Breaking Walls But Not Necessarily Conventions

While there are many known genres to comics (particularly science fiction and crime comics), there is one genre that is considered to be particularly “rare” in the realm of comics: the metacomic. The metacomic is essentially a comic within a comic where the characters break the fourth wall. However, upon learning what classifies a metacomic, I would argue that it isn’t exactly all that “rare” – in fact, George Herriman the author of Krazy Kat used this primarily during the strips run from 1913-1944. Many comic strips would follow this “rare” form of delivering a punch line (Calvin and Hobbes, The Peanuts, and even Watchmen) ultimately making the genre more common than rare. While this genre shouldn’t be considered rare, I do believe that it revamped the delivery of punchlines, and revolutionized comic strips.

There are multiple signifiers for a comic to be classified as a “metacomic”, for instance, the author may draw themselves into the comic strip or the characters may reference the fact that they are inside of a comic.

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The character physically moving himself to the next panel over breaks the fourth wall and gives the indication that the character is aware of being in a comic – in fact, without the character breaking that fourth wall, there would be no punchline present in the comic at all.

Often, when I read these as a child I thought the idea that drawn characters were aware they were trapped within the confines of drawn lines made the comic that much more humorous. As another blogger, Sebastian Snider, pointed out – this form of “meta humor” isn’t as revolutionary or rare as its definition claims (link below). However, it does give provide a new form of humor that combines both text and image.

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Links:

http://graphicnovel.umwblogs.org/2015/09/11/the-treachery-of-images-in-krazy-kat/

 

 

 

 

  2 comments for “Breaking Walls But Not Necessarily Conventions

  1. holyguava
    September 20, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    I’m surprised you didn’t talk about Deadpool. So the difference between the fourth wall break in comics different then fourth wall breaking in animation or video games? Is playing with the boxes the only extent of it? Have their been comics that really focus on only being a meta comic or does this type of humor break the status quo of the in comic universe?

  2. October 12, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    So if this definition of “metacomics” is wrong, where did it come from? Whose definition is it?

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