Sunday, December 6, 2015

Controlling the Gaze in Grayson 12

WARNING: The following post contains spoilers for Grayson 12.

The twelfth issue of Grayson depicts Dick Grayson’s arrival back to Gotham City after following Bruce Wayne’s orders to fake his death in order to pursue an organization by the name of Spyral under a guise. However upon his arrival home, the rest of the Bat-family is less than pleased with his tactics; the issue takes careful time to illustrate each reaction. The narrative timing slows down for each of these pages, and uses Jesse Cohn’s idea of controlling the audience’s gaze.
Cohn states that many comic authors exercise a tight control over the reader’s eyes, a control maximized by the layout of the page from a visual organization standpoint.  The eyes are made to travel throughout the page. However, in the case of Grayson 12, the creators chose to guide the eye freely. While this freedom of movement can disrupt the experience of narrative continuity, most artists deploy other means to regulate the "reading path" taken, mainly by creating areas that are more prominent, which command attention.
This page illustrates Cohn’s point. While the position of the speech bubbles allows the reader to move freely throughout the page, there is still a focal point as to what should grab the reader’s attention first, which is Jason Todd’s speech bubble outlined in red and the characters—Dick Grayson especially considering he’s the largest on the page.

The bubbles surrounding the three characters on this page, while there is no technical ‘right way’ to read them, still guides the reader’s eye to ensure they don’t miss any detail on the page. Readers notice the details of each character’s face, their body language, what clothes they’re wearing and how it fits them, etc.

The comic continues to adopt this form through Dick Grayson’s interaction with each member of the Bat-family, and it’s effective due to the fact that it guides not only the eye but the time spent on the narrative aspects of each page. The reader follows the speech bubbles through the page and takes the time to read the speech of the past and really dwell on the pair of characters matched up in the situation, giving more meaning to the page as it becomes heavier and heavier with the knowledge of the past.

This is especially true when it comes to the interaction with Barbara Gordon. While the casual reader may not be aware of the deep rooted history between the two characters, the comic does an excellent job of highlighting that fact. The caption boxes here guide the eye throughout the page, each of the symbolic interactions between the characters with a focal point on the two in present day at the centre of the page.
This is an effective way not only to reach out the unaware audience as to the past that Grayson has with all the supporting characters in his comic, but also guide the timing of the narrative and the eye through all the pages of the comic.

Written by; Alyssa Litynesky 

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