Cities in the Graphic Novel

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As I get more and more into Graphic Novels, it seems there is a great opportunity to read them from an urban cultural studies perspective. For example, I have been working with a colleague on an Argentine graphic novel called the Ethernaut (here’s a full page Eternauta FULL PAGE ej) where aliens invade the city of Buenos Aires–various landmarks in the center of the city are a prominent part of the war that ensues (our piece should be published soon in Revista Iberoamericana and references work by Fredric Jameson on science fiction as a ‘spatial genre’–see earlier post).

It seems the same topic of city representation might be relevant to discussion of the series by Jason Lutes (City of Stones, City of Smoke) that takes place in Berlin (also above in image gallery).

Looking forward to hearing if others are interested in graphic novels from an urban perspective…!

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Science Fiction and the City

Critic Fredric Jameson–perhaps more well-known for his book Postmodernism: Or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (and the essay that inspired the book) has also written on sf (Science Fiction), noting that it is a ‘spatial genre’:

“We thus need to explore the proposition that the distinctiveness of SF as a genre has less to do with time (history, past, future) than with space”.

—Fredric Jameson, “Science Fiction as a Spatial Genre,” 1987, 58

With implications for urban cultural studies, he also notes that:

Many SF cityscapes and utopias seem to me to participate in this curious paradox: that what signals the constructed, invented, artificial nature of SF as a genre—the palpable fact that an author has strained her or his invention to contrive some near or far culture’s city (and to make it somehow distinctive and different from those of rivals or predecessors)—that very lack of ontological density for the reader, that very artifice and unbelievability which are surely disastrous in the most realistic novels, is here an unexpected source of strength, feeding into the more traditional SF estrangement effects in a curiously formal, reflexive and overdetermined way. (54)

See also an online paper titled “Architectural Representations of the City in Science Fiction Cinema” and the blog Science Fiction & the City (from which the above image is taken).