Playing with Formats

Two new articles by Dona Pursall and Eva Van de Wiele have been published in the special issue “Jeux de Formats” of the online journal Interfaces:

Domesticating and Glocalising the Dreamy: McCay’s Little Nemo and Its Sequels in Early Italian Corriere dei Piccoli (1909-1914)

The editors of Corriere dei Piccoli (CdP), an Italian comics magazine for children launched in December 1908, followed the New York Herald’s every step. In envisioning the creation of a children’s supplement, Italy’s biggest newspaper understood the enthralment and economic potential of the Sunday pages and introduced its Italian readers to various American serial figures. One of those recurring characters, Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, was the most heavily reformatted on CdP’s centre pages in 1913. The drastic flattening of McCay’s vertical appeal to a double page put the graphic designer to the limits of his possibilities. This domestication of the American format is a consequence of the pedagogical ideas and moralistic intentions behind the bourgeois magazine, and Italian style and reading preferences related to readership. Still, Little Nemo inspired the autochthonous authors to create their own versions of McCay’s serial narrative. I uncover the actualizations of the serial figure by three Italian comic artists, unveiling the many moralistic and propagandistic incarnations of Little Nemo. Although heavily reformatted, Little Nemo’s legacy in CdP went further than any other Sunday page.

“Tin-Can Tommy The Clockwork Boy”: A case study in incompleteness for humorous effect in British children’s comics of the 1930s

This article explores the format and construct of longer humorous comics strips through the close analysis of “Tin-Can Tommy The Clockwork Boy” from D C Thomson’s The Beano Comic, a publication aimed at children and launched in 1938. This study of one specific strip argues that the use a seriality somewhere between open-ended and discontinuous, continual fluctuations between flat and round characterisation and a style wavering between completeness and expressivity constructs an aesthetic of incompleteness which is essentiel in the creation of humour. Following investigation of the ways in which this particular format constructs funniness as a process of continual negotiation, specifically through the use of exaggeration, asymmetry, dissatisfaction and imbalance, the article concludes that a quality of unfinished-ness is integral to the relationship these comics create with their readers, and therefore fundamental to laughter.