by Corry Shores
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The Spatio-Topical System
[On the Multiframe]
In this chapter, Groensteen will analyze the “spatio-topical” system of the visual presentation of comics. As such, his focus in this section lies mostly on the framed spaces, with less attention paid to their verbal and iconic contents.
Groensteen will present “a systematic description of the physical essence of comics” (24). He begins this project by appealing to Henri Van Lier's notion of the “multiframe” (24) [see Vanlier’s “La bande dessinée, une cosmogonie dure,” published online here.] The "term suggests [...] the reduction of images to their frame, either to their outline or, especially, to the feature that delimits it" (24). Yet we also must keep in mind that “a completed page never ceases to be a multiframe” (24). This concept of multiframe, then, “allows us to imagine a contentless comic, ‘cleansed’ of its iconic and verbal contents, and constructed as a finished series of supporting frames – in short, a comic provisionally reduced to its spatio-topical parameters” (24).
Thierry Groensteen. The System of Comics. Translated from French to English by Bart Beaty and Nick Nguyen. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2007. Originally published as Systém de la bande desinée. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1999.
Henri Van Lier. “La bande dessinée, une cosmogonie dure,”