Abstract/Nonrepresentational Comics

It is difficult to define abstract comics as many of them are non-representational. In Tim Gaze’s article, “A Quick Introduction to Abstract Comics” rather than trying to define abstract comics, he lists a few of the ways a comic can be abstract. Irregular frames, no frames, no definable panels, altering the use of speech and thought bubbles. The symbols used in an abstract comic can be either representational or nonrepresentational. For example, in Robert Crumb’s “Abstract Expressionist Ultra Super Modernistic Comics” he uses identifiable images, but places them in a nonrepresentational context.zap-1-002

His frames are irregular, and it is difficult to tell what order we are meant to view the frames in, or if there is any specific order at all. He uses representational images, like eyeballs, hands, and lightning bolts, but places them in abstract settings. In the top right panel, he uses one of the techniques identified by Gaze. Crumb has changed the use of the speech bubble. Now it is acting more as a frame within a frame rather than a representation of someone talking. As far as the reader can tell, there is no main plot to follow, although it does look like there is some continuity between the panels across the bottom of the page. There are many interpretations for this comic- the symbols used can have any number of meanings depending on the reader. Though this comic appears to be drawn as satire of the abstract/modern arts, it uses the techniques of abstract comics well.

Other abstract comics use fewer representational images. The only story that can exist is the one shown through the shapes on the page.abstractcomics

In this comic, it is not only impossible to tell if there is a story we are meant to follow, but it is difficult to tell what we are looking at. Is the shape of the blue mass changing, or are we zooming in on one part of it from panel to panel? This comic does use traditional panels. We are able to guess the order they go in for the most part, but we haven’t been given enough to work with to come to any conclusion. Non Representational pieces can be viewed as having endless interpretations or only one interpretation. If we base our interpretation solely on what is in each panel, all we know is that there is some blue stuff and it is existing.