Reader Response to Rose: Sites and Audiencing in Nancy

One of the most striking things to me in Gillian Rose’s chapter on visual methodologies is how many different aspects of a visual there are. Printed pictures are so much more than the shapes and lines that made them but instead have a complex past history and future life as they are view by new audiences.* For example by looking at the sites and audiencing, the Nancy comic strip “Draw, You Varmit” featured in Mark Newgarden and Paul Karasik’s “How to Read Nancy” has additional layers of meaning.

Using Rose’s framework the first two sites are “the production of an image and the site of the image itself” (16). Ernie Bushmiller wrote, illustrated and produced “Nancy” himself which is different then some comic that has an extensive team of editors, writers, pencillers and colorists. Bushmiller’s more straightforward production mirrors the easily understood style of Nancy. The next site of the image itself can be analyzed as Newgarden and Karasik through breaking down the comic into it’s different components and the looking at how they fit together to produce the gag.

The third site Rose lays out is Audiencing which is “the process by which a particular image has its meanings renegotiated, or even rejected, by particular audiences watching in specific circumstances” (25). While audiencing could be simplified to the fact that different people view images differently, it can actually be an area of extensive analysis. The “Draw, You Varmit” Nancy strip was published in newspapers and so was viewed by many people in a variety of settings. Newspapers are often read at home and so that combined with the technological site- a printed newspaper page leads to a unique viewing experience. In newspapers the reader can flip through the pages easily bringing less attention to individual visuals like Nancy. Comic strips are also cluster together on one or two pages making Nancy one of many comics so it generally blends into the newspaper comic style.

As students reading “Draw, You Varmit” in How to Read Nancy we had a unique viewing experience. I printed the reading and so was seeing what was a digital copy of the comic strip printed on printer paper, a vastly different technological audiencing then someone reading the strip in a newspaper where it was originally published. Also because this was an assigned class reading I read the comic with the expectation that it would be complex, interesting and worthwhile. After the initial surprise at the simplicity of Nancy, Newgarden and Karasik’s  architectural analysis made the comic into more of what I expected. As a student I was conditioned to look at the details of Nancy changing the visual itself, if audiencing is considered a part of the visual as Rose does. As we, as a class, continued to view and experience Nancy the social aspect of the visual changed. We discussed Nancy as a complex architectural image which also contrasts the audiencing of the image when viewed by an individual in a newspaper

*Disclaimer, I haven’t taken any art or art history classes so maybe this is a basic concept – but it’s new to me!

34 thoughts on “Reader Response to Rose: Sites and Audiencing in Nancy

  1. parkerl

    Hi Willa, I think you bring up great points about how important the context we read something in is in terms of how we interpret it. Over just the few days we have had in class thus far I have found myself reexamining past comics and graphic novels we have read with the tools we are learned so far. I am sure if I was to re-read those texts in this setting I would interpret them differently.

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