Social movement comic strips as citizen’s journalism, humour and cultural record

Chapman, Jane (2015) Social movement comic strips as citizen’s journalism, humour and cultural record. In: World War 1: Media, Entertainments & Popular Culture, 2-3 July 2015, University of Chester, UK.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Paper)
Item Status:Live Archive


This paper is taken from the findings of the AHRC collaborative research grant ‘Comics and the World Wars - a Cultural Record’ (2011-15). Having recuperated and researched some 1500 contemporary unknown or neglected strips, published by a broad array of organisations trans-nationally, a range of different techniques emerge. This includes humour that acts as a record of social movements and soldiers’ collective thinking, as expressed in their own newspapers through multi panel cartoons. These can be said to represent an early form of citizen’s journalism, simultaneously offering the researcher a barometer for contemporary popular thinking through the way that they:
- use humour as a coping mechanism, and a way to criticise authority.
- promote certain forms of behaviour and discouraged others.
- demonstrate a deliberately inclusive educational strategy for reading wartime content.
Previously neglected as a record of satirical social observation, soldiers’ humour expressed both morale-boosting and stoicism whilst also voicing concerns about daily life in cartoon form. These included complaints and feelings about officers, medical services, discomforts, food and drink, leave, military routines, and their expectations versus emerging reality. Soldiers at the various fronts tended to elevate anti-heroism in their illustrative narratives, but can it be argued that what these omit is as significant as what they mention? The comics strip/book contribution to cultural record is at its strongest with unspoken violence that reveals ‘mentalité’, and although this aspect reflects the needs of varying social organisations, e.g. boosting of morale, the comics form communicates the inadequacies of any representational strategy. Meaning is formed by the reader. This enables comics to use iconic, as opposed to representational depictions and yet still strongly relate to reality.

Keywords:Social movements, comics, First World War, Violence, representational, mentalite, humour, comic strips, Newspapers, Cultural record, citizens journalism
Subjects:L Social studies > L252 War & Peace studies
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V145 Modern History 1900-1919
L Social studies > L213 Socialism
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V260 Australasian History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V230 American History
P Mass Communications and Documentation > P590 Journalism not elsewhere classified
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V231 Canadian History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V210 British History
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (Journalism)
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ID Code:19421
Deposited On:30 Oct 2015 11:54

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