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Routledge Companion to Comics

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However we define comics, it is safe to claim that in general they consist of two main components: images and language. With some exceptions, the vast majority of comics include linguistic elements: speech balloons, thought balloons, narrative boxes, sound effects, and ambient language (language used in the background, as on store fronts, t-shirts, restaurant menus, and the like). Comics scholarship examines the language used in comics to say something about narrative, character development, even the nature of comics themselves. And while fitful linguistic analysis of comics began in the early 20th century, only recently has the academic discipline of linguistics been brought to bear on comics studies, resulting in a rapidly growing expanse of research. This essay will discuss the concept of “language of comics,” explore several approaches to language and linguistics, and then attempt to address linguistic scholarship as it intersects with the study of comics.