Kontturi, Katja: Ankkalinna – portti kahden maailman välillä. Don Rosan Disney-sarjakuvat postmodernina fantasiana. (Jyväskylä Studies in humanities, 239.) Jyväskylä: Jyväskylän Yliopisto, 2014. (298 S.)
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|Resource type: Book
ID no. (ISBN etc.): 978-951-39-5985-2
BibTeX citation key: Kontturi2014
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Keywords: City, Disney comics, Fantasy, Intertextuality, Memoria, Postmodernism, Rosa. Don, Space, USA
Publisher: Jyväskylän Yliopisto (Jyväskylä)
This dissertation deals with the Disney comics by Don Rosa and analyzes both their fantastic and postmodern features. Rosa combines different fantasy worlds with references to genuine history thus creating unique narratives. The aim of this thesis is to examine how comics as a form depict the elements of fantasy genre both visually and textually. The study notes how Rosa has altered the conventional Disney comics with his detailed style of drawing that is influenced by the underground comix movement. In addition, Rosa widens the form of Disney comics with different narrative choices. Transcending the frame borders and using intertextual references to different media are also essential for the research.
The research is based on literary theories of fantasy genre (Maria Nikolajeva) as well as theories postmodernism (Brian McHale and Linda Hutcheon). Furthermore, it applies the analytic tools of comics (Scott McCloud) and close reading in analyzing the form and contents of Rosa’s comics.
The primary corpus of the study is Don Rosa’s original comics published between the years 1987–2006 of which 48 relevant comics have been chosen based on their dealings with fantasy worlds, fantastic and historical events as well as postmodern features.
With the help of Maria Nikolajeva’s division of fantasy worlds and Sisko Ylimartimo’s views on the fantastic features of fine arts, this thesis analyzes the ways comics portray different fantasy worlds and depict the transition between the worlds. However, the concepts of fine arts cannot be applied directly in comics analysis because of the different narrative strategies comics use. This thesis provides numerous visual examples how Rosa creates a fantastic narrative in textual and visual level.
The aim of this dissertation is to create a model for analyzing fantastic features in comics. With the help of familiar Disney comics the model offers concrete examples how visual and textual fantasy can be broken down and analyzed thoroughly. The model has four key elements: the story of comic, comic’s visual narrative, background information offered by the author and reader’s cultural competence. All of these must be taken into account before one can make claims of comic’s fantastic features.
In his comics, Rosa uses many of the fantasy worlds that Maria Nikolajeva has discovered in her research of children’s fantasy literature. However, based on findings of this thesis, Nikolajeva’s division should be expanded with worlds that are based on myths, and more importantly with the worlds that can only be accessed by the parting of the mind and body. Also, Rosa’s concept of fantasy time differs from the general fantastic concept concerning the passing of primary time in time travel stories.
In addition to fantastic features, Rosa’s comics contain several postmodern world-building elements: he introduces the history and culture of the actual world in his fiction, makes intertextual references and parodic comments as well as challenges the notion of high and low culture. Rosa’s postmodern narrative methods like transcending the frame borders in metaleptic way, offer new meanings to analysis: how the transition between the normal world and the fantasy world may appear in comics.
The study argues that Rosa has brought the concept of history and memory to Disney comics. He chooses to make references and write sequels to the works of his predecessor, noted Disney artist Carl Barks. Rosa’s ducks remember their history and make references to the previous events that took place in their past: in Barks’ comics. By creating a coherent history to characters that in general live in episodic format narratives, Rosa has broken the conventions of Disney comics. Even the taboo of death has been violated, since Rosa has shown how Scrooge McDuck’s father passes away.
Rosa’s depiction shows Duckburg as a special place between the normal primary world and the fantastic secondary world which is one of the key arguments in this dissertation. The city is located in the map of the United States yet it is still a fictional place. Supernatural and fantastic events take place in Duckburg in the hands of the inventor Gyro Gearloose and the sorceress Magica DeSpell. However, Duckburg isn’t a secondary fantasy world since it’s accecible by regular people. And it’s not completely part of the primary world either for the supernatural occurred. It forms a liminal space, a gate between the two worlds essential for fantasy fiction. Rosa notes that Duckburg was a regular village before Scrooge McDuck arrived and helped creating the city. The relevance of ducks’ presence is essential for the fantasy in Rosa’s comics.
Rosa’s fan position’s strong influence is visible in his works and his ambitious intention of making Carl Barks (not Disney) comics has made possible to challenge the conventions of regular Disney comics. Reading Rosa’s comics require media literacy as well as cultural competence. This first doctoral dissertation that analyzes the contents of Disney comics provides a straightforward method for reading and interpreting comics in general. As the society moves more and more into social media and online networks, it is important to understand how images and text work together and form narratives. That’s one reason we should understand how comics construct their meanings.
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