Monday, December 7, 2015

The Raven by Dave Morice

I found Poetry Comics by Dave Morice in the Leddy Library, and was instantly drawn to it. Apparently there is nothing more appealing to an English major than someone making a mockery of world-famous poetry and parodying it. My favourite one in the anthology was “The Raven”, because it takes Edgar Allan Poe and mixes it with superheroes. One of the most distinct things that I remember while reading this story is the different panels used and how it moves the readers’ eye across the page. The different shapes and sizes either work to slow down or speed up the reading of the panels, while managing to change how the narration and story is being told. Even things like speech bubbles are read differently depending on the size and shape of the panel, as it changes the urgency and sets the stage for what is occurring within the story.

One of the most interesting panels in the story occurs in the middle tier of this page. The panel’s outline is completely different than the rest of the stories, as it is meant to show that it is the thought of the protagonist of the story. Instead of keeping the thought bubble within one panel, it moves to the panel beside it. As a result, what the character is thinking becomes a crucial part of the story. The reader needs to fully see the tier to understand what has happens and how important the magazine and the protagonist’s thoughts about it are to the plot. Moreover, the text that the protagonist is thinking about is an intertext; it is a parody on George of the Jungle.

All of this calls into question Hatfield’s theories surrounding sequence versus purpose. Hatfield concerns himself with the visualized space and the non-visualized space on the page, and how all this lends itself to the understanding and comprehension of the story. Hatfield believes that the narrative comes from the sequence tension and how the panels relate to one another. In this particular panel, it is important to consider the rhetorical tension and the decorative tension. The rhetorical tension meaning the shape of the page (in this case, the shape of the panel and how it was a thought bubble) and how it changes to accommodate the narrative. The author of the story changed the shape of the panel to progress the story. The decorative tension becomes about the design of the page and how this works to change the narrative, even though it is independent of the narrative. “The Raven” by Dave Morice exemplifies Hatfield’s ideas about sequence verses purpose, and how panels in comics are crucial to the understanding of it.

-- Kristen Buchanan

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