Silent and semi-silent arguments in the graphic novel

Silvia Adler


This study focuses on the iconographic channel of the graphic novel as a particular occurrence of silence. In Comics, images provide not only the data required for the development of narration; they also render available the concrete circumstances of the enunciation and often orient the reader towards the identification of language in action, or towards the selection of a particular communicative intention, a process which coincides with Saville-Troike’s silences carrying illocutionary force and perlocutionary effect (1985), or with Kurzon’s silences – intentional signifiers alternating with an utterable signified. Through the analysis of concrete scenes taken from three graphic novels dealing with sociopolitical contexts of conflict – Satrapi’s Persepolis (2000), Folman and Polonsky’s Waltz with Bashir (2009) and Sacco’s Palestine (2007) – we identify two different sets of arguments: (1) semi-silent arguments resulting from the interplay between verbal and visual language & (2) silent arguments emerging within an entirely visual, extra-linguistic scene, where images alone regulate the quantity or the quality of information given at a certain point of narration with the aim of leading the addressee to a certain tacit conclusion.

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