Saturday, March 16, 2013

Summary of Priego's Article

Priego’s article focuses on the changing nature of comics in the digital age, defining what “comics” is and is not at a time when the form is in some ways evolving (are graphic novels comics? how do digital technologies change the nature of comics and the production processes involved in creating them?). Much of the article is explanatory, laying out some of these debates and the (nascent) interdisciplinary scholarship that has developed around the topic. If there is a thesis that runs through the text it is Priego’s point that scholars must be aware “of the relationship between process and product” or the ways that “methods of production and types of publication” can affect the final product and its historical development—as well as the ways in which we study these concepts.

Priego’s other point concerns technological determinism and the non-linear manner in which technology evolves and shapes the media landscape. Furthermore, Priego contends that his scholarship on the topic of comics, is subject to an inherent historical bias in that it “seeks to provide insights into the nature of comics based on the previous history of comics and comics scholarship.” I wish Priego had provided a few more concrete examples of what he means here, but if I understand his point properly, it is that the study of print media tends to be concerned primarily with those features associated with print form and the digital form in contrast to it, rather than approaching new forms in an unbiased manner.

It’s a helpful insight that extends more broadly beyond the discussion of comics themselves. In particular, Priego’s article resonates with respect to our conversation this week about the fate of for-profit newspapers, many of which have created online analogues of their products that differ in only minor ways from the printed versions. A few papers, the NYT, the WSJ, and others are only beginning to approach the new medium with fresh eyes, exploiting in a fuller manner some of the other storytelling features (video, interactivity) allowed by the web. In addition to all of the economic burdens explored by some of the other authors this week, newspaper publishers also suffer from some of the same historical biases Priego identifies with respect to scholarship on comics.

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