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  • 5. Spooner - Satania revised(1)

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My Friend the Devil: Gothic Comics, the Whimsical Macabre and Rewriting William Blake in Vehlmann and Kerascoët’s Satania

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Gothic Studies
Issue number3
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)318-334
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This article develops the concept of the ‘whimsical macabre’, introduced in my book Post-millennial Gothic: Comedy, Romance and the Rise of Happy Gothic (2017) to refer to texts which deliberately fuse the comic and cute with the sinister, monstrous or grotesque. I propose that Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët’s graphic novel Satania (2016) extends the whimsical macabre in new directions, by drawing on the work of Romantic poet and artist William Blake, whose illustrated books are often cited as forerunners of modern comics. By rewriting Blake’s visionary account of a journey into the infernal regions in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793) and alluding to Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789/1794), Satania reveals the serious ethical dimensions that underlie the whimsical macabre. In doing so, it interrogates and complicates the maturational narrative associated with children’s and young adult literature. The article concludes by suggesting that Satania’s heroine Charlie’s relationship with her demon draws on a Blakeian model of friendship in opposition, pointing towards a ‘reparative’ form of Gothic in which otherness is neither erased or expelled, but embraced and cherished.