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Humour in picturebooks: an examination of its construction and emergence through creative practice

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posted on 2023-08-30, 19:07 authored by Elys Dolan
The aim of this research was to investigate how picturebook makers create humour through creative practice. It was motivated by a gap in our existing knowledge concerning the processes behind the creation of humour and comic effect in a picturebook from the maker’s perspective. As this research seeks to explore this subject from the point of view of the picturebook maker, it has been primarily led by my practice. A series of picturebook case studies were created in the real-world context of the publishing industry for the purpose of this research. The practice employed in making these was analysed and reflected upon using Schön’s (1983) approach to reflective practice. The knowledge gained from this was triangulated with semi-structured interviews with other makers concerning their approaches to creating humorous picturebooks. This provided insight into the way in which they use their practice to create comic content and contextualised the knowledge gained through practice-based research. This research found that comic devices similar to those utilised in other forms of comedy are used to create humour in picturebooks. However, these devices are employed using parameters unique to the picturebook form, such as the combination of word and image, the use of space to indicate time and the turning of the page. This research concludes that there is an intersection of conscious and unconscious practice within my practice when humour emerges during the making of a picturebook, though it often initially emerges unconsciously as a by-product of practice. There are actions that I can engage in as a maker to promote the emergence of humour, such as what has been termed by this research as ‘creative play’. These findings relate to my practice, but there is evidence to suggest that similar approaches exist in the practice of other makers. In addition, this research identified the benefits of using the synthesis of word and image found in picturebooks to communicate research findings. This takes the form of a pictorial essay which simultaneously demonstrates and explains the application of comic devices in picturebooks.



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