Culture, theory, and graphic fiction
This chapter is divided into two main sections, the first of which offers a review of the literature within comics scholarship. Within this review key issues are discussed and their relationship to the dissertation. The review is followed by an introduction to dissertation, its structure and the overall goal ofthe project. A brief discussion ofthe nature and origin of combining words and pictures acts as a segue into the major concerns of comics scholarship.
Early Australian pictographs, Mayan paintings, Egyptian hieroglyphics, Japanese scrolls, and other combinations of pictures and words have embellished human communication and story telling long before the printing press. With the advent of the printing press, combining words and pictures (e.g., illustrated books and political cartoons) continued this tradition. Some comics scholars (e.g., Scott McCloud and James Steranko) recognize these pre-printing press examples as a type of proto-comics. Sol Davidson includes Upper Paleolithic art parietal (Davidson 2-9) and Lancelot Hogben traces an equally early origin for comics and visual communication (Hogben). These assertions appear to stretch the definition ofthe medium and look more like an attempt at giving comics an ancient and reputable past as opposed to providing a true understanding of the medium and its beginnings, a point echoed by Wolfgang Fuchs Fuchs 8). David Kunzle's histories offer a more serious and inteUigent approach. His examples and analysis of early types of "comics" begin with 15th Century broadsheets (Kunzle, History ofthe Comic Strip 12,16), and Roger Sabin also traces the earUest history of comics to the broadsheets Sabin, Adult 11).