Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Text in The New Frontier

A normalized convention of comics, narration, thought bubbles, speech balloons, and any other text that exists outside the narrative world in a comic works in tandem with the images. The words then inform images, as most comics possess a heavy amount of dialogue. Text and narration is particularly useful in creating meaning between images (ie: jumping from scenes or through time).

For a large scale story covering more than one superhero as well as multiple years, narration is featured heavily in Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier. With such a large cast to share so many pages, there requires some cutting and seamless transitioning to perfectly cover individual character stories several times over while simultaneously moving the plot forward, the art jumping from scene to scene while the narration is presented in multiple different ways to link the images and fast forward through story events.

In one instance, the narration is enclosed in a file shaped narration box to serve as a “report” in the diegetic world, while informing the reader in the extradiegetic.

Similarly, a news article written by a character who appears in the story exists as physical pages within the comic, but is presented as an article within the universe of it as well, retelling information previously stated from another perspective while informing the reader of political movements and other issues within the story that had previously come to pass, as the story starts almost in the thick of events.

As a piece set in the 1940s-1950s with the style of heavy narration like a 1940s-1950s comic, Cooke makes use of various conventions to make the large amount of text more interesting. Lots of text can be daunting, boring, or might cause the reader to lose interest, but it manages to become something else as Cooke turns it into something else with a bit of a kick.

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