Title page for ETD etd-04262012-131111

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Thigpen, Ni Tyjah
Author's Email Address nnthigpen@live.com
URN etd-04262012-131111
Title Decoding Comics: Essential Elements for Transcription
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Linguistics (Interdepartmental Program)
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Brody, Mary Committee Chair
Hegarty, Michael Committee Member
Wories, Tracy Committee Member
  • comics transcription
  • decoding comics
  • transcribing comic art
Date of Defense 2012-03-30
Availability unrestricted
Comics (plural in form but used with a singular verb as defined by Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art, HarperPerennial) provides a fresh perspective on the interaction of culture and language and spans from simple one-frame comics to graphic novels. Speech in comics is fully interpretable only in relation to the other elements; therefore a transcription system that includes them all is necessary. I have developed a unique transcription method which incorporates all the salient aspects of comic art revealing the linguistic codes embedded within. I show that transcription techniques, while primarily focused on speech, can also be applied to other forms of communication. Gestures and their corresponding ingesticulary acts are communicative and therefore crucial to our understanding of language and culture interaction within comic art.

Charles Schultzís Peanuts is a relatively simple form of comics which makes it easier to focus on the linguistic information within the comic strip. Establishing the communicative information necessary to decode this relatively stripped-down comic strip will provide the framework necessary for all other forms of comics. In order to transcribe any form of comic art, one must include six keys elements: 1) the Prose, 2) the Gesture, 3) the Ingesticulary Act, 4) the Action, 5) the Perspective, 6) and the Environment. The interaction of these six elements creates the scaffold which supports the communicative mechanisms used in comic arts. My work yields a new understanding of the importance of language and culture interaction expanding the definition of communication to include written and visual elements of comics. Using my innovative transcription technique allows for further systematic decoding of linguistic elements within all kinds of comics and visual art.

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