Comics appeared officially in the United States in the second half of the 19th century – not by chance in the age of onset and strong affirmation of the mass media: photography and film. The comics are an important cultural phenomenon and that was explained to us in the 1970s thanks to several theorists of visual communication. Special thanks goes to the very respected Dr Vera Horvat- Pintaric, as she made of it an object of wider interest, singled it out of “despised consumer goods” and introduced it to the Faculty as a subject of study (with posters, photography, film, television, commercials, video, thus normally “academic” science was not dealt with) .
( Part of the introduction of the exhibition about Comics created by the Croatian internationally famous artist/illustrator Bruno Budrovic and Josip Majic in the Miroslav Kraljevic Gallery, Zagreb, 1995.)
(Bruno Budrovic, Illustration, courtesy of the artist)
The Italian theorist Umberto Eco, one of the renowned scholars of mass media, including comics, analyses the complexities of the mediain in his book “The Interpretation of Steve Canyon”, which can be recognized on the semantic (symbolic), ideological and anthropological level.
The basic element of semantics of the comics is a conventional sign of “the bubble” that accompanies the standardization of a mood: if it ends with the sharp edge, leading to the person who talks, “the bubble” means “direct talk”, then if it ends in a series of bubbles, it indicates “the reflective discourse”, and finally if the “bubble” has serrated edge then it indicates excitement, fear, etc.
A graphic sign is also an important element, especially used in the sonorous service as an onomatopoeic extension resource of a language (eg. “zip” of a bullet, “gulp” of an astonishment), but it is often taken from English and put into other languages, losing direct contact with the meaning (“smack” or blow of a fist ).
These semantic elements constitute a particular grammar of cadre, referring to the impact of the film, especially the form of montage. However, the comic has the original montage: not achieving a steady flow with fixed frames as a movie, but it is achieved through ideal continuity of breaking the continuum of basic elements that the reader in imagination connects and sees as a continuum. Such elliptical process, from the standpoint of communication means programmatic removal of redundancy, hence allowing a high information capacity.
PhD Vesna Srnic, “Comics”, 1995