1st Edition

Comics and Novelization A Literary History of Bandes Dessinées

By Benoît Glaude Copyright 2023
    214 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book opens a novel perspective on comics and literature interactions. It claims that the two artistic media have always maintained a mutual emulation, for as long as they have coexisted in media culture. To demonstrate this, the present research does not focus on literary adaptations in comics form but rather on a literary corpus that remains virtually unexplored: comics-related novels. The purpose of this volume is to inventory French comics-related novels and to study them. Within the limits of the French-speaking world, this book pieces together a literary history of bande dessinée through its novels, from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. Although the comic strip – including the aptly named "graphic novel" – has sometimes been regarded as the disciple of an unsurpassable literary model, do these under-studied adaptations in novel form not rather indicate a mutual relationship, or even an emulation, between the two media?

    Introduction. Comics-related novels

    Comics and literature

    A novel perspective on comics and adaptations

    Comics novelization and the visual turn of literary writing

    Two adaptation processes generating comics-related novels

    Towards a literary history of bande dessinée

    Chapter 1. Textual margins of early comics

    How to verbalize a picture story?

    Close reading: Voyages and Adventures of Dr Festus

    Captions rewritten as a bridge over redrawn illustrations

    Big Little Books and the French book market: a missed rendezvous

    From captioned picture stories to serials-under-images

    Mickey et Minnie, a precursor to the modern French junior novelization

    Chapter 2. Enunciative issues of comics verbalizations

    The literary adventures of Tintin

    An issue of enunciative responsibility

    Literary initiations to a visual universe

    Close reading: The Adventures of Tintin

    When comics fans write literary panels

    From ekphrasis to fanfiction

    Chapter 3. Why self-novelize a comic strip?

    The illusion of a deeper reading experience

    Comics artists and literary illustration

    A logic of supplement

    Close reading: Acknowledgment of Murders, Ric Hochet’s First Case

    From graphic to literary novels

    A logic of substitution

    Chapter 4. The comics heroes’ childhood told to children

    How to relate the past of comics heroes

    The literary prequels of French comics characters

    Multiple childhoods of a Belgian-Japanese comics heroine

    Close reading: The Froth of Dawn, the First Adventure of Yoko Tsuno

    Comics-related French junior novelizations

    When a comics character writes his own autobiography

    Conclusion. Reading novels as comics novelizations

    Comics on the threshold of literary texts

    Comics as a frame for multimodal storytelling

    Comics in the factory of literary writing

    Reading novels as comics scripts


    Comics-related fiction

    Other primary sources

    Secondary criticism



    Benoît Glaude is a researcher at Universiteit Gent and a visiting lecturer at Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium. He has published several books about French-speaking comics, including his PhD on comics dialogues (La Bande dialoguée, 2019), as well as a volume on novelization in children’s literature (Les Novellisations pour la jeunesse, coedited with Laurent Déom, 2020).

    "The relationship between comics and literature is not one-way traffic: literature is not only adapted in graphic novel format, it also owes a lot to the world of comics, appropriating its forms and themes in many ways. Relying on a strong theoretical framework and robust case studies, Benoît Glaude’s trail-blazing study discloses this less known but vital dimension of intermedial connections in modern transmedia culture."

    Jan Baetens, KULeuven, Belgium

    "The meticulous research and clever thinking shown in this new work represents some of the most influential scholarship in the last decade. Benoît Glaude is a scholar of the highest order and his nuanced treatment is rigorous and powerful."

    Hugo Frey, University of Chichester, UK

    "Up until now, novelizations had attracted little academic interest. Benoît Glaude’s compelling study shows the interest of looking into this little-known corpus of texts adapting comics into literature. Nourished by fascinating case studies, his book considerably renews our approach to transmedia cultures and opens up a field of primary importance in our understanding of the history of the ninth art."

    Sylvain Lesage, Université de Lille, France

    "This remarkable work of scholarship brings a new perspective and sharp analytical insights to the study of transmedia adaptation, while providing a master class in the close reading of some famous comics alongside the fascinating and little-known novels that they have engendered."

    Ann Miller, University of Leicester, UK