17 Aug 2016

Groensteen (2.0) The System of Comics, ‘[chapter introductory material]’, summary


by Corry Shores


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[The following is summary. Boldface and bracketed commentary are my own. Proofreading is incomplete, so please excuse my distracting typos.]




Summary of


Thierry Groensteen


The System of Comics


Chapter 2:

Restrained Arthrology: The Sequence



[chapter introductory material]




Brief summary:

Groensteen will examine how narration operates in the comics system along with how dialogue generates meaning between panels. He will now in the next sections examine a “restrained arthrology,” which is “the linear semantic relations that govern the breakdown” (103).






Groensteen will follow a course analogous to the one Benoît Peeters followed. However, the theoretical presuppositions may not be exactly the same. Groensteen recaps what he accomplished in the first chapter: “We have looked at the functions of the frame and the parameters that define the panel in terms of form, then how the layout configures the spatio-topia in support of a narrative and artistic project” (103). Groensteen will now “analyze how the ‘narration’ moves through and contributes to the system,” and he will also discuss “how the dialogue produces meaning between panels.” [We mentioned the concept of arthrology in section 1.6. There I noted that (quoting my own comments) “I am not familiar with this term, but it seems generally to be the anatomical study of joints, and in the case of comics, it perhaps studies the ways that parts of a comics work interact, perhaps especially parts that are not simultaneously visible.” This was in response to Groensteen’s use of the term “general arthrology”. He now is using the term, “restrained arthrology,” which he notes is “the linear semantic relations that govern the breakdown” (103). Here is the full sentence:] “For the moment we will undertake an examination of restrained arthrology, that is to say, the linear semantic relations that govern the breakdown” (103). [Hatfield defines the breakdown as the disjointed series of comics panels that are crafted by means of selecting moments from a fuller, imagined narrative sequence. See section 3 of “The Art of Tensions”.]





Groensteen, Thierry. 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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