Disfigural Dynamisms of the Pictographic Theater: Towards a Deleuzian Phenomenology of the Embodied Comics Experience

Creative Commons License

Shores C. M.

Hacettepe Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi Dergisi, vol.39, no.2, pp.406-420, 2022 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)


Vivian Sobchack’s Merleau-Pontian phenomenology of embodied film experience is applicable, with certain modifications, to the embodied comics experience, especially when considering her analyses of Gestalt closure, bodily affectivity, and synaesthesia. We adopt these concepts yet with a different aim, namely, to account for shocking, disorienting, and decompositional embodied comics experiences of dramatically deformed bodies. For this task, we employ Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of shocking sensations and their role in promoting the “body without organs.” While it can be depicted in comics, like it is in Francis Bacon’s paintings, the visual experience of such a figure may also communicate these disordering forces to the viewing reader’s body as well, thereby shockingly disrupting their own inner workings. We test the potential applicability of these Deleuzian concepts by examining deformational bodies in Peter Bagge, Mary Fleener, and Craig Thompson, which will demonstrate the potential aptness of a Deleuze-inspired analysis of physiological shocks in the comics experience.