Monday, December 7, 2015

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.

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