First Advisor

Elisabeth Ceppi

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in English and University Honors




Graphic novels, Warren Ellis -- Criticism and interpretation, Darick Robertson -- Criticism and interpretation




In recent years, the critical analysis of comic books has come to be a respected field in popular culture studies. Transmetropolitan, a 60 issue comic book created by writer Warren Ellis and artist Darick Robertson, became a one of the most popular nonsuperhero series throughout its publication by DC Comics in the late 1990's and early 2000's. Since the beginning of the present decade, scholars have paid increased attention to the thematic content of the series, identifying the text as a brutal transgressive satire of Western consumerist culture. This paper examines the formal structure of the work, primarily through Scott McCloud's theory of closure between panels and the gutter, and the reader response dynamics created by the structure. The primary effect of the use of closure discussed is a necessitated reader involvement that leads to reader agency within the offensive moments of the series through the generation of shame and defamiliarization. The effects of this agency are examined in light of the transgressive aims of the text. This essay finds that the readership involvement necessitated by the act of closure heightens the experiences sought after in transgressive works of art, increasing the potency of the series’ ability to convey its satirical criticisms.


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