Signs of Disintegration: Subversive Visual Expressions of Processes of Social Transformation and Ideological Clashes in a Czech Graphic Novel Series about Political History

By: Martin Foret


Volume: 07
Issue: 02:2021
ISSN: 2459-2943
DOI: 10.18680/hss.2021.0020
Pages: 123-149
Lic.: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Code of comics
Semiotic resources
Non-representational ideas
Czech graphic novels
Political history



The article deals with comics’ (re)presentation of conceptual – political and ideological – content and how the semiotic potentials of non-representational ideas associated with social upheaval and political crises are expressed. After considering comics’ potential to express abstract (non-depictive) concepts, we examine three Czech graphic novels, which concern crucial moments in Czech political history: the Austrian-Hungarian Empire’s collapse and the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918; the disintegration of Czechoslovakia after the Nazi occupation in 1938; and the reformists’ defeat by the invading Warsaw pact armies in the Prague Spring of 1968. In each case, we investigate the semiotic resources chosen by the individual artists to present these events. Finally, we describe how the selected historiographical graphic novels reflect the ideology of a transforming nation and express a sense of non-self-evidentness for the nation as an independent state.


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