söndag 22 januari 2017

Understanding Comics

Last week we read Scott McCloud's 'Understanding Comics'. Though a bit confusing at times, I found this introduction to the art of the comic book largely helpful. The fact that the book itself is a comic helps to visually strengthen the topic McCloud presents.

There is a lot of subjects in this book that intrigued me and some that where completely new to how I view comics. One thing that especially caught my interest and that I have witnessed in other media as well, is the way western vs. eastern artists choose to move the story forward, mainly by way of pacing and focus.

A lot of eastern visual storytelling evolves around or is aided by establishing a "mood or a sense of place" to use McClouds own words. In comics (or rather manga) this is largely created by a heavy use of moment to moment panels as well as panels showing nothing but environmental scenes. In movies and series it's the same principal, where great time is spent showing the journey of the characters and the landscape they're traveling through, or going about chores such as cooking or cleaning.

From up on poppy hill, Studio Ghibli.

In western culture however the focus tends to lie in action based storytelling, where a lot of things happen very quickly and where the plot is driven by the characters. If scenes occur where the characters do travel, attend to chores or is having a meal the focus is still centered round the character by way of action or dialogue and is usually just a means of showing that character in a certain light.

Cartoon Network's The amazing world of Gumball.
Though I find certain enjoyment in both of these approaches, the eastern way gives me a particular sense of satisfaction. I often find my self tired after watching for example an American TV show and though momentarily amused, it often tends to leave something unfulfilled when ended. Movies like those from Studio Ghibli allows me to live within that world rather than simply being a bystander. When ended and even during parts of the movie I often find myself contemplating and just feeling what is happening within the story.

I'll admit that I have yet to read more comic books and manga to make the same comparison within those genres, so I am looking forward to see what I will learn in this class as the semester progresses.

2 kommentarer:

  1. I really enjoyed your comparison of Western cartoons to Eastern cartoons. I definitely understand the feeling of growing tired after watching an American cartoon because it doesn't feel like there is a satisfied ending; there's almost no closure. I think that's partially to keep people wanting more from the next episode, but it just feels very open ended a lot of the time. Which is fine in some cases, but many American cartoons don't follow a specific plotline like cartoons from other countries. However, I definitely believe that American cartoons are changing to be more story based and less action packed. The best example I could give is the latest season of Samurai Jack that started airing recently. As opposed to its prior seasons, it focuses on character and plot as well as action and visual gags.

  2. Hadn't looked much at the difference between how Eastern and Western storytelling mediums focus on character vs. environment, but that's really true! I'd be interested in seeing where more indie Western films fall on that range.