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Comics, Cartoons, and Graphic Novels: Oh My! By Lance Eaton; Lance_Eaton@uml.edu
So what ARE comics (or graphic novels)? Unlike static or stand-alone pieces of art, which are quite often focused on capturing a moment or invoking a response, sequential art is, with some exceptions, concerned with storytelling. Comics is a useful general term for designating the phenomenon of juxtaposing images in a sequence.
Composition: the selection and placement of visual symbols on a comics page and within a panel Multimodal: a text which communicates through more than one symbol system such as comics (visual and textual) or television (visual and aural) Layout: the relationship of a single panel to the succession of panels, to the totality of the page and to totality of the story; involves choices of size, sequence, and juxtaposition
Directionally Challenged? • Panels • Left to Right • Top to Bottom • Sometimes, context rules • Text • Left to Right • Top to Bottom • Sometimes, context rules • And no, it won’t always be clear because • The text may interfere with the art. • Creators sometimes are playful with their readers.
Speech Balloons/Bubbles Thought Balloons/Bubbles Narrative Box/Voiceover
Gutter: the space between panels Panel: a discernible area that contains a moment of the story
Closure: applying background knowledge and an understanding of the relationships between encapsulated images to synthesize (or blend) sequences of panels into events (NOT ALL GUTTERS AND PANELS ARE EQUAL!)
Interanimation of meaning: images (picture or text) appearing in proximity (in a panel or on a page) can each affect the meaning of the other, and together create a meaning beyond what is communicated by each separate image
Onomatopoeia: invented words that mimic sounds Paralanguage: qualities of our spoken communication (volume, emphasis, rate, quality, etc.)
Intertextual image: a picture that reminds the reader of something he or she has encountered in other media (movies, books, paintings, TV shows, etc.) Psychological image: an image that represents some aspect of a character's personality or state of mind Emanata: Lines drawn around the head to indicate shock or surprise
diagetic images—pictures and words that depict characters, objects, and sensory environment of the world of the story nondiagetic material – pictures and words that are present in the graphic novel but not part of the world of the story
Encapsulation: selecting images that capture the flow of experience and putting them in a panel Syntagmatic choice: the process of selecting which panels to present from the possible progression of story images that could occur Paradigmatic choice: the chosen images and all the images that could have made sense or communicated nearly the same meaning at the same point in the panel
Syntagmatic choice What are the main points about the fire? Paradigmatic choice Of all the images to depict their deaths, which one does the best?
Two Main Features of Persepolis's Art • Black and White • Level of Abstraction • In both cases, it keeps focus on the narrative and mood of the text.