Before the “Comics:” On the Seriality of Graphic Narratives during the Nineteenth Century

Federico Pagello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the connection between seriality and comics in the twentieth century has frequently been a subject of study, far less attention has been paid to the role of serialisation in the previous century, when the language of comics gradually developed in the illustrated and satirical press. This article discusses a heterogeneous group of graphic narratives published in various European countries between the 1830s and the 1880s, before a new generation of comic magazines influenced by American newspaper strips transformed this emerging field into the autonomous medium of comics. Serial works flourished during this period and included diverse modes, such as series of “graphic novels,” the use of recurring characters, the serialisation of picture stories in humour periodicals, and the use of graphic narratives as a regular feature in the illustrated news magazines. By providing a panoramic survey of various types of serial texts, the article suggests that the hybrid nature of these graphic narratives and the publishing strategies applied to them can be better understood if considered in relation to the larger context of nineteenth-century print culture, rather than in comparison with the future of the medium.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBelphegor: Litterature populaire et culture mediatique
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2016

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