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Dr. phil. in art. Jakob Kibala

Knowledge and Deduction. Readings of pictorial and textual references in superhero comics

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Michael Diers, Prof. Matt Mullican
Thesis defence on April 18th, 2017

In superhero comics, individual events connect to »shared universes«, in which the stories of all published comic books are supposed to have taken place. Since the protagonists of the individual books populate the same fictional world, they are able to interact with one another. These interactions constitute a fictional history, to which comic producers refer time and again to further interconnect the stories, thus building decades long intertextual arcs. To fully understand the characters' fictional biographies, readers must have specific competences of remembering fictional history. This has to include means of remembering unknown things, as no individual reader could keep in mind the 70+ years long publication history of superhero comics. Through close readings of Alan Moore & Kevin O'Neill's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Grant Morrison et al.'s Batman R.I.P., my dissertation will examine intertextual strategies in Anglo-American comics.

Artistic work on the material dispositions of knowledge in comics accompanies the dissertation.