Sartre, 'Sartre' and the biographical bande dessinée

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Biographical comics, graphic novels and bande dessinée (BD) are often seen as ‘stepping stones’ or points of entry into a subject, particularly those of literary or philosophical figures. This article seeks to demonstrate the ways in which this might be disproven by considering the verbo-visual works alongside the theories of their subjects, thus highlighting the former’s role as both independent of, and an extra layer upon, the latter. Building on a study of recent trends in comics and Comics Studies, specifically upon the work of Maaheen Ahmed in the idea of openness in comics, and taking into account classical explorations of comics theory (Groensteen 1987), this article will outline the relationship between Existentialism and comics through the biographical BD, specifically Sartrian theory and Mathilde Ramadier and Anaïs Depommier’s 2015 Sartre. Through its close analysis of verbo-visual relations and issues of representation the article will assess the possibility of using Sartre’s philosophy in conjunction with Sartre to assert the relevance of the medium of the (biographical) BD. Beyond this, I will use the example of Sartre and Sartre to posit that the creation of philosophical and literary biographical BDs can be used to inject philosophy into the medium itself, thus contributing to the notion of a ‘theory of comics’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-126
Number of pages20
JournalStudies in Comics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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  • philosophy
  • comics theory
  • Biography
  • bande dessinée
  • Sartre
  • Mathilde Ramadier
  • Anaïs Depommier


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