Multi-panel comic narratives in Australian first world war trench publications as citizen journalism

Jane Chapman, Daniel Ellin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although textual expressions by soldiers in their own trench and troopship newspapers are relatively well known, the way that the men created and used cartoon multi-panel format is not. Humorous visual self-expression has provided a record of satirical social observation from a 'bottom up' perspective. The contribution made by illustrative narratives of the armed forces needs to be acknowledged as early citizen journalism. Comic art by servicemen - mainly from the lower ranks - has contributed to the evolution of democratic self-expression in popular culture, and manifests aspects of collective First World War experience that can be construed as a form of journalistic observation. Soldiers' universal concerns about daily life, complaints and feelings about officers, medical services, discomforts, food and drink, leave, military routines, and their expectations versus emerging reality are emphasised. In this paper, we argue that perceptions of Australian identity can also be discerned in the detailed interaction between drawings, dialogue, and/or text that is unique to this early comic-strip form.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalAustralian journal of communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


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