Are comics micromanaging imagination?

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Post by jshamblin » Sat Oct 27, 2007 2:18 pm

neil wrote: By asking if a panel-by-panel representation of a story is necessarily "micromanaging" that story (i.e. exercising too much control over it, to its detriment), you're implying that an argument could me made that it is, and I was just wondering what that argument would be...
Sorry, I forgot all about this thread. I think you're right, I should have chosen my words more wisely. I initially wanted a discussion about a storyteller's influence over the imagination of their readership, and not an argument. I don't have a strong enough opinion on the subject, nor the necessary materials to support an argument either way.
neil wrote: Yeah I think about this, sort of--I guess my perspective is that the creator should use both the literary and visual elements of comics as efficiently and as generously as possible, and that should mean preventing these elements from becoming redundant to each other. If you keep a lively interdependence going on between them, and make great choices as to which moments in the story you're showing, I think it results in a more active reading experience that actually stirs the imagination. (To master this is another story, of course.) If you abide by that, I don't think you're ever preempting imagination by feeding the reader more information (either visually or through the text), as long as the information is relevant to the story. There's still a universe of possibility between the panels, and between your cartoons and real life, and between the things that can happen, and what does happen in your comics. I enjoy seeing an author/artist whittling away at these universes of possibility by making choices (as we also do by defending an argument, hehe), and I'm excited when I see really interesting choices.

Am I totally rambling now? 8)
Thanks for sharing that. I don't think you were rambling at all. I found it very insightful. I know you put a lot of thought and care into your comics, just by the stories you tell. I'm curious, do you have any solo projects underway?

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Post by Prankster » Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:06 am

Comics, like film, portray something visually specific, so in that sense they're "micromanaging imagination", yes. Obviously novels and other print forms require you to imagine the appearance of the characters and settings, and comics generally don't...though there are slight exceptions: for instance, an extremely abstract drawing style could lead the audience to extrapolate what a character would look like in real life, as in Sin City for example. You're technically "spoon-fed" an image, but it's quite different from reality, so in that regard there's a leap of imagination required. In general, however, yes, you are being given something to look at and identify with the story.

But that's only one aspect of imagination. You still need the imagination to bring the images to life, as has been mentioned, and to create a character's "performance" from a series of still images. In comics, the audience is the actor--they're given a physical form for the character, but the subtleties of how he or she moves, talks, fidgets, and expresses emotion are in the audience's hands.

Which brings us to the other major act of imagination: the other four senses, particularly sound. That's a bigger deal than you might imagine, especially when comics start playing around with lettering and sound effects. "Pogo" was the king of this, using lettering in elaborate ways to suggest character but which could never sync up with "reality", like the character "P.T. Bridgeport", a flamboyant salesman who talked in Circus posters:


The key to encouraging the imagination in comics rather than micromanaging it is to think abstract, to move away from reality.
Check out my comics and stuff at Phantasmic Tales.

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Post by Blom » Mon Nov 05, 2007 8:33 am

Norwegian film industry thinks like this:
If you start with 1000 ideas, then you make 100 ideas into a script like form, from that they use 10 and make finished scripts and out of that 1 gets to be a feature film.

Say that 2 or 3 of the 10 finished scripts is GREAT, but not great enough to make a feature film, then they maybe GREAT for making a comic.

IS that micromanaging imagination?
Tor Harald Blom

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