Book Cover

Between Pen and Pixel

Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future

Aaron Kashtan

6 x 9, 224 pp.
38 illustrations

Pub Date: April, 2018

Subjects: Comic Studies

Series: Studies in Comics and Cartoons

Order Hardcover $104.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-1364-3
Order Paperback $29.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5470-7
Order PDF ebook $29.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-7614-3

Nominated for a 2019 Eisner Award for best academic/Scholarly book.

“By linking a focus on materiality within texts to larger developments in the comics industry, Kashtan gives us a vivid portrait of a medium in transition. Between Pen and Pixel offers a powerful model for how methodologies focused on materiality might advance the field of comic studies.” —Henry Jenkins, author of Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide

“This book goes beyond just a survey of interesting experiments in comics materiality. It makes a bolder claim for the centrality of comics for book culture as a whole in the digital age.” —Greg Smith, author of What Media Classes Really Want to Discuss

In Between Pen and Pixel: Comics, Materiality, and the Book of the Future, Aaron Kashtan argues that paying attention to comics helps us understand the future of the book. Debates over the future of the book tend to focus on text-based literature, particularly fiction. However, because comics make the effects of materiality visible, they offer a clearer demonstration than prose fiction of how the rise of digital reading platforms transforms the reading experience. Comics help us see the effects of alterations in features such as publication design and typography, whereas in print literature, such transformations often go unnoticed.

With case studies of the work of Alison Bechdel, Matt Kindt, Lynda Barry, Carla Speed McNeil, Chris Ware, and Randall Munroe, Kashtan examines print comics that critique digital technology, comics that are remediated from print to digital and vice versa, and comics that combine print and digital functionality. Kashtan argues that comics are adapting to the rise of digital reading technologies more effectively than print literature has yet done. Therefore, looking at comics gives us a preview of what the future of the book looks like. Ultimately, Between Pen and Pixel argues that as print literature becomes more sensitive to issues of materiality and mediacy, print books will increasingly start to resemble to comic books

Aaron Kashtan is a Lecturer in the University Writing Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.


List of Illustrations

Introduction    Comics, Materiality, and the Future of the Book

Chapter 1        My Mother was a Typewriter: Fun Home and the Relevance of Materiality to Comics Studies

Chapter 2        Talismans: How Print Comics Have Responded to the Crisitunity of Digital Media

Chapter 3        Click and Drag: The Continuing Relevance of Print to Digital Comics

Chapter 4        Guided View: How Comics Move from Print to Digital and Back

Chapter 5        Between Panel and Screen: Comics That Are Print and Digital at Once

Conclusion       Applications for Studying and Teaching Comics

Works Cited