Subjective time in David B.'s graphic memoir Epilepticpurchase PDF
Authors: Elisabeth El Refaie
The article uses David B's graphic memoir Epileptic as a way of identifying the semiotic resources that are available to comics artists in order to convey their subjective experiences of temporality. Epileptic describes the increasingly desperate, and ultimately futile, attempts by the autobiographical narrator's parents to find a cure for his elder brother's illness. The whole family is caught up in a recurring cycle of hope and despair, and time becomes frustratingly circular, trapping the family members and isolating them both from each other and from the outside world. Drawing on Hatfield's (2005) notion of comics as the art of tensions, I argue that the medium is well suited to the task of conveying subjective time, since many of its formal features follow patterns that reflect the way memory itself works. Examples include the way in which comics panels are separated by gaps, and the fact that in this medium meanings emerge not only through the syntagmatic logic of the sequence, but also through associative links across a page or even a whole work. Most importantly, comics reflect the intimate links between our experience of time and of space. The size, shape and layout of panels can, for instance, strongly influence our perception of the flow of time.