Comic's, Multimodality, Rachael Ball, Social Media, Tumblr

The Trick.

Figure one: Header and navigation bar for webpage. Source:

Rachael Ball is a Cartoonist and Illustrator. The piece of her work I am focusing on is The Trick. This is a short Graphic narrative about Ida and Arthur. The premise of the comic is the character Arthur visits another character Ida, and is told to go away. However when he leaves he is attacked by leaves, crying for Ida’s help, she relents and tries to save him. Her efforts go to waste, as when the leaves stop Arthur has vanished. Showing traditional comic structure and conforming to elements of childhood fairytales The Trick is a enticing, magical piece of literature.


Rachael’s work is interesting to review, there is not much use of speech, mainly image. This can give different readers different opinions on the story, theme, narrative, imagery. This is effective as images are polysemous, which means they give more emotion, are more direct, and have more potential meaning.

Figure two: Second page from The Trick. Source:

The ideational representation is how the audience views the world, this is incredibly blatant within Rachael’s work through the use of nature and the colours within the images. The use of dark, neutral colours sparks the audiences schema of nature within our world and also helps brings about the sense that something is not quite right in the storyline. The content of the story is a situation the audience can place themselves within, as at some point or another the reader would have experienced the same kind of isolation and negativity from another person – ultimately creating a reader identity. This helps create a sense of interpersonal connection from the story to the audience. However, the use of some of the landscapes used within certain panels can also push the audience back creating distance this can be seen in figure four. Regarding the textual basis of The Trick this graphic novel typically contains more text than Rachael usual work, meaning that the audience dose not have to put in as much work as they typically would to work out the story. According to Barthes ‘the meaning of images is ‘polysemous’ implying a “floating chain” of ‘signifieds’’ (1964: 156) this means that even though the audience will understand the story, they will use their own schema and create their own understand and meaning of the images used in the panels. In contrast the size of the panels also helps the audience determine the intensity of the story at individual points, for example in figure three the audience can see clearly that Arthur is in trouble and is calling for help. On the other hand figure three can also be misconstrued as a meta-panel due to everything seemingly being merged together. Even with this being done there is no disruption to the linear layout of the comic and it is still easy for the audience to read and keep track of where they are, this is also helped through the use of gutters.

Figure three: Third page from The Trick. Source:



In conclusion the inter-semiosis relationship between the images and the text are extremely powerful. According to Jones and Hafner ‘The emotional impact of images has a lot to do with the way they create interpersonal relationships with the viewers’ (2012: 61) therefore with the use of distance and the sizing of the panels the audience begin to create a emotional relationship with the story and the characters. As a graphic novel it does not rely heavily on text for support but the text used adds only in content. This makes it appealing to people of all ages, and can still be understood by adults and children. In my opinion I think the layout of the gutters, panels and the imagery draws the audience in and makes for a great story.

Figure four: fourth page from The Trick. Source:



Barthes, R. (1964). Rhetoric of the Image [online] available from <> [28th December 2017]

Jones, R.H. and Hafner, C.A. (2012) Understanding Digital Literacies: A Practical Introduction. New York: Routledge.

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