The field of comics has undergone palpable shifts in print and digital publishing cultures, from newspaper strips and zines to hardbound graphic novels and works still emerging in the era of Web 2.0. Comics that leave behind the aesthetic trappings of print to embrace digital platforms and media are known variously as digital comics, download comics, hypercomics and webcomics. This paper adopts the term “webcomics” to denote a precise, hybrid medium combining the visual-verbal grammar of comics with the capacious potentials of digitality. Through the case study of These Memories Won’t Last, a webcomic by Australian artist and graphic designer Stuart Campbell (known by his pseudonym, Sutu), I aim to explore the ways Campbell engages sound, animation and other interactive elements alongside drawings that render the lived experiences of his grandfather, who suffers from late-stage dementia. This paper considers how webcomics might transform the stasis of word-and-image to explore and communicate subjects that sit on the outer edges of representation, such as memory, identity and trauma. It responds to a new generation of artists who harness digital technologies to expand and revise the comics form and considers the potential effects of this practice on creating, reading and interpretating life stories. Biographical note: Shannon Sandford is a casual academic in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Flinders University, South Australia. With research interests in graphic life narrative, new media, and visual cultures, her work explores the relationship between auto/biography and the increasingly mobile platforms, contexts and audiences of Web 2.0. She is currently investigating intersections between graphic representation and digital media through webcomics: an emerging and experimental medium that signals new contemporary practices of self-display. Her work is published in On_Culture, TEXT, Textual Practice and Journal of Australian Studies (forthcoming). She is affiliated with The Life Narrative Lab.
- life narrative
- Stuart Campbell