Introduction: enacting comic book geographies
Comics as a Research Practice: Drawing Narrative Geographies Beyond the Frame explores the doing of comics as a creative, narrative, context-based, and mobile practice for conducting research in geography and intervening in urban contexts through art-based interferences in comics form. Starting from an cross-disciplinary perspective (McCormack 2005, p. 119) and a transdisciplinary research practice, the book responds to the call for a ‘commitment to resolute experimentalisin’ (Dewsbury et al. 2002, p. 440) in geographical research and proposes comic book geographies as a prolific laboratory for conducting creative methodological experimentations in urban spaces. The book speaks especially to those working in the geohumanities and in urban and literary geography, and, more generally, to all those cultural geographers that are interested in experimenting with creative methods for the narrativisation of cities, maps, places, and everyday mobile practices. The book is also meant to move beyond disciplinary boundaries and speak to scholars working in the interdisciplinary fields of mobility, spatial literary, urban, cultural, and visual studies. Anthropologists exploring visual methods, sociologists, urbanists working with narrative approaches to urban contexts, art practitioners interested in exploring the possibilities and limits of research-art collaborations, and even comics authors particularly attentive to the representation of space could be equally engaged by the practice-based approach of the book. Quoting Nigel Thrift, the book is ‘concerned with thought-in-action, with presentation rather than representation’ (Thrift 1996, p. 7) and, thus, also attempts to engage with a less specialist readership, including students at ditferent levels who would like to start practicing cross-disciplinary spatial thinking. For this reason, theoretical and methodological reasoning in the book is explained through practice-based examples and concrete case studies that show how to ideate, compose, and disseminate urban comics. Finally, through the insertion of coloured images, such as photographs taken during fieldwork and original comics pages, along with several autoethnographic and ethnofictional excerpts, readers have access to the research process from a narrative and internal perspective and are invited to engage with comics as means to activate geographical thinking. Readers of this book have an active role to play since they are asked to take part in the process of meaning-making and of assembling and disassembling urban narratives.