Thursday, August 24, 2006

comics 2 - form // story

aah. this is one of my top favorite concepts. i kid you not, i am actually excited to write this. (check here for the first ridiculously nerdy post.)

when form parallels the story

okay, so i absolutely love when the form or structure of a story parallels, or accentuates, the story itself - i think it's a smart, slick move on the writer's part, and tough to pull off, but ever so satisfying when done correctly. i'll give you an example - the movie memento, or adaptation. the way these stories are told are, in a sense, imperative to get the greatest impact of the story, imperative to understanding what the story itself is all about. ever read nabokov's pale fire? (ohmygod, or mark danielewski's house of leaves?!?!! purchase it. immediately. it is a suspense film AND an indie drug film, somehow disguised as a postmodern book. i am still not sure how it is quite able to do that.)

it's all about how the storytellers really f-ing USE their medium, and push the boundaries of what they are trying to do in order to tell a .better. story. okay, these are obvious, glaring examples; but this is also something that i love when used subtlely...a good example of this is in an author's rhythm. have you ever noticed how a writer can "stop" a reader - just by changing his sentence structure? like, in the middle of a story, all of a sudden there is one line: "The phone rang." and, it's the shortest sentence in the entire book so far, and you get there, and its simplicity just makes you stop. when i read this (nabokov short story), i was just like, this is brilliant! because the characters in the story had also just stopped from the startling ring as well - and here we were, the characters in the story and me, just holding our breadth for one split second, because nabokov TOLD us to. this is why dan brown can essentially write a page-turner/movie book, but his prose is god-awful -- he has no sense of how to use the medium, and really affect his readers with his words.

all right, so what does this have to do with comic books, yeah? i think that graphic art is (*sigh* or WAS, even just a couple of years ago. maybe not anymore) very much a medium that does not know its place, and thus isn't restricted by it. the whole concept of a "panel" IS this idea of making your form tell your story. the very fact that an artist looks at a blank page, sections it off however he chooses, and then translates that stillness and those restrictions (sections) into movement is awesome. it's the parallel to peter parker keeping his hero identity quarantined from his "real" life (and loves) and being unable to do so . . . or to professor x trying to tear down the hatred that divides mutants but finding that dividing lines happen no matter what one does. it's many, many individual stories and lives (be it individual characters, or even individual issues) being stitched and patchworked together into a whole. and there you go.

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