Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Context: I am the Copy Editor of the Yearbook

Shameless plug: If you, my dear sweet fellow English majors, want to write things for the yearbook, email mmulligan19@my.whitworth.edu

Thoughts: I think that yearbooks (when done well) and comics (when done well) have a lot of similarities. They both use a unique and evolving medium that combines image and text to convey the story being told and they both acknowledge the importance of the planche as more than a space where the images and text simply are but as a part of the overall image and text relationship. 

When I was in High School, I was Editor in Chief of our yearbook for two years and the books we produced were honestly just terrible. The page layouts were okay and the stories were relatively grammatically correct, but neither I, nor my advisor, nor anyone else on my staff really had any understanding of how to successfully carry a theme throughout a book, which, as I have had greater experience with journalism and design in college yearbook, I have found to be the thing that makes or breaks a yearbook. My first day of yearbook class my freshman year of high school was a brainstorming session where our advisor handed us a printout covered in a list of cliches and asked us to decide on the theme. We decided on a "choose your own adventure theme," thinking that we would be much more original and creative than all of the other schools doing "These are our memories" or "Welcome to the Jungle." We were wrong. 

here are more cliche themes if you want to peruse and cry a few tears: 

I have seen examples of other schools going just as wrong with their theme when they draw inspiration from comics. Here are some examples: 


(cue shock and horror)

I am really interested though, in how a yearbook might be able to draw inspiration from comics without shamelessly banking on pop art and comic-sans (which makes all things terrible.) 
The idea of panel, or photo size, really emphasizing an important moment or event or image is used both in yearbook and in comics, however I think that by playing with panels, and maybe even the effects of leaving some panels broken or pictures uniquely cropped, more can be conveyed about an image than just the simple facts.
As the copy editor especially, I focus a lot of headlines, subheads and captions. All of which become a part of the page, and when done well, effectively connect each page of the book cohesively. The idea though, that each page in its self should tell a story and contribute to the overall story of the year is something that might be fun to play with from a design standpoint with these elements. Headlines that interact with, and nod to the images, rather than merely introducing them...
subheads that tell a story in a few succinct words...
captions that tell not only give context for images, but add to the image, become a part of the image...

Thinking on these things, I am trying to figure out how I can take what I've learned about visual text and apply it to the way that we incorporate yearbook design. I want to be able to use all of the elements of visual storytelling in my favorite form of visual storytelling and pay homage to the wonderful world of comics without throwing the comics theme in the readers face.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Games Aren’t Comics! …Right?

Looking at the various games we’ve been examining over the past two weeks has left me wondering whether they can or should be considered comics, and how to actually apply the various definitions of comics that we’ve learned over the course. Something that seems pretty clear to me now is that no single definition, or even set of definitions is ever quite going to cut it. Whether McCloud’s definition of comics as “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer,” Harvey’s more open definition of comics as “pictorial narratives or expositions in which words (often lettered into the picture area within speech balloons) usually contribute to the meaning of the pictures and vice versa,” or some amalgam of these two definitions or others, there are always going to be certain things which, strictly speaking, fit these definitions but don’t really seem to fit the "spirit" of comics, and other things which are excluded even though they do seem to be comics. In the case of the games we’ve been looking at, I knew that I didn’t think they were comics, but I wasn’t quite sure why. In considering this, I thought a bit more about the complexity of time in comics, and how the two work together. Despite the inherent difficulty in creating a working definition, I am going to go out on a limb and propose that the games and interactive activities we have been examining cannot actually be considered comics, due to their violation of certain temporal imagistic principles.

If we consider comics as being a series of interrelated images juxtaposed together, or even as a series of images juxtaposed together along with textual elements, that still leaves the definition far too broad; movies with subtitles would then be considered comics since there are a series of juxtaposed images. However, I would suggest that comics must consist of various imagistic elements which are themselves fixed in actual time, juxtaposed against other images which are likewise fixed in actual time. Despite the fact that time can pass within a single comics panel, I think there is a difference between actual temporal progression (such as in a movie, cartoon, video game, etc.) and implied temporal progression. As an example, in a Batman panel where Batman is punching the Joker, there is the implication that, within that singular panel, Batman cocked his arm, sent his fist through the air, and his fist then connected with the joker’s face. Despite the fact that the panel itself is completely motionless, and strictly speaking portrays only a single instant in time, the panel can imply moments before and after the instant itself, as in the above example. If there were actual, not implied, temporal progression in the panel, then it would be an animation, not a comic.
This does cause some trouble with some of the animated comics we looked at today, such as Romantically Apocalyptic, which has animated elements within each panel. I would still consider that to be comics, despite it not quite fitting in with my implied temporal progression theory. Even so, each of the panels in Romantically Apocalyptic does still show only a single moment in time, even if some of the background elements are animated. For example, in the first panel there is an animated wind blowing, but the wind itself does not necessarily suggest that there is actually progression in time within the panel since one, the other elements of the panel remain fixed, and two, the wind itself is not demonstrative of progressive change or evolution in the scene (as in a cartoon or movie) but is rather a constant and ‘static’ force; the wind is constantly and consistently blowing, and as such is much more a dynamically-static (word I just made up. Yay for me!) element than it is an element which demonstrates any sort of clear temporal progression.
This is my best attempt to explain why games, even those which match comics so much in tone, style, and progression just don’t seem like they can be considered comics to me. Even so, I’m not sure if my altered definition is useful or accurate. What do you guys think? Is there anyone who would make the case that games can be comics? How do you see time, both real and implied, working within comics?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Comedy Comics Complete me

We've definitely skewed more towards dramatic/formal comics than purely comedic ones so far in this course (and so the blog posts so far have also skewed that way), but I just wanted to make a post appreciating the humor that comics utilize so well.

Comedy is a genre of film (Blazing Saddles, Three Amigos, Dumb and Dumber, and Anchorman being examples of pure comedies in different decades), but not a genre of video game. Video games absolutely can have the goal of the game be to make the player laugh (Goat Simulator anyone?), but games where this is the sole objective are few. Mostly what happens is comedic elements get placed in a game with other intentions, such as the Grand Theft Auto series and the Portal pair of games. To my knowledge, this is similar in the realm of literature, right? (Calling all English majors to inform me one way or the other.) Books have comedic elements thrown in all the time, and there are a few books where I'm sure the author's goal primarily is to make the reader laugh, but go into a Barnes and Noble and there IS a small section labeled "Humor" (I go to that section all the time), but most of what you find there are comedic autobiographies by celebrities, gag books and/or books literally just containing jokes, and satirical books like the ones The Onion puts out. Also, comics are often in this section! Generally, "comedy" is not a genre of literature in the way that "historical fiction" or "mystery" are, as far as I know.

But in comics, some of the early contributors to the medium becoming as recognized and appreciated for the past 50+ years were called "funnies," and ran in newspapers for the sole purpose of making a reader chuckle after a quick read. Now I don't personally find many of the contemporary newspaper comics very funny at all, but I've always gravitated toward Pearls Before Swine, Dilbert, and The Far Side, and loved Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes a ton when I was a pre-teen. For some reason, that handful appealed to who I am/who I was the best, while I'm sure they would have zero effect on many other people. This is probably why newspapers like to throw in like 15 or more comic strips in their funny page, because they know everyone has different comedic tastes. Some people may just not find humor in the whole medium itself, and not emit a single laugh after reading the "funnies" for twenty years!

I think being consistently funny on a daily basis for an extended amount of time would be the hardest career ever, so I really admire standup comedians who do that and of course comic strip artists as well. Props to them!

Some comics we've looked at in this course have often made me laugh out loud like a crazy person, so I try to make sure I read them in my room alone instead of in the library or something. The two web comics by Balak Bigerel, the Pup Contemplates, Hyperbole and a Half, Low Moon, and of course Cereal with a Fork lately have all made me crack up so hard recently, and same with some of the anthology comics like Wendy or Vintage Trash and Horse Bones. I'm not going to go into specifically what makes all these funny things funny, but I will talk about what comics CAN do to be funny in my opinion. I think a lot of parallels can be drawn from comedy in comics to the "Edgar Wright and Visual Comedy" video essay by Every Frame a Painting that we watched in class a few weeks back, a lot of the same principles in that essay can apply to comics as well. (Especially Hyperbole and a Half!)

I think a good portion of what makes comics funny is anticipation vs surprise. Hypothetically, in a four panel comic, a joke that would probably work on me every time is if character A asks a question to character B in panel 1, character B responds with a ridiculous answer or misunderstands the question entirely in panel 2, panel 3 is just the two of them staring at each other, and panel 4 is character A saying something like "You're a f*cking idiot." That's comedy gold to me, and that's because of the anticipation, the panel of pause where you can feel that character A is both frustrated and amused by B's idiotic response. (See Pearls Before Swine panels with just Pig and Rat for many conversations like this.) And surprise also can be a staple of making people laugh, because confusion of subverting expectations can often be received as humorous. For example, in a large 3 panel setup, characters A and B could be talking about their atheism in panel 1, then politely ask each other about their families or jobs in panel 2, and then in panel 3 out of nowhere they could both be lightning bolted to a crisp by God and God could be saying "filthy heathens" or something. The shift of topic to something else draws the reader away from the idea that God will be involved in the conclusion, only to be surprised when he is.

Cereal with a Fork and The Far Side are kind of different beasts though, they generally fall outside of what McCloud would even call comics because it's just a picture and a caption in most cases, not sequential panels. And because of this, they can't really use the strategies of anticipation and surprise above, unless perhaps someone is greatly surprised by the caption under the image. Instead they operate in another McCloudian principle, the scale of words vs images. Some comics need no words because their images do most of the work, others are the opposite. But the comedy in Cereal with a Fork comes from the perfect balance/interaction between the words and pictures, they both add meaning to one another when they are combined.

Anyway, that was just a teeny sample of what comics can do to be funny, please comment below other tactics you've noticed artists use or things that have made you laugh from our course! And English people please inform me how comedy might fit or not fit into literature in a genre sense if you can, I'm always super interested in how things are labeled into specific genres or not.

APC

Far Fetched Idea about Assembly Instructions

You get out of your car and walk through the massive parking lot and head toward the entrance. A dark blue and bright yellow building illuminates in front of you. You are almost in awe; the colossal size intimidates you. As you enter, the familiar scent of furniture, dirty kids, weird food and some other stench that is unidentifiable steeps its way into your skin.

"Ahh, good ol' IKEA," you say to yourself as you follow the arrows to the furniture section.

As you happily pick up your aesthetically pleasing yet ridiculously expensive drawer, you attempt to find the register, but find yourself in a maze of people and arrows. Frantically looking at the signs, you are lost for 30 minutes, then an hour. Finally a young gentlemen points you in the right direction and you purchase your furniture, then walk out with a sense of anxiety yet utter excitement.

You get home and attempt to rip the tape off with complete failure, having to get a knife to do the job. You finally saw your way through the cardboard box and meticulously rip the plastic bags, putting the pieces in an organized line. Then you grab the instructions and see this:


Can assembly instructions be a form of comics? I was recently helping my friend put together a drawer and saw these. It got me thinking: if these could be considered a form of comics, how can they be more effective? Most instructions are often cluttered, taking most of the diegetic space and extra diegetic space with words and weird pictures. In this example, there is obviously a panel with a gutter. The first two panels are a tad confusing, as there is a two men in the right side of the panel, and the next panel, he is gone. Where did he go? What kind of transition can this be according to McCloud? It is clear that most instructions regarding the context is a lexia, a block of text designed to be read as a single unit, if there is text. 


The concatenation of the assembly instructions are quite clear as everything has to be brought together to convey the right way of putting together something. Most of the images, text on these instructions all work together to aid the owner in putting that thing together. IKEA in particular has chosen to utilize their instructions and make it "more fun". These instructions for Edward are quite hilarious and effective. 


I often find myself getting utterly confused by assembly instructions in general. There is just way to much going on in the panels/ space that makes me want to give up right away. With that being said, is there an effective way to create instructions? Or would it be better if instructions utilized more aspects of comics? Or would you rather have very concise instructions. Personally, I would like some panache in my instructions. 

Let me know your thoughts!

In Defense of Mrs. Small

David Small undoubtedly suffered at the hand of his mother. However, as he says in his acknowledgments at the end of Stitches, his picture of his mother is incomplete. Going back and reexamining moments of terrible parenting, we get a better sense of the person she was, and of how she was raised. David's great grandparents were awful, and clearly weren't a positive influence in their granddaughter's life. His mother's father died when she was ten. His mother's mother is clearly abusive. Even in her old age she has no patience for David, and casually scalds his hands. It is in the scene where David almost tells his mother that his grandmother is "crazy" that I grew an appreciation for how Small is using detail. Most characters are drawn gross and exaggerated, big phony smiles and not much else. Rarely is there distinct detail. But in this scene, for four pages, we can't see his mom's eyes beneath her sunglasses. Then, when David tries to say "crazy" his mother covers his mouth, and looks toward the door, where it is implied his grandmother is listening. His mother is terrified, and the fear in her eyes turns to anger in the next panel, the only other panel where her eyes are visible in this sequence. Her fear immediately turns to anger, and I truly think her yelling at David is to protect him. David's grandmother is crazy, certifiably so. Who knows what kinds of abuses she heaped onto her daughter in her youth, particularly after her dad died in a drunk driving accident. She certainly wasn't given a healthy sexual education, as can be seen both in her secret lesbian life and in her anger at David's reading materials. I believe she collects and burns David's books out of fear of her own sexual desires, something that she likely saw as unnatural and smutty. Almost all of the injustice she heaps on David is a byproduct of life with her mother, a cycle that tends to be perpetuated in every household. David's father is a doctor, they're clearly fine on money, and yet his mother panics when David leaves the lights on all night and sleeps under the table. She grew up with a mother who was naturally worried about electricity bills, being a maid and a single parent. David's grandmother was undoubtedly emotionally distant, and his mother is the same way, even ignoring David when he blatantly accuses them of hiding his cancer. I'm not saying that her actions are excusable, or that she's a good person. I'm just saying that Small makes too many intentional choices of including detail on his mothers face, and of including her families history, to not want the reader to get a 3D picture of his mother. For a woman who was raised by an actual insane person (she tried to light her husband on fire!), David's mother seems to be trying, at the very least.

Motion in Comics, Rather Than Comics in Motion

When we were discussing motion comics in class I immediately thought of Romantically Apocalyptic (which I highly recommend looking at, because it's very striking visually) though it's not really a motion comic. It's an example of the beginning of the integration of both motion and the infinite canvas concept into comics, I think.

I'll begin with the infinite canvas part, since it's not really the topic of the rest of this post. The comic, in each installment, scrolls from top to bottom continuously until the end of each "chapter." The creator then makes use of this motion on the page by making similar motion occur between images, making the movement of the page feel like it is natural to the progression of the events, and almost as if the motion is creating the effect. This is particularly true of the first installment (which is very cool, in my opinion.) In the opening panel of the story part, one of the main characters, the first introduced, is dwarfed by a huge environment, which makes a suitable first impression for the world of the comic. In the next two panels, however, the image draws in closer to the character, becoming more personal and specific as you gain more details about him and his circumstances. This zoom in then allows you to feel greater connection when combined with the words between each image (I think the words always occur between images because the author doesn't want to interrupt the beauty and detail in each image, plus there are some instances where the words get pretty lengthy, which is why it might not be for everyone. It must have taken forever to make each one, though). After this introduction the fluidity between the page movement and the character movement continues, as the character then falls downwards as you scroll down, giving concrete motion to something which would in other cases simply be illustrated with downward motion lines.

This continuity between the scrolling and the page movement breaks after this, but the way it does so is still demonstrative of the careful consideration given to the effect scrolling could have. The fluidity between the two elements is broken suddenly by the character hitting the ground. The suddenness of both then compliment each other and allow for the next moment to have the tone it does. At this point Snippy's (the character's) thought and motion both stop because his attention is captured by the introduction of a second main character, Captain. The motion (apart from motion--sometimes implied--in the actual panels to direct the gaze, which will be addressed next) is stopped while Snippy himself is basically enthralled by Captain, but after this momentary pause in motion to reflect this enthrallment, the motion is picked up again as Captain descends towards Snippy. This is done through zooming in once more, but the effect when scrolling down is Captain comes towards Snippy, and because he then becomes the point of view of the image, towards the reader. After this the story breaks off to continue in another installment, but it seems like a more natural break than some created by the necessities of a page.

Anyway, as for the motion elements within the comic I'll use the first installment again. Although the title heart mushroom cloud has motion, it is very slight and doesn't produce the visual effect that the rest of the examples do, so we'll pass that over for now.The first story panel contains the first notable example of motion within the image itself.  The environment surrounding Snippy is already dwarfing him, but the addition of the snow-filled wind to the panel has several effects. The first is that control of the environment seems even more impossible for Snippy. If it were still there maybe the impression that despite the harshness of the landscape (because of the beauty of the image) Snippy would be able to cope (never mind the words for the moment). With the wind blasting towards him quickly, and with something almost anyone would recognize as threat this is not possible.

The wind itself also adds an element of reality to the image. The look of it by itself is enough to bring cold to the forefront of the mind, making you think of the way Snippy must be experiencing the environment due to the speed with which the wind rushes at him, and the cold a reader would associate with feeling a wind of the same category. This is then a movement towards reality from within the stylized world presented. The stylized elements make the characters and environment avoid the uncanny valley effect and help it depart from typical apocalypse/dystopia illustrations, but the touches of the real world within make it believable because the reader then has something to connect to their own experience (or at least that's the effect it had for me).

There is a slight problem with the use of this wind however, in that the image cycle for the wind is very short. If you stay on the first image longer than intended you will see a slight hitch as the wind begins to cycle through the panel again. It's very slight, and it took me several times through to actually notice it (it's hard to see if you're scrolling at the same time, another benefit of the scrolling format), so it isn't much of a problem, but it could be distracting if the change were more noticeable or you needed to spend several cycles on the panel. This problem is largely escaped in the other panels where motion is used because of the nature of the motions included. For the most part the rest of the motion elements are things that our cyclically anyway, such as lightning or the sun glinting from a person's movement. These escape the distraction of the break because it seems natural that there would be a gap between one instance and the next. The regularity with which they occur can become a problem if you pause on the image for too many cycles, but as the words occur beneath the panels you are encouraged to continue down to those after taking in the image and before this occurs, in most cases. On the topic of the text, that it occurs in the fashion that it does, as I detailed above, means that there are no speech bubbles in use, which makes the colors denoting each different speaker necessary for identification, and the colors must then correspond to the images. This is another use of infinite canvas as the colors come first, and then are associated with the character before the introduction of their dialogue, meaning that there is no confusion in attempting to identify this element, as it seems natural that the words relate to the images in this fashion (or at least it did to me).

Now, back on topic again, the other exception to this use of already cyclical motion is in one of the falling panels, where Snippy and the snow around him jerks back and forth slightly. The effect of this while scrolling makes the falling motion even more prominent. When you pause on the image, however, it has the effect of looking reminiscent of the representations of time freezes you sometimes see in movies. The jerking seems to be the oscillation between different parts of the same movement (the rain and Snippy Falling) so that the whole motion is frozen, but it still gives a sense of what the motion is and how it would continue were it to be unfrozen.

Overall the motion in this comic is largely successful, especially compared with some of the examples we watched in class. This seems to be largely due to the fact that in most circumstances the motion has nothing to do with the characters and everything to do with the environment around them. there are a few exceptions, such as the falling panel discussed just now, and an instance in a later installment where a motion signals a change in vision for another charter not present int he first installment. To me it seems that the motion is then emphasizing something about the panel rather than making the panel be about the motion itself, as it would seem to be with a character in motion. It also works particularly well here because of the place the reader occupies. The whole format, content wise, in regards to the words is the characters (mostly Snippy) retelling his experiences. The audience is therefore an observer/listener. The motion in the comic just happens, with no outside input from the audience, and so their role in the story does not become more active than it would otherwise be, and they are then allowed to just take in the motion and its effects as part of the story. This is opposite to the motion present in some of the interactive examples we looked at. In terms of effectiveness I don't really know how to compare them because they seem to be reaching towards different goals, so I'll leave that for you to decide now that I've made this so long nobody is actually going to read it.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

On the Convergence of Graphic Novels and Regular Novels.

McCloud describes a balance between image and text in comics. For McCloud's definition of comics, something which falls all the way on the visual side (say, Shaun Tan's The Arrival, which has no words) still counts as a comic. On the other hand, a work with all words and no images (any traditional novel), is clearly not a comic. However, I think there is a big grey are in which words are much more heavily used than pictures which hasn't been explored as much by authors. However, I do know of a few examples. Jonathan Saffron Foer's novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which Fred talked about in class is clearly a visual text in the way that it makes the type and images integral to the reading of the book. I think that Mark Z. Danielewski does a similar thing to Foer, but more substantially in his works, particularly his 27 book series The Familiar which includes all sorts of visual elements and texts jammed together including two pages of comics in the middle of the first novel in the series. A third approach is that of Brian Selznick, the author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret as well as a couple of other books which use a similar format of sections entirely in prose and then sections entirely in images.

What then, do we do with those things which challenge the clear distinction between novels and comics? I'm not sure, but my instinct is that it isn't important to name them. I think as authors continue to think visually, comics and prose will become less considered as distinct mediums and more as formal choices among a continuum of visual storytelling styles.


A page from Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
One of many visual moves typical of Danielewski. 

David Small is Really Good at the Borderless Panel.

I read Stitches this morning and I found it was so engrossing that I often found myself flying through pages without really considering the craft, which I think is a result of the skill with which Small crafts his comics. One of the few really noticeable stylistic choices that I picked up on while going through Stitches was Small's use of borderless panels. I think the first time I really picked up on it was this striking example:


Pgs. 190-193
In this example, the move to borderless panels coincides with increasingly magnified and abstracted images. There's a lot going on here, but I think that in this instance the removal of the border is working to signal a shift away from the photo-representation of a particular period of time towards a more surreal space of thoughts and impressions. In the context of the story and along with the words, I think the lack of borders here is also working to contribute towards a sense of disorientation and the loss of control. The images seem to spill onto the page with no clear edge, and pigment is splattered faintly around each image of the stitches. The final transition where the most flatly abstracted image of the wound is used to transition to a more concrete, full-bleed image is brilliant, and moving away from the borderless panel reestablishes a sense that the image is a real moment (at least for me).

That said, when I went back through the book with my McCloud glasses on, I found that Small uses borderless panels quite a bit throughout the book, and they all function differently. Similarly, Small moves to a more abstract, surrealist feeling at several points in the book, and he doesn't always use the same strategy of going to borderless panels. I'm interested to discuss the memoir on Monday and see what everyone else thought of the borderless panels and Small's other stylistic and formal choices.

Music and Comics

Music has always been utilized as a vessel to carry an array of meanings due to its raw emotions, its implications, and the many messages that can be ascertained just by one note. It is a quite significant form of art, that transcends into many mediums to help create a specific meaning, underlying message, etc. I recently wrote a twenty page paper on how sound is important and prevalent in the poetry of both Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, with over 10 sources of research. Through the immense amount of research, I developed a new love for how music interacts with mediums and the many ways that artists accentuate and utilize this, depending on what they are creating. For Dickinson, sound was heavily used through the form, her meters, specifically tetrameter, with meticulous diction in order to establish her ideas. With this in mind, she was also heavily influenced by music starting from when she was a little girl, playing piano and attending concerts. Her love for music heavily influenced her poetry, specifically things related to death, love, nature and religion. One of my favorite poems is:

"Like some Old fashioned Miracle"
                                    When Summertime is done-
                                    Seems Summer’s Recollection
                                    And the affairs of June
                                   
                                    As infinite Tradition
                                    As Cinderella Bays-
                                    Or Little John- of Lincoln Green
                                    Or Blue Beard’s Galleries

                                    Her Bees have a fictitious Hum-
                                    Her Blossoms, like a Dream-
                                    Elate us- till we almost weep-
                                    So plausible- they seem-
           
                                    Her Memories like Strains- Review-
                                    When Orchestra is dumb-
                                    The Violin in Baize replaced-

                                    And Ear- and Heaven- numb-


The diction alone provides an in depth meaning: "hum", "when orchestra is dumb", etc. Anyhow, to relate back to comics and the discussion we recently had in class regarding sound and music, I started wondering about the best way to include the presence of music. Usually, there are lines that suggest noise, big bolded words to suggest sound and meaning, or specific lines from songs, or the typical music notes that run from panel to panel to suggest the continuous sound of one song, etc. The sheet music effect usually takes up both the diegetic and extra diegetic space; the artist can essentially deceive the reader in some aspect, as sometimes we are not meant to see the music being played; it can be hidden. In addition, the music can be used to fill in the extra spaces, to add substance to that individual panel. So, the artist can simply use motion of characters and icons to convey this sense of sound, for instance if someone or something inflicts pain, the action of the character holding their hands up to their ears obviously resemble this pain. I think that an interesting concept would be to include this music in the gutter or to see the use of sound prominent in the diction being used, much like how Dickinson uses specific, strong words to demonstrate the effectiveness. Anyways, let me know what way is most effective for you!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Billboards: The Biggest Panel

So after examining a whole lot of billboards, I am pretty sure that they cannot be counted as comics, in the same way that The Family Circus isn't really a comic. However, I have noticed that the best billboards employ comics tools, taking advantage of full bleed, enormous size, assumptions of form, and white space (in this case, just the space around the billboard.)


When an image wants to be noticed in a comic, particularly in a panel, it breaks outside of the lines that surround the panel, bursting either into white space or a neighboring panel. I would be far more likely to look at the billboard for Silberman's Fitness Center than I would for just another rectangle plastered with a website domain in black block letters.


Now examine this billboard, which takes advantage of our expectations about billboard shape. My eye would be drawn to this advertisement, because the shape is out of place, much how your eye is drawn to a circular panel when surrounded by squares. If you consider previous billboards to be previous panels (albeit unrelated in story) then this panel would seem more important than the rest.


Finally, look at how this billboard takes advantage of it's unique form. In comics terms, I would say this billboard is stretching what its defined diegetic space is. Again, the difference from the norm makes the argument of the board more convincing than most. The fact that we don't see bill boards like this more often is a sign that comics studies are not being applied in the visual design world outside of comics! It seems there is so much to be gained basing design off of comics principles, and yet that is something that I rarely see being considered.

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