PRAXIS in Practice: Queer time and chronotopia in comics and graphic novels

PRAXIS is a critical reapprehension of the structural dynamics of Western superhero comics, particularly Marvel’s X-Men. Following Grant Morrison’s New X-Men (2012), which interrogates the binary dynamics faced by the previously marginalised mutant community, PRAXIS follows a group of queer ‘expe’ (extraordinary people) students who set out to discover the truth of their world for themselves. This narrative structure allows me to test the suppositions of my thesis – that the formal system of comics lends itself to trans-temporal storytelling, that queer creators have intuited these dynamics, and that such non-linear narratives offer opportunities for critical engagement with the reader.

In this book, I test out some of the methods developed by engagement with Thierry Groensteen’s concept of spatiotopia, the arrangement and connection between objects on the comic page, and extended into chronotopia, the connection between objects across the entire ‘metaframe’ of the book and, thus, across time (2007). PRAXIS uses compressed storytelling, non-expository world-building, temporal mechanics unique to comics (such as the citation effect and resonance) and trials new methods such as “chrono-chromatics.” Each of these is used with a view to creating a critical relationship between author and reader, in which readers are invited to question socio-political structural dynamics.

Garry McLaughlin, University of Dundee

The Headmistress PRAXIS #1 by Garry McLaughlin. Digital image of a woman with a big head.
The Headmistress PRAXIS #1 by Garry McLaughlin


Page 1 PRAXIS #1 by Garry McLaughlin. Digital image of an illustration of a city.
Page 1 PRAXIS #1 by Garry McLaughlin


Oba, main character PRAXIS #1. Digital image of a person with short hair on a cian background
Oba, main character PRAXIS #1