Kierkegaard's Influence on Existential Comics Analysis
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Kierkegaard and Existentialism
  2. Kierkegaard in Comic Art
  3. Analysis of Existential Themes in Comics
  4. Kierkegaardian Themes in Specific Comics
  5. Impact of Kierkegaard on Modern Comic Art
  6. Comparison of Kierkegaardian Influence on Different Comic Artists
  7. Why Kierkegaard Matters in Comic Art Analysis

Let's embark on a fascinating exploration into the world of comic art, more specifically the existential comics. We're going to discover the profound impact of one man—Soren Kierkegaard—on this art form. In this blog, we'll take a closer look at Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics, analyzing the themes and comparing the influence on different artists.

Kierkegaard and Existentialism

Before we jump into Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics, let's first get to know the man himself—Soren Kierkegaard. Born in Denmark in 1813, Kierkegaard is often hailed as the first existentialist philosopher. His works, though complex, have touched every corner of the humanities, including comic art.

Existentialism, a philosophy Kierkegaard is credited with pioneering, is all about individual existence, freedom and choice. It's a philosophy that emphasizes individuality, freedom, and personal responsibility. The key point is that we as individuals are free and responsible for our own development through acts of the will.

Now, let's see how these ideas translate to the world of comics:

  • Individual Existence: In many existential comics, characters face situations where they must define themselves, often in the face of adversity. This mirrors Kierkegaard's emphasis on individual existence.
  • Freedom and Choice: Choices are a constant in existential comics, just as in life. Characters often grapple with the freedom of choice, a concept that Kierkegaard highlighted in his works.
  • Personal Responsibility: Just as Kierkegaard emphasized personal responsibility, characters in existential comics often bear the weight of their actions and decisions, revealing the consequences of their choices.

So, you see, Kierkegaard's philosophical beliefs have found their way into the panels of existential comics. But let's not stop here. Let's dive deeper into the specifics of Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics in the next segment.

Kierkegaard in Comic Art

Let's take a closer look at how Soren Kierkegaard's philosophical ideas have been incorporated into comic art. His existentialist concepts have influenced a variety of comic artists, shaping their work in unique, thought-provoking ways.

For instance, consider the case of a comic book character faced with a moral dilemma. The character must choose between two paths, each with its respective consequences. This scenario directly reflects Kierkegaard's concept of "either/or" — a choice between two distinct ways of life. In this way, comic artists use Kierkegaard's existential philosophy to add depth to their stories, creating a narrative that challenges readers to ponder life's big questions.

Another way Kierkegaard's influence manifests in comic art is through the depiction of angst. According to Kierkegaard, angst, or existential dread, arises from an individual's freedom to choose. This idea is often represented in comics through characters grappling with difficult decisions, unsure of the outcome and burdened by the weight of their freedom.

Finally, Kierkegaard's concept of "leap of faith" also makes its way into comic art. It's not uncommon to find comic characters facing situations where they must choose to believe in something without any evidence or certainty — a direct nod to Kierkegaard's idea of taking a "leap of faith".

Can you see how Kierkegaard's existential philosophy plays out in the pages of your favorite comics? It's like a hidden layer of meaning, waiting to be discovered!

Analysis of Existential Themes in Comics

Now that we've explored Kierkegaard's influence, let's dive into a broader analysis of existential themes in comics. Existentialism is all about personal freedom, choice, and responsibility, right? Well, comics give these themes a visual and narrative platform, making them more accessible and relatable.

One common theme is the struggle with identity. Many comic characters face crises of identity, often grappling with who they are versus who they want to be or who society expects them to be. This internal conflict reflects the existential struggle for authenticity, a core tenet of existential philosophy.

Freedom is another key theme. In many comics, characters find themselves with immense power or freedom, which can be both liberating and terrifying. Remember Spiderman's famous line, "With great power comes great responsibility"? That's existentialism in a nutshell!

Existential dread, or angst, is another recurring theme. Characters often confront the harsh realities of existence, such as isolation, meaningless, and death. These themes remind us of our human condition, prompting us to reflect on our own lives.

So next time you're flipping through a comic book, try to spot these existential themes. You'll see that comics are more than just entertainment; they're a mirror reflecting our deepest fears, desires, and existential dilemmas.

Kierkegaardian Themes in Specific Comics

Now, let's shift our focus to Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics by examining specific examples. By seeing how Kierkegaard's ideas come to life in these stories, you'll gain a deeper appreciation for both the philosopher and the art form.

One of the standout examples is the comic series, "Batman." If you've ever read a Batman comic, you might notice some Kierkegaardian vibes. Bruce Wayne's relentless pursuit of justice, fueled by personal tragedy, mirrors Kierkegaard's idea of the "Knight of Faith." This concept speaks to a person who, despite overwhelming despair, continues to strive towards their belief.

Another example is the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes." Calvin's frequent monologues and ponderings on life echo Kierkegaard's existential themes. His complex relationship with his imaginary friend, Hobbes, often showcases the struggle between subjective truth and objective reality, a key concept in Kierkegaard's philosophy.

Lastly, consider the comic book "Watchmen." The characters in this gritty story grapple with existential dread, freedom, and moral ambiguity—all themes Kierkegaard explored in his works. For instance, the character Rorschach embodies Kierkegaard's idea of the "Aesthetic Stage," a phase of life driven by sensual pleasures and individual desires.

These are just a few examples of how Kierkegaard's influence permeates existential comics. It's fascinating how these complex philosophical ideas can be represented in such a unique, visual medium.

Impact of Kierkegaard on Modern Comic Art

Shifting our focus a bit, let's consider how Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics has shaped modern comic art. It's a fascinating journey, so buckle up!

First off, Kierkegaard's philosophies have encouraged a deeper level of introspection in modern comic characters. You can see it in strips like "Peanuts," where characters like Charlie Brown frequently ponder existential questions. This depth adds a new layer to the characters, making them more relatable and, dare I say, human.

Secondly, Kierkegaard's existential themes have inspired more complex narratives in comic art. For example, the comic book series "Sandman" intricately explores themes of dreams, reality, and the self, very much in the spirit of Kierkegaard's philosophies.

Lastly, Kierkegaard's influence can be seen in the visual style of modern comic art. Artistic elements such as stark contrasts and symbolic imagery are often employed to represent existential themes. Take a look at "Sin City," where the heavy use of black and white imagery mirrors the existential tension between good and evil.

In conclusion, Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics has significantly impacted modern comic art, adding depth to characters, complexity to narratives, and richness to visual styles. And that, my friends, is the power of philosophy in art.

Comparison of Kierkegaardian Influence on Different Comic Artists

Now that we've seen how Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics has shaped modern comic art, let's compare how different comic artists have adopted and interpreted his philosophies.

Neil Gaiman, the mastermind behind "Sandman", uses Kierkegaardian themes to weave intricate narratives that blur the lines between dreams and reality. His characters often grapple with existential angst, mirroring Kierkegaard's own struggles with the self and purpose. It's like stepping into a mind-bending existential labyrinth!

On the other hand, Charles M. Schulz in "Peanuts" uses Kierkegaardian themes in a more subtle manner. Characters like Charlie Brown and Lucy often ponder the meaning of life in their everyday conversations. It's a gentle, relatable exploration of existentialism, lending depth to the seemingly simple comic strip.

Frank Miller's "Sin City", however, uses Kierkegaardian influences primarily in its visual style. The stark black and white contrasts echo the existential tension between good and evil, and the sometimes grim reality of life. It's like Kierkegaard's philosophies painted on a canvas.

So, even though each artist has been influenced by Kierkegaard's existential philosophies, the interpretation and application of these philosophies varies greatly. It's like looking at Kierkegaard through different lenses, each offering a unique perspective of his philosophy in comic art.

Why Kierkegaard Matters in Comic Art Analysis

So why does Kierkegaard matter when it comes to analyzing comic art? The answer lies in the depth and complexity that his existential philosophy adds to our understanding of comics.

Firstly, Kierkegaard's philosophy opens up a rich vein of interpretation. By applying his concepts of existential angst, authenticity, and individuality, we can uncover layers of meaning in comic art that might otherwise go unnoticed. For instance, a character's struggle to find their place in the world can be seen as a reflection of Kierkegaard's concept of existential angst. This gives us a deeper understanding of the character's motivations and conflicts.

Secondly, Kierkegaard's influence helps us appreciate the complexity of comic art. Comics aren't just fun and games — they can also explore profound philosophical ideas. Thanks to Kierkegaard, we can see that even the simplest comic strip can grapple with deep existential questions. Who knew that a few panels could hold such depth!

Lastly, Kierkegaard's existential philosophy helps us relate to comics on a personal level. His ideas about the self, purpose, and meaning resonate with our own personal experiences. So when we see these themes in comics, it strikes a chord. It's like the comic is speaking directly to us, echoing our own existential struggles and triumphs.

In short, Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics enriches our analysis, deepens our understanding, and strengthens our personal connection with comic art. Without him, we'd be missing out on a whole world of existential exploration!

If you enjoyed exploring Kierkegaard's influence on existential comics analysis and want to delve further into the world of comics, check out 'An Awkward Persons Guide to Comics' workshop by Anand Shenoy. This workshop will provide you with insights and tips on understanding and appreciating comics, making it a great starting point for those who want to explore the medium in more depth.