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Blog: Fruit Pies And Milkduds

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I don't know if I've ever mentioned it, but I'm currently doing a PhD about Doctor Doom as an early transmedia character - if that doesn't sound familiar let me know and I will happily explain AT EXTREME LENGTH.

Part of the process of doing a PhD is that you're meant to try and do some publications, but an issue I have discovered with this is that it can take AGES. There is, for instance, a chapter in a book what I got signed up to do nearly three years ago, "finished" two years ago, and last heard anything about six months, but this is apparently "Normal For Academia".

Happily, another thing what I wrote has had a MUCH easier transition from getting accepted to getting published, and it came out this very week. It's an article called "How do readers understand character identities when they appear in both the text and paratext of a comic?" that forms part of a roundtable discussion for Reading Comics At The Threshold. "Peritexts" is basically the stuff inside a comic that isn't the story itself, like adverts, editorial pages and letter columns, so my article is looking at what happens when a character appears in the main story AND in an advert.

When you have a situation like this in a TV show it's peasy - we know that the characters are all played by actors who can play more than one part, so we don't assume that the advert is part of the story - but in comics there ARE no actors, it's just the character. In the examples I look at we see Captain America apparently breaking off from a mission with SHIELD to solve crime using fruit pies, and Doctor Doom pausing a battle to the death with Mr Fantastic to implore readers to enter a competition for a sweets company. Clearly we're not supposed to think that it's all one story, but readers are expected just to KNOW this, and not think it's the same character... while also accepting that in a way it IS.

It's one of those things that crop up a LOT in comics, where we just accept certain things about them because we're used to them - stuff like the way a single panel shows a single snapshot of time (except when it doesn't) during which characters are also able to have lengthy conversations while apparently standing still. For my article tried to use Transmedia Terminology to work out what was going on and, to my surprise, it seems to make sense. This is very much thanks to Osvaldo Oyola, the editor, who took me through SEVERAL different versions and offered huge heaps of advice. It was a DELIGHTFUL process which even allowed me to keep a few GAGS in!

Meanwhile, for those who are NOT fans of my delvings into baddy-based PHILOSOPHY, gird your ROCK loins for next week, when there will be ROCK OUTPUTS AHOY!

posted 25/9/2020 by MJ Hibbett

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