Graphic sound and silence: Chris Ware's aural depiction of alienation and isolation

Ryan Twomey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Focusing on scenes from Jimmy Corrigan, Rusty Brown, and The Last Saturday, this article examines the multifarious ways in which sound is employed, and silence is created, in Chris Ware’s graphic literature. In examining these various aural and textual examples, focus will be given to the ways that sound and silence heightens character alienation and isolation, themes readily identifiable to readers of Ware’s oeuvre. It will be argued that during the moments of alienation, Ware’s characters’ isolation is enhanced by moments of silence and the manipulation of diegetic sound. Further, I will examine the employment of what I term ‘sequential absence of sound’ and ‘reverse sequential absence of sound’. Sequential absence of sound is created by removing previously observable diegetic sounds from proceeding panels to create a sense of absence, while the use of reverse absence of sound utilises diegetic sound after periods of silence to draw reader attention to the period of silence just passed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-107
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Graphic Novels and Comics
Issue number1
Early online date23 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Chris Ware
  • graphic novels
  • silence
  • sound
  • theory


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