Johannes C. P. Schmid, Frames and Framing in Documentary Comics (Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Comics and Graphic Novels: 2021)

About the scholar

Dr. Johannes Schmid is a postdoctoral researcher at Europa-Universität Flensburg, Germany, and associate editor at American Studies: A Quarterly, the official journal of the German Society for American Studies (GAAS). His other recent publications include Shooting Pictures, Drawing Blood: The Photographic Image in the Graphic War Memoir (2016). 

About the book

Dr. Schmid’s new book considers documentary comics in relationship to framing, that is both the strategic use of communication to encourage a particular interpretation of a scenario; secondly, the process of structuring a representation (or portions thereof) by situating it within certain boundaries, in the case of comics, a panel or a page, for example. Dr. Schmid combines theories of framing analysis and cognitive narratology with comics studies, focusing on the medium’s visual frames and engaging in a broader discussion about facts and journalism in the current age of fake news and post-truth politics. 

Frames and Framing in Documentary Comics approaches the topic through three categories: material framing (which focuses on elements like paratext), visual framing (the physical panels and narrative framing of the visual plane), and narrative framing of storytelling, narrative structures, and the position of the author. He finishes by tackling some tricky issues about digital media, and the intersection between journalistic practices and documentary comics.  

This book argues that “the exact relationship between the various framings that inform the reading process eludes exact classification. Various cognitive frames, on a spectrum from generic to specific, inform the interpretation of every single moment in the story.” (38)  “Journalistic framing essentially categorizes reported events already in the way they are transmitted, comics with its rigid visual frames, frustrates the desire to clearly categorize as a documentary form, serving as an important reminder that medial simplification does not equal historical simplicity.” (282)