The Narrator of Time
Jens Harder only began drawing comics as an adult. This influences his work: rather than using conventional narrative structures, he uses an associative narrative style to expand the concept of the medium – most noticeably in his multi-volume history of the universe.
By Stefan Pannor
At a glanceJens Harder was born in Weißwasser (East Germany) in 1970. In 1996 he began a degree in communication design at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin, which is where he first came into closer contact with comics as a medium, and especially with the highly abstract and experimental works of cartoonists such as Chris Ware and Richard McGuire. “I wanted to achieve something similar, broadening the view of the reader and thereby delegating part of the narration to him.”
The smaller scaleIn 1999 Harder co-founded the Monogatari group of illustrators to which Ulli Lust also belonged and which existed until 2005. The group produced a series of reports in comic form from Berlin, Basel and Israel that was entitled Alltagsbeobachtungen (i.e. Everyday Observations), because Harder believed that “the primary focus should always be on relevance and reality”. A highly associative style of narrative is already evident in these reports: the observations, which for the most part contain fewer than 20 pages, are put together from a large number of individual images. Rather than featuring a constant narrative flow, they depict various individual events that are not continuously interlinked but are interrupted by comments and digressions.
In his graphic novel “Alpha: ...directions”, Jens Harder depicts the evolution of the universe and of the Earth. He illustrates the results of existing research, such as into how the continents evolved…
... or how life on Earth came into being, juxtaposing this with pictorial quotes from art history and popular culture.
Beta ...civilisations" he describes the period from the appearance of the first cave paintings...
... to the emergence of literate culture and modernity.