Chris Ware and the construction of the rhizomatic space

  • Mario Tirino Università degli Studi di Salerno
  • Lorenzo Di Paola


Space and time in comics are inextricably linked (Kukkonen 2013). Since the beginning of this medium, cartoonist have filled the extent of the page with details and complex structures to capture, cage and represent the flow of time for narrative purposes (Barbieri 1991 e 2010, Frezza 1999). On the comic page composed by the author, we often walk through the stories moving forward linearly panel by panel until the conclusion.

The material support on which the story appears, far from being a neutral element, directs not only the relationship of the author with the semiotic space of the sequential narration (Noth 1990), but it also acts on the perceptive, affective and sensory relationship between device and readership.

Therefore, the extent of the page and material support offer to cartoonist freedom and restrictions, impose rules and conventions that may be adopted or broken, or shown and overcome (Lefèvre 2009).

At a time of powerful reconfiguration of comics arrangements, in direction of massive convergence of media, cultures and technologies (Jenkins 2007), we have many examples of works working on the spatial structures, in a physical and semiotic sense, of comics media.

Among these experimentations, we will be focusing on the case of Chris Ware, an authore capable of shaping rhizomatic temporal and narrative structures with a graphic style apparently simple and linear (on the rhizome concept we refer to Deleuze and Guattari 2003).

In this renovated mediascape, conquers new spaces also a metariflexive and philosohical type of comic able to rethink its own iconopoietic terms: the best example of this graphic form able to be configured as a real adventure for images in the territories of though, is the work of Chris Ware (Tinkler 2008, Ball, Kuhlman 2011, Bartual 2012).

In this essay we will analyze the graphic novel Building Stories (2012) (Dittmer 2014, Siirtola 2014, Morini 2015). We are going to try to understand the strategies with which the author uses the graphic novel as an instrument of thought to rethink the limits and boundaries of the page, setting himself outside the traditional sequential narrative logic in a multidimensional architecture direction. (Bredehoft 2006, Reid 2017).

We are gong to investigate the unusual construction of the narrative space that is not limited just to the single page of the classic graphic novel, radically renewing the forms (Baetens 2008), with extra-narrative artifices in a story with open architecture that can be followed in several direction and through the most varied supports and devices (Hadler e Irrgang 2014).

The construction of this atypical and non-hierarchical narrative space opens the door to a new idea of comics, capable of confronting - and benefitting from - with the hybrid, immersive, distributed and participated space of digital media and the Web.


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Author Biographies

Mario Tirino, Università degli Studi di Salerno

Mario Tirino is a Post-Doc Researcher at Department of Social, Political and Media Studies of University of Salerno. His main research topics concern sociology of digital cultures, media theory and media archaeology. He has published about fifty essays in collective volumes and on academic journals (among others "Comunicazioni Sociali", "Sociologia", "Sociologia della Comunicazione", "Mediascapes Journal", "Scienza e filosofia", "Metis", "Im@go"). He has edited  Ha curato i volumi "I riflessi di Black Mirror. Glossario su immaginari, culture e media della società digitale" (with Antonio Tramontana, 2018), "Romanzi e immaginari digitali. Saggio di mediologia della letteratura" (with Alfonso Amendola, 2017), "Saccheggiate il Louvre. William S. Burroughs tra eversione politica e insurrezione espressiva" (with Alfonso Amendola, 2016). He directs with Gino Frezza and Lorenzo Di Paola the academic series "L'Eternauta. Studies on comics and media".



Lorenzo Di Paola

Lorenzo Di Paola is a PhD Student at Department of Social, Political and Media Studies of University of Salerno. He is studying comics culture and media theory. He directs with Gino Frezza and Mario Tirino the academic series "L'Eternauta. Studies on comics and media".


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How to Cite
Tirino, M., & Di Paola, L. (2018). Chris Ware and the construction of the rhizomatic space. Between, 8(15).