Sunday, December 6, 2015

Caption Boxes in Captain America White #2

As soon as I saw the last page in Captain America White #2, I knew that this was the panel I wanted to talk about for the blog post. A) Because it is an epic picture, and there’s a whole lot of comic theory that can be applied to it, and B) it has a pun. Basically, what I learned from reading Captain America was that Bucky and I are the same person (we are already half way there too, we share a last name and everything). But, what I learned from Comic’s Theory actually helped me better understand the comic (something, by the way, I am not just saying because my professor is reading this).

The first thing that jumped out at me was not the ginormous tank, but the caption boxes. Maybe it’s the English major in me, but I noticed the words right away, and my eyes tend to fall toward the narrative parts of comics first. This panel demonstrates Baeten’s idea of narration versus monstration, which is essentially what is said versus what is shown in the diegetic world. There is a tension that gets created because of the different stories being told. The narration bubbles are different from what Captain America is saying in the present action because he is recalling it as a memory. However, it is interesting to note that the narration in this comic is not directly talking to the reader but instead is Captain America addressing Bucky and telling him a story instead of him telling the audience a story. Moreover, the very apparent lack of urgency in the tone of the narration doesn’t clue the reader into what is happening. If you just read the words and ignored the monstration, you probably wouldn’t realize Captain America is looking down the barrel (do barrels exist on tanks? My war lingo isn’t up to par) of a tank. Not just any tank, a Nazi tank. The narration and monstration work in harmony to show what’s happening, and without either, the story would not be as impactful. It’s also helpful to think of Carrier’s thoughts about word balloons and how the shape of them conveys meaning. Without shaping Captain’s “Hold Up” in a speech bubble we wouldn’t know that he’s saying it out loud and not just stopping his narration. Likewise, the narration boxes stand out differently so the reader knows to read them with a different mindset. Interesting to note is that the narration boxes are in the same colour scheme as Captain America’s present day panels.

-- Kristen Buchanan

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