An Examination of Portrayals of Smoking in Noir Graphic/ Comic Novels


Graphic Novel
Comic Book
Young Adults

How to Cite

Houghton D, Houghton F. An Examination of Portrayals of Smoking in Noir Graphic/ Comic Novels. mir [Internet]. 15Mar.2023 [cited 13Jun.2024];30(119):107-18. Available from:


Global mortality from tobacco related diseases continues to rise. Most smokers start smoking in adolescence and early adulthood. Graphic novels have a particular appeal to this age group, and are increasingly read by females and males. Prior research examining a range of graphic novels had noted high rates of portrayals of smoking in noir and cyber-punk novels. This research focussed on a random sample of noir graphic novels to explore this finding in more depth. A quantitative content analysis of ten noir graphic novels was conducted. Although there was substantial variability in the number of portrayals of smoking, smoking imagery was prevalent throughout all of the novels examined. Of particular note was the high rate of portrayals of women smoking. This is an issue given the rise in smoking rates in young women and girls in some Western countries. Some examples of substitution and relegation of tobacco products was noted, and tobacco control advocates should seek to work with artists to promote omission, substitution and relegation of such imagery. Further research is suggested to explore in more depth the characterisation of smokers in such graphic novels, and the ongoing recurrence of such imagery in contemporary graphic noir novels.