Comics Online: Detention and White Space in "A Guard’s Story"


  • Golnar Nabizadeh The University of Western Australia


comics, digital, online, asylum seekers, ‘A Guard's Story’


This paper explores the intersections between online comics, biopolitics, and the experimental form in “At Work Inside Our Detention Centres: A Guard’s Story”. It begins by noting the domestic Australian context in which the comic is published, and the risks taken by the anonymous narrator in sharing the experience with the story’s creators. The analysis argues that the narrative intervenes in the visual archive by bringing to light encounters between guards and detainees who are mostly excluded from recognition in the broader mediascape. The paper suggests that in this way, the narrative draws attentions to ‘states of exception’ that repress knowledge about the plight and rights of refugees and asylum seekers, by depicting some of the traumas experienced by detainees and their guards. By undertaking a detailed examination of the mechanics of ‘A Guard’s Story’, including the use of white-space, and scrolling, the paper establishes the way in which the narrative seeks to intervene in the visual archive in relation to asylum seekers and refugees. Through this analysis, the paper demonstrates the productive capacity of comics to explore, and provoke, questions about aesthetics and the representation of biopolitics and human rights, particularly in the digital domain.

Author Biography

Golnar Nabizadeh, The University of Western Australia

Golnar Nabizadeh is Lecturer in Comics Studies at the University of Dundee. Her main research interests are in the fields of trauma and memory studies, visual culture, and critical theory, and she has a monograph forthcoming with Ashgate Publishing entitled Representation and Memory in Graphic Novels (2017). She has published in Cultural Studies Review, Adaptation, and WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, and is co-editing a forthcoming issue of Textual Practice on ‘Fiction in the Age of Risk’.