In Contemporary Comics Storytelling, each of the constituents of the title is salient. In the introduction I focused more on the “contemporary” aspect of this book, mapping its place in a time of rising cultural prestige for comics and an era that begins to renegotiate postmodernism. Comics like Fables, Tom Strong, and 100 Bullets are literature, not so much because cultural gatekeepers are finally paying attention to them, but because their complex narrative strategies allow to them to participate in and reflect on the contemporary cultural debate. This book has endeavored to analyze the narrative strategies of the three series, unpack their complexities, and trace their connection to postmodernism. My exploration of the literary aspect of comics via contemporary storytelling practices has operated at the level of what David Bordwell (1996a) calls “middle-range research” in film studies: inquiries that are driven by a particular problem or set of interpretative challenges, as evidenced in my case studies. Such middle-range inquiries then can go on to provide the foundations for a broader narratology of comics. In this conclusion I will chart a number of ways in which Contemporary Comics Storytelling, as a middle-range inquiry, contributes to the study of storytelling—narratology—at large.
Each of my three case studies identifies a localized issue of inquiry: subversion and tradition for Fables, fictionality and self-reflexivity for Tom Strong, and fictional minds for 100 Bullets. Each case study is driven by a particular problem. For Fables, I ask how we can understand a text’s engagement with textual traditions, how it creates subversions, and how it inscribes itself into these traditions. Cultural memory, genre frames, and multimodal storytelling were the concepts I used to explain how Fables recuperates tradition for the postmodern, subversive fairy tale.