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15 July 2004 @ 09:23 pm
Comics on the brain  
Read a little bit more of "Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual Design". I'm going to have to read through it again and take notes, add post-its, etc. because I'm sure it'll be useful when writing that essay.

I have some issues with the existing theories:
  • problems with Scott McCloud's panel transitions - I love Understanding Comics. It's a great primer, and makes a great case for taking comics seriously as a medium. The theory of panel transitions Mr. McCloud gives in the chapter on Closure is descriptive enough to be useful. My only problem with it is that it's not flexible enough to be universally applicable. Just off of the top of my head, I can think of a few cases where it either fails to account for something or is incomplete: the parallel sequences of newsstand and pirate comic in Watchmen, the Kindly Ones switching eerily switching positions in an early issue of Sandman, and the parallel pages-within-pages in the "Two Lives" issue of The Spirit (which Eisner talks about in Comics & Sequential Art). Also, the Time chapter of UC gives an example of how a single panel that seems to portray several points in time at once would qualify as "comics" if some gutters were added—I think that kludge could be avoided if primacy was given to connections between images rather than specifically panels. Occam's razor!
  • problems with Neil Cohn's deep structure theory - Basically that it's only really interesting to people who study cognitive science. It may be possible to use it to analyse a comic, but I'm not sure what that would tell you about the comic, and I don't think it can really help in creation. Also, it tries to be really strict, but it leaves a big loophole with "transformations". After he spoke at Comic-Con, in a presentation where he asserted among other things that visual language does not allow a sequence to "split", I brought up an old Silly Cone V by scrubbo in which the comic splits into two different columns, each representing a timeline split by a choice (probably my favorite SCV, BTW). Neil's response was "oh, a transformation allows that", which (a) explains absolutely nothing, and (b) means that all of that stuff about inability to split in "deep structure" irrelevant if it can just be "transformed" to fit.
  • problems with Neil Cohn's web diagrams theory - None, actually, except that Cohn seems to have abandoned it prematurely in my view. This is what I want to expand on and unify with Kress & van Leeuwen's "grammar of visual design".
BTW, does anybody have a link to John Barber's essay? I used to have a copy, but lost it when my old computer's hard drvie crashed. damonk13?
 
 
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
Current Music: Zach de la Rocha and TOOL - Can't Kill the Revolution
 
 
 
damonkdamonk13 on July 16th, 2004 07:21 am (UTC)
Which essay of John's are you speaking of?
gwallagwalla on July 16th, 2004 07:27 pm (UTC)
He did one a while back on layout. It talked about how putting things on facing pages can create a sense of suspense, because you actually see the "later" page first, among other things. It's been a while.
(Anonymous) on July 18th, 2004 07:57 pm (UTC)
Barber's Essay
Hi Gwalla,

I just found your entry whilst perusing the net for research related to mine. You can find Barber's essay on his own site (http://www.johnbarbercomics.com). If you're looking for other research materials, my site has a Reference Bibliography (http://www.emaki.net/ref.html) listing all of these things, with links to those that are online. Once you finish your paper, I'd love to get a copy, and I'll be happy to list it on there as well.

Also, you might be happy to hear that I've been altering the deep structure theory to be more "user friendly" (so to speak) and it gravitates away from transformations. I'd be happy to share this new work with you if you'd like a draft copy. If you're going to be in San Diego, I'll be at booth S-8 (right next to the back doors leading upstairs), so please come by and we can discuss!

Best,

Neil
gwalla: magmagwalla on July 18th, 2004 11:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Barber's Essay
Hi Neil!

Thanks for the link to John's site. I feel sheepish—I should've just googled John Barber. :( Oh well. Thanks for the link to your site's bibliography, too!

I'd love to have a draft copy! I won't be at SDCC this year, though, sadly (financial difficulties). I hope to be there next year.
(Anonymous) on July 19th, 2004 02:53 am (UTC)
Re: my essay
No problem gwalla, feel free to advertise the Bibliography too. Its there to be put to use. :-)

I'd be happy to email you a pdf. of the paper, and I'll clarify some things about my general outlook when I send it. How bout you email me at the address on the bottom of any page on my website (http://www.emaki.net) and I'll send it to you on the reply. If you have any questions that I can directly address about any of the previous models, by all means include them.

Bummer you won't be able to make it to the Con! This year is the first I'll have my own booth, and I'm going to be running VL science experiments there!

Best,

Neil
gwallagwalla on July 19th, 2004 11:40 pm (UTC)
Re: my essay
Okay, I'll send you that email.

Yeah, I was all set to go to the Con (even pre-registered) but then I got laid off. That threw a big wrench in the works.