The Repeatable Hand and the Mediated Self in Mira Jacob’s Good Talk

By: Nicholas Wirtz


Volume: 07
Issue: 01:2021
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2021.0017
Pages: 45-71
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Digital materiality



The handmade mark is privileged in non-fiction comics studies, the reproduced hand offering embodied, subjective immediacy. In Good Talk, Mira Jacob digitally collages vector-drawn ‘paper dolls’ with various media, presenting an authorial subject unaccounted for by such scholarship. What is at stake in this article, then, is the relationship of the hand to the subject. Considering this relationship through a departure from a too facile semiotic distinction of indexical as opposed to merely iconic and symbolic signs, this article reconsiders indexicalities beyond the ostentatiously handcrafted
aesthetics of some graphic memoirs to examine the effects of digital lettering, of re-contextualized photographs, and of other interventions to examine and move beyond some media-specific associations of immediacy and authenticity with the individualized gesture. Examining Jacob’s decontextualization and repudiation of such forms on the terms of her refusal to perform a subjectivity expected from a racialized subject, it explores instead the possibilities of re-contextualizations of ‘paper-dolls’ in the conversations opened by her ‘scrapbook’ aesthetics. Shifting much of the intersubjective emotional work from the autobiographer to the reader, Jacob’s innovative digital mode presents a risky but ethically productive formal invitation to read off and see the other’s experience without the illusion of subjective equivalence. Hence, this article reinterprets non-fiction comics’ representation of reality beginning with the underappreciated material mark, not as a semantically conventionalized unit but as the material grounds of any such signification. In this perspective, it addresses the materialist discourses implicit in the handmade mark by entering into a conversation with Hillary Chute, Aaron Kashtan, and Hannah Miodrag’s discussions of comics marks as media indexing process and instantiating meaning as well as Ariella Azoulay, Friedrich Kittler, and John Berger’s writings on the subjective presence and Susan Kirtley’s discussion of scrapbooking in comics.


Download full text: PDF

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: seo services | Thanks to seo company, web designer and internet marketing company