7 Jan 2016

Groensteen (1.7) The System of Comics, ‘The Functions of the Frame'


by Corry Shores

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[The following is summary. My own comments are in brackets. Boldface is mine.]



Summary of
Thierry Groensteen
The System of Comics

Chapter 1:
The Spatio-Topical System

The Functions of the Frame


Brief summary:
The frame in comics performs six important functions: 1) closure, 2) separation, 3) rhythm, 4) structure, 5) expression, and 6) readerliness. These functions affect both the visual contents of and the reader’s experience of the panels. Authors also may use these functions uniquely in accordance with their own stylistic choices.




Groensteen thinks that there are six important functions of the comics frame: 1) the function of closure, 2) the separative function, 3) the rhythmic function, 4) the structural function, 5) the expressive function, and 6) the readerly function. These functions influence both the reader’s experience of the comic book and as well the actual visual contents of the panels. These functions also provide different avenues for the author to create their comic book under their own unique stylistic preferences. [I will quote this paragraph in case I paraphrased inaccurately:]

There are six important functions of the frame, which I call the function of closure, the separative function, the rhythmic function, the structural function, the expressive function, and the readerly function. All of these functions exert their effects on the contents of the panel (a voluntarily general expression, by which I mean the totality of the figurative elements within the frame) and, especially, on the perceptive and cognitive processes of the reader. Most of the functions also open up a range of formal possibilities, allowing the frame to fully participate in the specific rhetoric of each author.





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.

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