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Multimodal Communication

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Multimodal Thought Presentation in Chris Ware’s Building Stories

Massimiliano Morini
Published Online: 2015-05-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2015-0002


In their combination of visual and linguistic resources, comic books are perfectly suited, as objects of study, for the relatively novel inter-discipline of multimodal stylistics. Many graphic novels, in particular, have reached such a level of stylistic sophistication that it is only through a multimodal analysis of their techniques that their authors’ aims can be fully appreciated. The author of this article looks at the various techniques through which thought is bodied forth in Chris Ware’s experimental “comic box”, Building Stories (2012). Far from merely importing into comic art the techniques normally employed in non-graphic fiction, Ware combines drawings and the written word in ever-creative ways, often privileging the visual over the linguistic medium. A character’s thought, or feeling, can be presented by means of a thought bubble – but also, in a much more immediate manner, by the arrangement of images in the panel or on the page. At the end of the article, a taxonomy of multimodal techniques for thought presentation is briefly sketched.

Keywords: comics; multimodality; stylistics; Chris Ware; Building Stories


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About the article

Massimiliano Morini

Massimiliano Morini is Associate Professor of English Linguistics and Translation at the University of Urbino. His research interests include pragmatic stylistics (Jane Austen’s Narrative Techniques, Ashgate 2009) and the theory, practice and history of translation (Tudor Translation in Theory and Practice, Ashgate 2006; The Pragmatic Translator, Bloomsbury 2013). He has recently explored the relatively novel field of multimodal stylistics (Towards a musical stylistics: Movement in Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”, Language and Literature 22:4, 2013). As a professional translator, he has worked on literary fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama.

Published Online: 2015-05-27

Published in Print: 2015-06-01

Citation Information: Multimodal Communication, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 31–41, ISSN (Online) 2230-6587, ISSN (Print) 2230-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mc-2015-0002.

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