Saturday, December 5, 2015

Narration vs. Monstration and Closure in "Pink Frosting"

“Pink Frosting” by Adrian Tomine, first appearing in Optic Nerve no. 2 in 1995 and later being published in Sleepwalk and Other Stories in 1997 is a comic featured in Drawn and Quarterly that directly plays with Jan Baeten’s idea of narration vs. monstration, also relating to Scott McCloud’s idea of “closure.” These two theories often go hand-in-hand when examining a comic and how the plot is represented through both words and images.

            In “Pink Frosting,” the plot relies quite heavily on the narration of the main character, which is represented by a caption box in each panel. Throughout the comic, this narration is accompanied by images below each caption box, of which the events taking place in each image appear to coincide with the narrations in each caption box, but don’t quite entirely depict each action described. For example, in the third panel on the first page, the narrator describes how the cake box he was carrying moments before opens mid-air, resulting in the cake landing on the dirty sidewalk, however, the cake landing is not represented within the image below or the image in the next panel. Instead, the next panel features an image of the car that caused the incident. This technique used by the author relates to the ideas of narration vs. monstration and McCloud’s idea of closure because the events taking place in this comic are not direst represented within both the text and the image, causing the reader to imagine the actions taking place between each panel. Based on McCloud’s theory of closure, the cake falling onto the sidewalk is an action that takes place within the gutter between the two panels, however, the reader may create this image in their mind before moving on to the next panel as the occurrence is first presented within the caption box of the third panel. Through the use of this technique several times throughout the comic, “Pink Frosting” becomes a perfect example of how narration and monstration work together to allow readers to build the story further within their minds without the author being required to represent each individual action through both words and images in the comic.

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