Self-Image and World-View in Comics: Visual Life Narratives by Cecilia Torudd, Ulf Lundkvist, Gunna Grähs and Joakim Pirinen
This thesis researches the ways that comics artists represent themselves in their work and use their own personal life experience to create visual life narratives. The main purpose is to investigate concepts of both self-image and world-view in comics by Cecilia Torudd, Ulf Lundkvist, Gunna Grähs and Joakim Pirinen, in order to achieve a more nuanced understanding of life narratives in a broader sense. The study also aims at giving an account of the development of alternative comics in Sweden during the period 1965-2015, including the rise of the autobiographical comics genre at the turn of the millennium. In individual case studies, I present the life and work of these four Swedish artists, who all emerged in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at a time when so-called adult comics (vuxenserier) became promi- nent in Sweden. I analyse and interpret a number of life narratives by their hand, applying theories on art and visual communication, comics and life narratives. These analyses reveal common and individual themes as well as visual and narrative strategies. Particular attention is paid to the contribution of the image in the creation of story worlds where personal style and the skill of drawing are highlighted as means to create a sense of credibility. By putting their work in a historical, cultural and social context, and through an interdisciplinary approach, the study results in a deeper knowledge of these comics as a medium for self-ex- pression. The study shows that life narratives are indeed already prominent in the Swedish comics of the 1980s. By seeing self-image as a concept of oneself in interaction with others, and world-view as a subjective perception of the outside world that is conveyed through the comics medium, this thesis gives a broader perspective on the ways that the self and the world take shape in the comics medium. Cartoonists who portray themselves and use their own experiences to tell stories convey new world-views through their visual life narratives.