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The System of Comics

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  58 ratings  ·  11 reviews
This edition of Thierry Groensteen's "The System of Comics" makes available in English a groundbreaking work on comics by one of the medium's foremost scholars. In this book, originally published in France in 1999, Groensteen explains clearly the subtle, complex workings of the medium and its unique way of combining visual, verbal, spatial, and chronological expressions. T ...more
Published January 19th 2007 by University Press of Mississippi (first published 1999)
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Derek Royal
A meticulously laid out, and well thought out, study that brings much to comics studies. Groensteen has established a standard for the study of visual narrative, and one that is invaluable. For English readers, though, there may be the problem of reference. The vast majority of the comics that Groensteen cites are Franco-Belgian - which makes sense - and with whom (I would guess) most English-speaking readers are unfamiliar. Herge is probably the most recognizable artist that Groensteen cites, b ...more
Tim Jones
This is about as good and concrete of a theory of how comics works as you're going to get, however, in the grand French theoretical tradition, it also coins about 8 new words per page and seems insistent on being difficult.
I don't necessarily feel the need to weigh in on theories of comics - what they are, how they work - but it's still something I think about, especially when I'm teaching. Good food for thought in this book, even if it's not for the casual comics reader or maker. I liked this line quite a bit:
"Comics has the unique capacity to be able to illustrate with the same force of conviction the 'real,' the imagined, the thought, and the felt - and in the transition from one panel to the next it can glide
Good if you're a theorist or academic, but is otherwise pretty difficult to understand. The practicality of the book, at least for me, was minimal. I was looking to use it in a essay, but would struggle with it for hours on end and only extract a little information. What I would have liked is a reference manual on how to de-construct a comic book; what to look for. In short, this books actually makes me not want to read comic books, as it sort of takes the "fun" out of it.

Would not recommend it.
The French take their comics (Bande dessinée) very seriously and this study, by one of the most prolific scholars on the subject, lays the foundation for a semiotic analysis of comics. Among the contributions of this book are the postulates that the basic interpretive unit of comics is the frame (not the line or the word) and that the medium is characterized, not by a blend of text and image, but by a struggle between figuration and narrativity.
David Press
Finally a book applying semiotics to comics and I'm really glad I read it.
Karna Mustaqim
Buku teori komik dari pendekatan semiologis. Sepertinya kita akan segera mendisiplinkan komik sbg ilmu tersendiri, tentu saja bukan setahun dua ini, mungkin setidaknya dalam 5-10 tahun mendatang studi komik akan mendapatkan kajian yang sangat menantang. =)
A little dense with the grammar but once you read through it the text is very rewarding to understanding why comics are a diverse medium that deserve the respect from the art and literary communities.
This is a super fascinating book if you're interested in exploring comics on a deeper level. The intro was a little dense, and hard to read, but I enjoyed the rest of it.
Interesting things to say, used it for my thesis. Sometimes, a little aloof / difficult to read, as with most works of criticism.
Jul 27, 2011 Mary added it
Read intro and some sections from the middle; good but theoretically dense!
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