From comics to biology diagrams: structure and inference in visual narratives of transformation

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3 Citations (Scopus)


It has been proposed that comics are a particular form of a fundamental human ability to produce visual narratives – a visual language. The expres- sion of this visual language has received little attention outside comics. To address this matter, this work compares comics and scientific diagrams, focusing on representations of morphological transformation. Cohn’s Visual Narrative Grammar model, the role of dynamic knowledge structures and semiotics are considered in this analysis. A comic book and a diagram are investigated. Both reveal two kinds of transformation narratives: those that are depicted in the image sequence, and those that are inferred. In con- trast to depicted narratives, inferred narratives do not depend on a narra- tive structure. Instead, they require context-specific instructions to organize subjects into narratives. Additionally, simultaneous events in visual narra- tives are proposed to generate concurrent narrative structures within a single image sequence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-108
Number of pages24
JournalVisual Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • comics
  • diagrams
  • narrative inference
  • narrative structure
  • scientific communication
  • visual language


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