Inventing Comics

SKU: 978-1-60235-869-0

A New Translation of Rodolphe Töpffer's Reflections on Graphic Storytelling, Media Rhetorics, and Aesthetic Practice

Rodolphe Töpffer
Edited, Translated, and Introduced by Sergio C. Figueiredo

Visual Rhetoric
Series Editor, Marguerite Helmers

Information and Pricing
978-1-60235-869-0 (paperback, $30); 978-1-60235-870-6 (hardcover, $60); 978-1-60235-871-3 (PDF on CD, $20) © 2017 by Parlor Press. 212 pages with 77 illustrations, notes, and bibliography. In English and French.

Add to Cart and choose format below.

Bookstores: Order by fax, mail, or phone. See our "Sales and Ordering Page" for details.


In recent years, graphic novels have gained a renewed interest from a host of scholars in a diverse range of fields, including rhetoric and writing, media studies, literary studies, visual communication, graphic arts, and art history. While many of these studies reference Rodolphe Töpffer as the inventor (or, "father") of the genre, his scholarly work addressing the theoretical foundation and significance of graphic novels has remained unavailable to English-speaking audiences. Inventing Comics fills this gap by presenting a translation of two essays by Töpffer that place the invention of graphic novels at the intersection of rhetoric, philosophy, aesthetics, and civic life.

In his role as a professor of rhetoric and belle-lettres at the Academy of Geneva, Töpffer not only wrote popular fiction (graphic novels, novels, plays) but also a host of scholarly works addressing the relationship between aesthetics and poetics. Pulling from Töpffer's scholarly corpus, Figueiredo argues that Töpffer's invention of graphic novels was the manifestation of a much broader media theory, one that engaged with the social, cultural, political, and technological shifts accompanying the Industrial Revolution in the early- and mid-nineteenth century. While Figueiredo's primary focus is to situate Töpffer in the histories of rhetoric, media studies, and the emergence of what Gregory L. Ulmer has called the apparatus of electracy, these essays also resonate with affect theory, apparatus theory, art history, graphic novels, literary studies, philosophy, sensory studies, and writing studies.

About the Editor and Translator

Sergio C. Figueiredo is Assistant Professor of Media and Rhetoric in the Department of English at Kennesaw State University. He received his PhD in Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design from Clemson University, and his MA in English from Marshall University. His research focuses on the intersections of rhetorical theory, media studies, and electracy. His work has appeared in Textshop Experiments, ImageTexT: Interdisciplinary Comics Studies, Journal of Visual Literacy, and In Media Res: A Media Commons Project. He serves as a Fellow with the Global Art and Ideas Nexus, contributing to the organization's e-Magazine, Esthesis, and special programs, including the Critical Conversations series.


Translator's Introduction: "Rudolphe Töpffer, Media Rhetorics, and Electracy"
Part 1: Essai de Physiognomonie
Introduction to "Essai de Physiognomonie"
"Essai de Physiognomonie"
Chapter 1: Advantages Specific to Graphic Literature
Chapter 2: Similarities and Differences with Parody
Chapter 3: How Graphic Literature Can Independently Cultivate an Advanced Culture in the Arts. Advantages of the Autographic Method
Chapter 4: Advantages and Properties of Line Art
Chapter 5: Of a Method that Demands a Basic Understanding of Physiognomy, Apart from the Study of Drawing
Chapter 6: Similarities, and Where this Method Leads
Chapter 7: Differences Regarding the Principles and Results Between Phrenology and Physiognomy
Chapter 8: Two Orders of Expressive Design in the Human Head: Permanent and Non-Permanent
Chapter 9: On Combining Expressive Signs
Chapter 10: On Permanent Expressive Signs
Chapter 11: On Non-Permanent Expressive Signs
Chapter 12: On Conforming Physiognomic Signs, and Conclusion
Part 2: "Essai d'Autographie"
"Essai d'Autographie"
Part 3: "Of a Genevan Painter"
Introduction to "Of a Genevan Painter"
"Of a Genevan Painter"
Works Cited

Choose Format and Buy Securely from Parlor Press

Price: $30.00