Monday, December 7, 2015

Multi-paneling in 300

Almost everyone has seen or heard of the gory, brutal (and incredibly blue screened) film 300. It is particularly famous for its slow motion sequences, gory deaths, and of course, for kicking people into massive pits. But how would the slow motion fighting that we associate 300 with be achieved in comic form? The answer lies in large amounts of small panels that occur over top of a larger spread, as seen in the image below. Columns that feature a large amounts of smaller panels makes the reader read faster and makes the events occurring in the panels seem more drawn out as more panels are spent detailing the occurrence. In the image below, the large page spread depicts the Spartans battling  from a larger perspective, while the small panels super imposed at the bottom detail the same battle but on a more personal level. There are 3 panels at the bottom that depict one of the enemy soldiers being killed, and with so many panels being used to show one small event, it makes the event seem more drawn out and is very similar to the slow motion effects seen in the 300 movies.

-James Holland


Dealings in the Dark: Color and Narrative

Color is something that is often overlooked in comics, it is something that readers don't pay particular attention too. To them, color is as natural in a comic as it is in a movie or TV show. More often then not subtle color changes can be contribute significantly to the narrative of the comic in question. The two images below are taken from Darth Vader #12 and features Vader meeting with his associate Aphra. Aphra, who is introduced in issue #4, could be considered Vader's private investigator with regards to finding information about Luke Skywalker, Vader's son. In this instance, Aphra and Vader meet in a dark cave and discuss the tense employee/employer relationship. In the 4th panel in the image on the right, we see Aphra's features darken so that she is barely recognizable, the same can be said for Vader of the opposing page (but he has such a recognizable silhouette readers wound instantly him). The reason the are meeting in the dark on a faraway planet, is that Vader does not want his superiors to know about his dealings with Aphra, and the color change contributes to this notion of secrecy. We see a return to the normal color palate in the 5th and 6th panels on the second image. This is interesting to note because this takes place immediately after Aphra and Vader strike a new deal. There is no more need for secrecy now that the deed has been done, and the cartoonist returns to the original color scheme to suggest that the need for hidden faces (or masks in Vader's case) is no longer necessary.

-James Holland

Darth Vader - November 2015
Darth Vader - November 2015

Silent Audio in Darth Vader

With the 'Force Awakens' just around the corner, I picked up Marvels 'Darth Vader' series in order to re-familiarize myself with the Star Wars universe. What was most fascinating while reading Darth Vader is how the cartoonist is able to create sound in comics. The following images are taken from issue #6 and occur immediately after Darth Vader discovers he has a son. In this first image, there is
very little speech being utilized with the exception of the two in panels 2 and 4, aside from these the entire page is completely void of anything denoting sound. However, the third panel features a single crack in the glass, and despite the lack of a sound effect, you can imagine the sound of the glass cracking. This is achieved by the cartoonist limiting the amount of 'audio' used on this page. When readers reach panel 3 and see the lack of audio effects, they still associate the image with the sound of glass breaking. If any other 'audio effects' were present in panel 3, the 'silent crack' would not be as prominent as it is because the readers would be distracted by the other sounds. By makign an entire page silent, as seen in the image on the right, readers fill in this silence by association. For example, the cracking of glass is seen again in the second image, but readers might also hear the hissing of the smoke as pipes shatter and break before the power of the force. Again, we see a lack of audio effects with the exception of the speech bubble.  There is smoke, cracks in the glass, and small bends in the metal floor, and interestingly enough there are a lack of sound effects here, yet readers can still hear the hissing of the smoke and the screams of the metal being bent by the force and most importantly, Darth Vader's ominous, robotic, breathing.

-James Holland


The Beauty Supply District-- Panel & Artist Line

In the University of Windsor’s Leddy Library I found a graphic novel called “The Beauty Supply District” by Ben Katchor. To be completely honest I chose it because the book was a very interesting shape, very rectangular and quite large. This comic was much different than the other ones I chose. The graphic novel was extremely simple, coloured in all black and white, with a very raw artist line. You could not exactly call the graphic novel creative as it followed very traditional elements of comic theory. What was especially interesting to me was the use of panels on a page. It followed through with the notion of being “simple.” Through the entire story the same pattern and organization of panels was used. There continually were about eight panels on the page organized into two lines of four panels. There is not a page that doesn’t follow this pattern. According to Duncan and Smith “readers also engage in a sort of closure among the panels on a particular page, considering them in relation to the totality of the page. Each panel is both an element of encapsulated action (perceived as time) and an element in the design of the page layout (perceived as space)” (167). By taking the page layout in as a whole and being able to experience the similarity of panels on the page and throughout the entire work it creates a sort of narrative understanding where you know what to expect. The simple design of the comic as well as simple panel structure puts the reader in a different frame of mind while reading. Another element to look at is the use of artist line. Just by looking at a single frame of Ben Katchor’s comics you can immediately tell it is his work. He has a very defined line that is hard to mistake. As McCloud touches on, the drawing style and line is a way in which the style can create mood and meaning and the way it is associated with different artists, just from the drawing. He uses a lot of shading that looks like it is a water painting and a very fine line to outline characters. This technique when used on people’s faces creates a different outlook on their personalities and the reader unconsciously perceives how they interact with other characters in the narrative.

Teaching an Old Bat New Tricks about Comics

Writer: Paul Pope
Colourist: Jose Villarrubia
Publisher: DC 

Post by Jamie Adam

When you imagine comics, what do you think of? Thierry Groensteen argues, in his book System of Comics, that most people envision panels on a page. However, there is a crucial element frequently overlooked in this conception—the gutters. The imagined panels could not exist if there were no gutters, also known as the space between panels. This crucial space often goes unnoticed, so this post will shed some light on the function of the margins and gutters of a comics page.

Working from the outside in, the margins are usually comprised of the white space surrounding the page. Groensteen argues that the dimensions of a margin affects a reader’s perception of the page, as well as enhance the contents of the page (31). 

Moreover, when panels are lined up evenly, they form a border, or a frame, so Groensteen calls this effect the hyperframe. Groensteen writes, “the hyperframe separates the useable surface of the page from its peripheral zone, or margin” (Groensteen 31). He also says that “the hyperframe is to the page what the frame is to the panel” (31), but with one crucial difference—usually the hyperframe is intermittent. Again, the hyperframe is the space around the edge of the panels; it can be thought of as the inside border of the margin. Further, there are gaps in the hyperframe where the gutters between panels lie, making the hyperframe more conceptual than physical, as it is not a solid line, nor really an intentional element. 

So now that you know what the margin is, what the hyperframe is, and what gutters are, let’s look at an atypical example from Batman Year 100 to see how these aspects work in tandem to affect the reading of a comic.

Here’s page 169:

Now, the border you see is added automatically when uploading a photo to the blog--the panels go right to the edge of the page in the book. It’s a subtle fact that you probably wouldn’t have noticed were we not discussing margins. So what effect does this have? Subconsciously, the reader takes note that there is so much action that it cannot be contained by traditional paneling, but goes right to the edge of the page on every side. Now look at the gutters—they’re not white. They’re a very light brown or beige. This lends the story a somewhat dirty, grimy feel. Think about the impact this scene would have if it had crisp, white margins and gutters. Not the same, is it? A one final point: if there are no margins, where’s the hyperframe in this example? I’ll tell you—it’s the outside edges of the page. Even if there are no margins, the hyperframe still exists.

Maybe now the gutters, margins, and hyperframe will get the recognition they deserve when thinking about and reading comics.

-Jamie Adam

Movement in The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke is an origin story for the famously known Batman villain, the Joker. The story follows the clown in a pre-Joker era, where he is a family man attempting to make ends meet. He then begins to roll with the wrong crowd in a desperate attempt for money and tries to break into the chemical plant he used to work at. A confrontation with police officers ensue, to which the man panics and runs, falling into toxic waste just inches before Batman is able to catch him.
Movement throughout The Killing Joke, according to Wolk, movement of a comic in general is strongly in one direction, panel to panel flow—but not exclusively. When this flow is interrupted, however, the effect it has on the comic as a whole is that it makes readers pause to take in the shift/change of flow. This can be done, as it is in the above two page spread, with placements of character in panel space. It is evident that Batman is interrupting the flow of comics temporarily to prevent the would-be Joker from falling into the toxic waste. The irony of this is that Batman is usually the one trying to prevent Joker from causing mayhem in Gotham, thus creating another layer of meaning in the placement of characters in this space. Furthermore, Moore and Bolland’s choice of doing this creates another added tension in the sequence, and as Hatfield would describe, comics is the art of tensions. 
- Alyssa Litynesky

Speech Bubble and Caption Boxes in The Mighty Thor #1

The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron, Russel Dauterman, Matthew Wilson and Joe Sabino, was recently released with a new #1. Sabino, the letterer for Thor,  usese various techniques that aide the reader in making meaning. When you look at his caption boxes, they all have a particular shape and lettering. The boxes each have a curling tail, which combined with the stylized script, gives it the overall appearance of an old scroll. These elements are what Gene Krannenburg calls an meta-narrative qualities. Meta-narrative gives the reader information about the text, in this case it is a connection to the mythological aspects of the comic. There is also what Gerard Genette would call an intertextual aspect to these text boxes. Intertextuality is the connection a text makes to other texts. In this case, the lettering used in these text boxes it the same lettering that was used in the previous incarnation of Thor (Thor: God of Thunder). The lettering therefore contextualizes the comic, placing the now female version of the character in the same world as the previous male incarnation.

       Sabino used similar techniques in his speech bubbles. Most prominently, is when Jane Foster transforms into Thor. With this transformation, the lettering of Foster’s speech bubbles change from the generic comic lettering, to the more ornate lettering that is found in the caption boxes and the speech bubbles of Asgardian’s.  This change in lettering serves several functions. First, it contextualizes by allowing the reader to easily recognize her as fundamentally changed, she is now closer to an Asgardian than a mortal, with all the same powers. It also helps the reader understand that she sounds different, which, when coupled with the complete change in speech patterns, allows the reader to more easily suspend there disbelief and accept that no one recognizes her when she transforms. Finally, there is a thematic resonance in the change in lettering. In this first issue, Foster is shown to contemplate why she decides to change back. She explains that her job as Jane Foster is just as important, despite the fact that the transformations are negating the cancer treatments. However, the fact that when she transforms, the lettering changes to match the lettering of the captions, which are narration told in 1st person from Foster’s perspective, could suggest a continuing struggle between her dual-identities and the choices she will have to make in regards to it. These functions demonstrate how Sabino uses lettering to give information beyond simply what the characters are saying.

Nathanya Barnett 

Saga and Lettering

     In reference to the following page of Saga, Issue #1, page 5 (written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples) I will be discussing the use Kannenberg's theory on lettering, metanarrative, and font.
Saga - March 2012
     The lettering used in this particular page varies between captions and within speech bubbles. The captions are what affect Kannenberg's idea of the metanarrative the most. In comparison to the bolder text used within the speech bubbles, the captions look much more hand-written and soft around the edges. Furthermore, in comparison to the other fonts especially, it is actually quite small. This affects the way the reader would read it; almost giving it a "smaller" or "quieter' voice. In relation to what we know/eventually learn from this issue, this "smaller" voice makes sense, since it is representing the baby of the characters shown here (Marko and Lana). Thus, the connection left from the metanarrative makes sense.

     The other use of lettering, less in relation to metanarrative and more in relation to the narrative itself/the font, is the speech bubble in the second panel with the larger and bolder font. This represents the loudness that the scream would represent; we know it's a scream because of the exclamation mark as well as the "ahhhn" sound effect with it, and the fact that the font is not only bolder but larger adds to this effect.

     To that end, in relation to theories on lettering and such, this page of Saga gives a few examples of how it can effect metanarrative and the narrative in general.

-Kerrisa Drouillard

Time in the Panels of Jar of Fools

In the comic Jar of Fools, Jason Lutes has a habit of repeating an image to manipulate the length of time a scene takes. According to Eric Rabkin, there are specific methods an author can use to dictate time. The more complexity of the comic, the slower the time is. The more symbolic it is, the faster time in the comic moves. In Jar of Fools, Lutes uses sped up and slowed time in repeating similar panels in sequence. (This is much easier to explain via an example)

In this sequence, the man, Charlie, has his face in a similar position for 4 panels to emphasize the jerky movements of his head because he feels under pressure. He doesn't complete a sentence in any of the panels, and this lack of completion causes the reader to move on to the next panel quickly. Even though this angle stretches longer than it should, it actually quickens time in this case because of its simplicity. 

The page above on the other hand is meant to slow down time. It is the first page of the second part of the book, and it draws more suspense by slowing down time drastically. The large panel slows time simply because it is so large and your eye is drawn to it longer. The smaller panels slow you down further because they look the same with only minor changes. The narrative also implies waiting because they are waiting for the light to change. It is a very slow page with the intention of making you flip to the next page because it was so dull. 

These are only two examples, but Lutes uses repetitive panels often in Jar of Fools for different reasons, but he controls time efficiently because of it.

-Vanessa Huasasquiche 

Guardians of the Galaxy and a Panel-to-Panel Transition

     In reference to the following double-page spread of Guardians of the Galaxy, Issue #2 (written by Brian Bendis, art by Valerio Schiti, and colour by Richard Isanove) I will be discussing the use of panel-to-panel transitions in relation to Scott McCloud's theory on moment-to-moment transitions.

     Moment-to-moment panel transitions, according to Scott McCloud, are transitions with very little "closure" - very little time between each panel (represented through the gutters), essentially. The writer or perhaps artist purposely wants to slow time down for the reader. Thus while this may not be done very often in comics, when it is used, it tends to be for a specific purpose. In this example, we see the movement of Hala's (a Kree alien from the planet Hala) head, a transition that takes up the span of a double-page spread. While this may seem excessive, in the context of this spread, it has a point. One that can even be seen through the images alone; her facial expressions. We can recognize these through our own perception of facial expressions, and note that they are most likely related to anger, sadness, and agony. We see the slow transition of what seems to be a stern and blank face to that of a screaming, crying (noted by the liquid coming out of her eyes, which while it may be black because she is an alien, we can relate to human tears) and anguished face.This moment-to-moment transition gives us a glimpse into the true pain she must feel, because rather than just showing this transition within a few short and/or small panels to get it over with in a quick portrayal, it is dragged out for emphasis and impact. Moreover, we can come to this conclusion because - as seen through the caption boxes and within the pages previously - we learn that her entire species had been wiped out and this is her reaction to that.  To that end, this example of a moment-to-moment panel transition is used to reveal and emphasize a character's emotions. 

Flashback in the New Ms. Marvel # 1

                In this issue of Ms. Marvel, the creators, G. Willow Wilson, Takesha Miyazawa, and Adrian Alphona, have used a number of elements to indicate that a flashback is occurring. The first element are the words spray-painted on the wall “ Bruno and Mike Meet Cute!”, which is what Gerard Genette calls a paratext. Paratexts are elements that surround a text and present it.

PG.21                                                                                       PG. 21
Specifically, this is a peritext, which is a paratext located within a text, for instance a chapter title, which is essentially what these words are.  This peritext indicates a change to the reader, as it is the only such internal title. Additionally, in the context of the character’s conversation , the discussion of when Bruno and Mike became a couple, the reader can easily recognize this peritext as an indicator of a flashback. Looking at the context of the conversation is an example of the multimodal reading of this section.  As Dale Jacobs explains, comic books are read in multiple modes, readers make meaning through multiple modes of conveying information, verbal, visual, gestural, ect. In this case, the conversation that gives context is verbal information, and important information is also gained visually, through the change in clothing. Bruno, while in the same location, is wearing significantly different clothing, indicating a shift in time. Additional visual information is gained through the peritext, via Groensteen’s idea of braiding. The peritext is surrounded by elements that are taken from the previous run of Ms. Marvel, for instance, the simplified cartoon Kamala and the sloth with wings. These are arthorlogical connections to the previous run, connections that the reader can braid together and understand that the following sequence is a flashback. In essence, it can be recognized as happening before the current run.  The most obvious indicator of a flashback is also visual, and it is the change in art style and page layout. The style changes from a fairly clean line to a sketchier style, the large clean gutters with distinct panel lines become rough edges with small gutters and panels that often overlap, the art stops being contained and breaks out of the panel.  This style is the style of the previous run, and in fact the entire flashback sequence was drawn by the previous run’s artist (Adrian Alphona). All these call backs to the previous run depend on the reader’s resources for design, on whether or not they read the previous run. If they did, they can use braiding to connect all these elements and easily recognize the flashback. For readers who did not read the previous run, it is still recognizable as a flashback because the shift in style and clothes is distinct, and the peritext is clear enough. The creators used the available affordances of comics to make the flashback clear to first time readers, and also to reward readers who have been reading since the beginning.
 (PG. 22)

Nathanya Barnett

Apes in the Woods: A Colouring Book

For my second blog post, I decided to read an entirely different monthly comic. I chose the comic because the salesclerk told me it was published by Glassmonkey, which is a publishing company, located right at home in Windsor Ontario. The comic is called “Apes in the Woods” written and illustrated by April Fawler. The comic was generally very quirky and clearly written as fiction. However what really stuck out to me was the way the comic magazine felt in my hands. The paper was very similar to the paper in a colouring book, something that you would use a crayon to colour on. As well as the paper being very similar to a colouring book, the authors line is very interesting in the sense the comic looks like it has been drawn right on the page with a magic marker. The combination of these two elements makes the comic less serious, the reader assumes the comic is written for a younger audience and will automatically have a happy-go-lucky narrative strictly because of the feel of the page and the way the cartoons look. This concept ties into Ian Hague’s theory on comics as a material that affects the way a comic gets read. He compares Hatfield to McCloud’s ideas, “in remarking on both the physicality of sight and the existence of tactility as a means for accessing comics, Hatfield begins to move beyond the formalist abstraction of McCloud and acknowledges the significance of the physical form that comics take” (22). This theory is implying that readers not only take away meaning from the narrative and elements that are in a comic but from the physical feeling of a comic. Using the example I provided, I felt as if I was reading from a colouring book, which completely changed the way I felt and understood the narrative. Just by looking and feeling the pages I could put a genre to the magazine and right away understand it as a children’s comic.

Braiding, Symbolism, audience participation, closure in WATCHMEN

David Gibbon's Watchmen is a perfect example of the human condition, complex characterization, and very expressive illustrations. I've found that this novel was FILLED with psychological realism and there was a tension throughout the entire novel. This is a novel where the words and images compliment and support each other so well and bring out an incredible perspective of the plot.

 I find the colour to have a profound physical and emotional impact. The colours emphasize the environment and expresses a dominant mood and tone. It's filled with sensation when you used McCloud's theory of Closure by connecting all images to get the bigger picture.

These two pages tie in well with Duncan and Smith's cognitive response theory because as a reader, I am interpreting all the images and connecting them on the page to construct the meaning of the story. The moment where Big Figure runs into the restroom and Rorschach follows after him gets the reader involved because we only see the beginning and the ending of what happens. So when Big Figure runs into the rest-room with Rorschach following him, our minds are engaged because we don't see what happens behind the door. But the result is Rorschach walking out and at the bottom of the page we see what appears to be a puddle of blood. It was difficult at first, because the environment was red, so the liquid could have been water, but because the colour of the surface create a darker tone, and when we see a red liquid, we immediately associate it with blood. By only showing the blood as a result of what happened, as a reader I went back to the top of the page again to make my own meaning by engaging in my imagination. Connecting images and moments together to create the bigger picture, and the author wanted to present it in this way because he trusts the imagination of the reader, and above all its much more pleasurable to engage in our own creativity when the author is giving us the choice to decide what Rorschach did to Big Figure.

Duncan and Smith's theory of comics being additive plays such an important role in Watchmen because there's certain motifs playing simultaneously.

The image of the nuclear doomsday clock

The comedian's badge which could represent the good times, but when it's covered with blood, it symbolizes the end of the good times.

The clock on the cover of chapter 1 is set 12 minutes to midnight, but as we get to each new chapter, the clock is moved forward by one minute indicating as a timebomb. As a reader, I was very aware of this clock throughout my entire reading, because the clock served as a touchstone image for me that was a reminder that when the story was progressing, the clock was ticking simultaneously. It got me more invested in what exactly was going to happen. Also the title of the book is called "WATCHMEN". I thought it was interesting that there's a motif of the clock and wristwatches throughout the story, and it connects with the title of the novel. This ties in with Groensteen's theory of braiding, and that we make meaning by flipping back to pages and connecting them all to make sense of the entire image as a whole.

Groensteen's braiding is also shown when Seymour spills ketchup on his shirt which ironically is a happy face similar to the comedian's badge. Immediately as a reader i made instant connections and it reminded me as a reader to think about the significance of the comedian's badge and how does it serve as a role in the story.

The Mighty Thor and Page Layout

     In reference to the following double-page spread of The Mighty Thor, Issue #1 (written by Jason Aaron, art by Russell Dauterman, and colour by Matthew Wilson), I will be discussing the use of page layout. More specifically, Jason Hatfield's theory of sequence vs. surface.

     Within the page(s) of a comic, there is the surface which the reader will first take in with their eyes, and the sequence of images within the page(s). Readers then must figure out the relationship between to two within their own mind and create meaning from them, which is otherwise known as the tension between them. This can usually be done through the way artists decide to set up page layout. They will use design elements that can contribute to the balance of the page, or perhaps the purposeful imbalance, such as in this example.

     In consideration of the surface of this entire two page spread, because of the way the bodies in space are seemingly moving (because of the movement/action lines around their bodies and/or the shape of their bodies) to the right, it draws the readers eye to the right in order to draw their attention to the panels there. The panels themselves force the readers eye to follow the sequence of them from then on, the eye's natural movement wanting to follow the curve of them from the top of the page down to the bottom (because of the habit of doing so within other books in comics, and because of the curved shape of the panels as well). Moreover, the body that lies atop of the first panel and is beneath the second helps create this movement, as well as the hand on top of the second panel pointing downward and the fingers overlapping the third panel. In addition, this hand and these fingers seem to almost be holding the panels there for the reader, further drawing their eye to the panels and their sequence within the page.

     Also, if we look within the panels to the right themselves, they are creating their own sequence. While most things outside of these panels seem to be moving to the right, this deviates within the first two panels, where the movement lines and such are all going to the left, essentially creating a new image on the surface within them. The other thing that deviates within the entirety of the surface layout is the "person" on the bottom left of the left page, whom is not just a body moving rapidly through space but is quite detailed, perhaps to clarify for the reader what the bodies actually look like/are more vividly and/or to have an emotional impact on the reader since this "person" appears to be bleeding (dark liquid coming from their skin, usually relates to blood).

     Overall, this two page spread within The Mighty Thor shows the many uses that can relate to a comic's surface and its sequence through page layout.

-Kerrisa Drouillard

Pop Art in Daredevil #1

The art style of pop art is very distinguishable in this day and age because it has been exposed to us for so long. In the newest reboot of Daredevil, the prominent pop art style gives the comic a very nostalgic feeling since pop art was a movement from the 1950's and 60's. Pop art has become a style of its own, but it can also be considered a genre. We have certain expectations of pop art because it has established itself as a specific style, and it is generally used for specific purposes--marketing and older cartoon panels at this point--and these things make up a genre.

However, don't make the mistake of thinking Daredevil has vibrant and warm colors. The comic consists of shades of red, black, and blue, and is just generally darkly colored. It flips your expectations of pop art and in doing that, the art emphasizes the dark nature of the characters, which is an important theme of the comic. 
Comic theorist Dylan Horrocks talks about the importance of genre in "Inventing Comics." He says that genre is important in giving a reader a set of expectations and resources to make sense of the work more easily, and gives an author the opportunity to go against the reader's expectations and provide a better narrative twist, or even change the genre itself. It also draws the reader in because it gives them something familiar in a work that is unfamiliar, and that can only entice them to continue reading. 
The pop art style is a very interesting choice considering it is not related to Daredevil's themes, but the fact that it is a strange choice make the comic that much more intriguing. The art style comments that the story will not be what the reader expects when their expectations of the art have already been proven wrong.

-Vanessa Huasasquiche

Lettering in Descender #1

Going by Gene Kannenburg's theory on lettering, text has three possible relationships with the entirety of the comic, which are narrative, metanarrative, and extranarrative. Two of the three can be applied to Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen's Descender.
The narrative relationship allows text be an integral part of the overall message of the comic, and it is used for dialogue, sound effects, titles, narrations,etc.

On this page, the sound effect text compliments what is being said in the caption boxes. As Tim-21 fixes the robot dog, Bandit, the sound effects compliment the change, and Bandit goes from saying "Fra!" to "ARF!" This is one example of text enhancing the narrative beyond what is said in the dialogue or narrative boxes. 

Metanarrative relationships influence the structure of text in a comic, such as the layout of text boxes, and the specific fonts chosen for specific characters or purposes. Essentially, the metanarrative tells you about the narrative without being directly involved in the words. 
In this two page spread, there is no uniform layout, and it is easy to get confused about what order to read in. That's what the text is for; as you can see, the text leads to read first left to right, then right to left because the text boxes make up a curve. Just think of it as connect the dots. You don't want to have lines running all over the place, so your eye follows the smoothest path, which is the curve of the text boxes.The text guides your eye over all the images in the two page spread, and ensures that you can make sense of the numerous, chaotic images.

The examples I have discussed are only small portions of the lettering usage in Descender, and lettering is a very well used element of the comic as a whole.

-Vanessa Huasasquiche

Balloon use in Plutona

In his article, “The Speech Balloon; or, the Problem of Representing Other Minds”, David Carrier refers to the word balloon as a “container of words we read, not an object the characters could physically touch” (36). He also says that “balloons employ both verbal and visual means to represent thought, without characterizing thought in itself” (32). In this issue, it is understood that, if there were no word balloons throughout the story, the reader could not feel the emotion they should be feeling whilst reading it. 
In the second issue of Plutona there seems to be a lot going on. Aside from what the reader is getting from the images, the words also help to intensify the scenes presented. Being able to access the thoughts of the characters, adds to the story as a whole, because it gives the reader the right frame of mind for the particular comic; in this case, that something is not right. A reader can collect this by the use of word balloons within the text.
On the first page, readers can see four speech balloons. Within them there are elements which enhance the speech for the audience. In the first balloon, Ray is questioning if the dead woman they see is “Plutara”, before he gives the name, there are two dash marks (- -) which can indicate that he is pausing. This pause can add suspense, and it can also slow down time (for the reader). This is just one of many tricks the author can incorporate in the speech bubble to enhance the narrative. 

Another element that can be added in the speech bubble is the use of bold text. On this page, the remaining three balloons all use the function of bold. Bold can indicate that there is tension or emphasis within what the character is saying. This gives more expression to the character than what their facial expressions imply. 
Another way the word balloon can aid in the progression of the story is when they appear to change shape. When the balloon changes shape, in this specific issue, it can create an alarming and chaotic moment. On page six a fight breaks out between two characters. The reader is exposed to the first change of shape in the bubble, which allows the reader to physically see the anger that is coming from Ray. The reader can tell it breaks from normal conversation, and breaks into yelling because of the shape change. This type of balloon is also seen on page seven, when Diane yells at Ray to stop the fighting. Here, the text is also emphasizing the yelling, as the bold word feature is shown again, followed by exclamation marks. 

Another function of the balloon undergoing a shape change is on the last page of the comic. Here, the shape of the balloon transforms into a bubble / cloud one can identify as a thought. The bubble is still directly coming from the character, but the little circles linking up with the bigger one show that the words are not being said. Word balloons, as described by Carrier, can be seen to be a “bridge between the image and word gap” (28). In this text, the balloons work in many different ways, as described above, in order to enhance the story told by the images. The balloons add elements that are needed in order to give the reader the full concept the author wants expressed. 

By: Emily Lukas

The Raven by Dave Morice

I found Poetry Comics by Dave Morice in the Leddy Library, and was instantly drawn to it. Apparently there is nothing more appealing to an English major than someone making a mockery of world-famous poetry and parodying it. My favourite one in the anthology was “The Raven”, because it takes Edgar Allan Poe and mixes it with superheroes. One of the most distinct things that I remember while reading this story is the different panels used and how it moves the readers’ eye across the page. The different shapes and sizes either work to slow down or speed up the reading of the panels, while managing to change how the narration and story is being told. Even things like speech bubbles are read differently depending on the size and shape of the panel, as it changes the urgency and sets the stage for what is occurring within the story.

One of the most interesting panels in the story occurs in the middle tier of this page. The panel’s outline is completely different than the rest of the stories, as it is meant to show that it is the thought of the protagonist of the story. Instead of keeping the thought bubble within one panel, it moves to the panel beside it. As a result, what the character is thinking becomes a crucial part of the story. The reader needs to fully see the tier to understand what has happens and how important the magazine and the protagonist’s thoughts about it are to the plot. Moreover, the text that the protagonist is thinking about is an intertext; it is a parody on George of the Jungle.

All of this calls into question Hatfield’s theories surrounding sequence versus purpose. Hatfield concerns himself with the visualized space and the non-visualized space on the page, and how all this lends itself to the understanding and comprehension of the story. Hatfield believes that the narrative comes from the sequence tension and how the panels relate to one another. In this particular panel, it is important to consider the rhetorical tension and the decorative tension. The rhetorical tension meaning the shape of the page (in this case, the shape of the panel and how it was a thought bubble) and how it changes to accommodate the narrative. The author of the story changed the shape of the panel to progress the story. The decorative tension becomes about the design of the page and how this works to change the narrative, even though it is independent of the narrative. “The Raven” by Dave Morice exemplifies Hatfield’s ideas about sequence verses purpose, and how panels in comics are crucial to the understanding of it.

-- Kristen Buchanan