Ġorġ Mallia

Author, cartoonist and communications academic

Graphic Narrative and Storytelling


Comics and graphic novels have long been accepted as a distinctive art/communications form that utilise visual/iconic elements in combination to communicate a message in a unique way. Ġorġ Mallia’s interest in this medium has been there since childhood. He has collected thousands of comics from all over the world, and has himself (as a cartoonist and comic artist) produced a regular comic strip for sixteen years, as well as been editor of comic magazines and magazines that ran both his own and other creators’ comics.


Academically he has studied the graphic narrative format both in its role as a means of communication, as well as in its role as an educational medium, proving that the comics format can have as much cognitive effect as illustrated text (the traditional fare of textbooks). On top of this, the affective impact cannot be denied, because the genre provides entertainment as its main thrust.


A typical course of lectures about this up and coming communications genre, as envisaged by Dr Mallia, would need to include the following:


Comics language

  • What are comics and other forms of graphic sequential storytelling media?
  • Comics as communicators – the medium mutating the message and the message reforming the medium
  • Different stylistic slants: (a) cartoon style; (b) illustrative style; (c) hybrid style
  • Different stylistic schools: (a) superhero, (b) animal, (c) big-foot, (d) manga, (e) national schools, (f) etc.
  • The different sub-generic forms: (a) the single panel, (b) the comic strip, (c) the page strip, (d) the comic book, (e) the graphic novel
  • Comics narrative as discourse
  • Sequential art – distinctions in visual narrative styles and approaches
  • Visuals – perception and association
  • Economy of line technique
  • Toning and colouring – from zip-a-tone to Photoshop
  • The tools of text and sound


History and development of the genre

  • “Pre”history of the comics genre
  • Toppfer and Busch and the early practitioners
  • The cartoon as political commentator
  • The genesis of the comics form – from art to popular pulp
  • Initial steps and development in key countries
  • The superhero versus the anti-hero – from the superhero boom of the thirties, forties and sixties, to the graphic novel and mainstream acceptance
  • Juvenile versus adult and the role in and of comics
  • Society as reflected in sequential art
  • Sequential art as a mirror and commentator of society
  • Today and tomorrow


Intentions and Techniques

  • Intention and market – what for?
  • Style – cartooned, illustrative? Which school? American, Continental, Japanese?
  • Drawing – materials and approaches
  • Inking – materials and approaches
  • Colouring – hand/electronic tools
  • Lettering – hand/electronic tools
  • Peripheral applications – scanning, the pc and the Mac, notes on resolution, the use of programs such as Indesign, Illustrator Photoshop, Manga Studio, etc.
  • Finishing – physical or electronic: do’s and dont’s
  • Printing – what, which, why, where, how
  • Diffusion – which medium?


Visual Narrative


© Ġorġ Mallia 2022