Storytelling in Kabuki


Storytelling in Kabuki

An Exploration of Spatial Poetics of Comics

Steen Ledet Christiansen

Encapsulations: Critical Comics Studies Series

204 pages
10 illustrations, index


April 2024


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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April 2024


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2024


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About the Book

Steen Ledet Christiansen’s Storytelling in “Kabuki” explores the series created by David Mack—a slow, recursive narrative that focuses on the death of Kabuki and her past. The series ran from 1994 to 2004 in a variety of miniseries, one-shots, and spin-offs, rather than following a conventional American monthly release schedule. Most of the series explores different perspectives on the same event and adds background to Kabuki’s past, usually through surreal sequences, dreams, and near-death experiences. The flexibility of comics’ approach to chronology, space, focalization, narrative, and fictionality enabled Mack to produce an unusual experience. Kabuki tells a story that can only exist via comics.

Christiansen analyzes the visual design of the series, a heterogeneous collection of styles depending on the story. To understand Kabuki, it is crucial to explore the visual styles, as well as the use of visual and spatial rhymes and mixed media forms. Because Kabuki employs a complex layering of focalizations, diegetic levels, and metafictional self-reflectivity that is rare in mainstream American comics, it utilizes a narrative poetics that focuses on constant repeating, restating, and returning to the same events.

Kabuki’s unique compositional layering allows Christiansen to provide a clear example of how comics work while also expanding on critical vocabulary, especially in terms of spatial poetics. By exploring spatial form, Christiansen illuminates and gives a critical framework to a different and underexamined aspect of comics.

Author Bio

Steen Ledet Christiansen is a professor of culture, media, and aesthetics at Aalborg University. He is the author of Drone Age Cinema: Action Films and Sensory Assault and The New Cinematic Weird: Atmospheres and Worldings.


“A masterful and original exploration of space in comics. Through exemplary close readings of David Mack’s Kabuki, Steen Christiansen elaborates a spatial poetics of comics that will transform the way we think and write about comics.”—Maaheen Ahmed, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Comics

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Series Editors’ Introduction
Introduction: Let Us Space
1. Spatial Rhymes: Linkages and Refrains
2. Choreographies: Flows, Foldings, and Plasticities
3. Perspectives: Graphiation, Knots, and Positioning
4. Rhythms: Flow, Loops, and Coherence
Conclusion: It Opens at the Close

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