A Tale of Humanity; Visual Rhetoric of Photographic Imagery in Independent Comic

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Terra Bajraghosa1, Budi Irawanto2, Seno Gumira Ajidarma3



Photographic imagery is an element that appears only in a small portion of comics but is thought to have a particular function in building the story plot. Storytelling became a crucial element in the creation of independent comics in Indonesia after 2010 so they could reach a wider audience. The warmth of humanity's tale intersecting with stories of everyday life reflects on the readers, who immediately find a connection to the tale. In comics titled 'Pupus Putus Sekolah' by Kurnia Harta Winata and 'Left Behind' by Azisa Noor, which were created and self-published by the creators themselves, photographic imagery is presented as part of a visual narrative that bonds the relationships and reduces conflict between people, without losing its ability to remain entertaining.

This study aims to investigate the visual rhetoric of photographic imagery in independent comics with humanity stories. The photographic imagery examined in this research is illustrations that represent photographic media and not scene visualization using photographic techniques. This study uses a qualitative method, with descriptive analysis based on a visual rhetorical approach, to see the symbolic ability of photographic imagery in constructing the meaning of comic stories.

The result of the study showed that photographic imageries in independent comics were presented with the same illustration depiction style as the characters in the story through a photo framing code, whether in the form of a frame or a smartphone screen. The rhetoric of photographic imagery carries out visual descriptions that function as 'given information' in a sequential series, without which a comic story would have a completely different meaning.

Keywords: independent comic, photographic imagery, visual rhetoric, humanity


Full Text




[1]       L. Berman, “Comics as Social Commentary in Java, Indonesia,” in Illustrating Asia: Comics, Humor Magazines, and Picture Books, London: Curzon Press, 2001.

[2]       K. H. Winata, Pupus putus sekolah!: anak berharga. Yogyakarta: Self Published by Kurnia Harta Winata, 2022.

[3]       A. Noor, “Left Behind,” in Lessons, Bandung: Self Published by Archfriend, 2017.

[4]       Z. Alkatiri, “Parody Criticism of the Military Regime of the Indonesian New Order in Yogyakarta Underground Comics, 1995–2000,” Int. J. Comic Art Vol. 16 No.2, Fall/ Winter 2014, 2014.

[5]       T. Imanda, “Komik Indonesia itu Maju; Tantangan Komikus Underground Indonesia,” Antropol. Indones., vol. 69, pp. 47–63, 2002.

[6]       N. Pedri, “Thinking about Photography in Comics,” Image Narrat., vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 1–13, 2015.

[7]       A. Arsita, “Jukstaposisi Fotografi Di Novel Grafis ‘ The Photographer’’,’” Specta; J. Fotogr. Art Media, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 135–144, 2018.

[8]       C. Fischer, “The Lives of Insect; On Photography and Comics,” Comics J., vol. December, 2012.

[9]       S. G. Ajidarma, “Fotografi dalam Cerita Gambar,” in Kalacitra, Jakarta: Gang Kabel, 2022.

[10]     R. Sabin, Adult Comics; An Introduction. Routledge, 1993.

[11]     R. Sabin, “Comics, Comix, and Graphic Novel; A History of Comic Art.” Phaidon Press, New York, 1996.

[12]     T. Bajraghosa, “Komik Mandiri In Yogyakarta; Local Values Representation In Independent Comics,” Humanit. Arts Soc. Sci. Stud., vol. 19, no. 2, pp. 388–405, 2019.

[13]     S. K. Foss, “Theory of Visual Rhetoric,” in Handbook of Visual Communication: Theory, Methods, and Media, London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 2005, pp. 141–152.

[14]     Irwandi, “Retorika Fotografis Remaja Putri dalam Praktik Studio Potret Yogyakarta,” Universitas Gadjah Mada, 2016.

[15]     P. W. Harsanto, Retorika Visual Fotografis dalam Iklan Koran. Yogyakarta: PT Kanisius, 2016.

[16]     E. Hu, “How Do You Define Humanity in Comic Books.”

[17]     E. Lawson, “Graphic medicine: Humanity in cartoon rats,” Br. J. Gen. Pract., vol. 63, no. 615, p. 541, 2013, doi: 10.3399/bjgp13X673793.

[18]     S. Venkatesan and S. Saji, “Rhetorics of the Visual : Graphic Medicine , Comics and its Affordances,” Rupkatha J. Interdiscip. Stud. Humanit., vol. 8, no. 3, 2016, doi: 10.21659/rupkatha.v8n3.23.

[19]     S. McCloud, “Understanding Comics; The Invisible Arts.” Kitchen Sink Press, Northhampton, 1993.

[20]     S. McCloud, Making Comics; Storytelling Screts of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. New York: Harpers, 2006.

[21]     M. Saraceni, The Language of Comics. New York: Routledge, 2003. doi: 10.1002/9781444354843.ch7.

[22]     C. Barker and D. Galasinski, Cultural Studies and Discourse Analysis; A Dialogue on Language and Identity. London: SAGE Publications, 2001.

[23]     J. Fiske, Introduction to Communication Studies. Routledge, 2011.

[24]     T. Schirato and J. Webb, Reading The Visual. Allen & Unwin, 2004.

[25]     S. H. Wicaksono, “Pseudo-Reality Representation of Agan Harahap’s Photography Work,” in The 10th International Conference for Asia-Pacific Art Studies 2022, 2022.

[26]     Y. Ibrahim, “The vernacular of photobombing: The aesthetics of transgression,” Convergence, vol. 25, no. 5–6, pp. 1111–1122, 2019, doi: 10.1177/1354856517743666.

[27]     H. Karnadi, “Fetish in Amateur Photography Practice,” Int. J. Creat. Arts Stud., vol. 9, no. 2, 2022.

[28]     J. Sacco, Journalism. New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012.