Reading Comic Contracts through/within the Circuit of Culture

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Contracts are central to the functioning of societies, and the circulation of cultural artefacts within them. At the same time, comic or visual contracting—where relational contracts are drawn up with comics and visuals to ensure they are read and understood—is becoming an increasingly widespread cultural practice. This paper analyses the complex space of comic contracts in the circuit of culture. As the ‘circuit of culture’ model developed by Paul du Guy et al. (1997) tells us, intrinsic to processes or moments of consumption, production, identity and representation are matters of ‘regulation’, understood as a framework of distinctions that regulate cultural life, and the boundary between public and private behaviours. While regulation is integral to the circuit of culture, it is also open to re-imagining and re-thinking. Indeed, an increasingly vocal view in legal studies suggests that ‘text-based’ contracts are broken (Andersen and Corner, 2022). Evidence suggests that visual contracts help avoid contractual disputes (Andersen, 2020), and well-designed use of visuals and narrative can help with understanding complex information (Andersen, 2022). Disrupting conventional approaches to contracts and ‘professional’ or ‘effective communication’ looms as a critically and culturally urgent task. Drawing on circuit of culture theory, comic contracts can be studied as a site in which the articulation of (and between) moments of production, consumption, text creation and identity is re-worked according to different logics, codes and conventions. Working across communication, media and legal studies, this paper considers the complex position of legal regulation in the circuit of culture model, and then proposes to discuss comic contracts through a circuit of culture perspective in order to look at the way they articulate representations and identities to instances of production and consumption. The presenters hope to deploy the circuit of culture model in the comic contracting space to present new perspectives on behavioural drivers that influence the comprehension and understanding of rights and responsibilities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sept 2023
EventGraphic Horizons: The Future of Comics in an Intermedial World - University of Adelaide, North Terrace Campus, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 14 Sept 202315 Sept 2023


ConferenceGraphic Horizons
Internet address


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