Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Newman, Amy

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of English


This thesis analyzes the visual rhetoric of sexual assault through the unique medium of web-based comics composed by noncommercial artists. The focus was on features compiled from Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics and Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen’s Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design, as well as one related to representation of those involved in sexual assault: abusers and survivors, art style, act and gaze, size of frame and social distance, horizontal angle, and vertical angle.

This examination reveals four things about the rhetoric of sexual assault and consent in these comics. First, the comics are used as documentary-like, objective teaching tools. Second, they primarily use calls to action that demand behavioral change rather than demand overt physical action. Third, these comics fill the need for the survivor’s perspective. Finally, consent is generally passed over in favor of concentrating on the consequences of sexual assault.


63 pages




Northern Illinois University

Rights Statement

In Copyright

Rights Statement 2

NIU theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from Huskie Commons for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without the written permission of the authors.

Media Type


Included in

Rhetoric Commons