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These include stories that satisfy curiosity about little known areas of life. For the storyteller this is a matter of control. The devices used in the telling bind the reader to the storytelling. There are a few fundamental themes of which there are hundreds of permuta- tions which can be called universal.
Retention is achieved by the logical and intelligible arrangement of the images. Attention is accomplished by provocative and attractive imagery.
But unless the reader is disciplined does not skip ahead. In the graphic language. This is reasonably easy to do because the audience is a spectator that can see only the events shown exactly in the order in which they are displayed. Sometimes a comics storyteller may try to use the turning of a page to achieve a surprise.
In film it is achieved by a sudden and unex- pected happening or appearance. Of course. It is left to the characters to act it out. In this case. The story. While the contrivance is choreographed. Without those reactions. In depicting a silent sequence of interaction. The dialogue. Where dialogue is not furnished.
Used often in films. In cases like this. Here is an exchange timed in seconds. When there is an exchange of dialogue. But in any event.
We have no real evidence that they are read simultane- ously. There is a different cognitive process between reading words and pictures. There is a demand on the reader to maintain a sense of time.
All this takes place in a matter of seconds. The other actor assumes a posture before respond- ing. The logic of this is that a protracted exchange of dialogue cannot be realistically supported by unmoving static images.
There is a saving of space but it is at the expense of credibility. Here is what happens when the comics storyteller allows an exchange of dia- logue to emanate from the same image. There is an almost geometric relationship between the duration of dialogue and the endurance of the posture from which it emanates. If there is an applicable formula. In this exchange. An actor gets into position and speaks his line. To a certain extent.
In the following sequence. This is essential to the credibility of the imagery. The style of lettering and the emulation of accents are the clues enabling the reader to read it with the emotional nuances the com- ics storyteller intended.
There are commonly accepted lettering characteristics which imply sound level and emo- tion. Readers are exposed to other mediums. There is no way of measuring it. While readers may adjust their expectations to the discipline and conventions of comics.. Internet provide the storyteller with more flexibility in the control of the reader.
The reader is in total control of the acquisition. This brings into play physical factors—i. These singularities. Film employs photography and a sophisticated technology to transmit realistic images. Film ending. Film requires nothing more than spectator attention.
A film watcher is imprisoned until the film ends while the comics reader is free to roam. Comics must allude to all of this from a platform of static panels. Film buttresses these with sound and the illusion of real motion. Unless comics readers can recognize the imagery or supply the necessary events that the arrangement of images imply. The comics maker is obliged. Both deal in words and images. Film purports to provide a real experience.
But each has a different engagement with its audience. Both are storytellers working through their mediums to make contact with an audience. The influence of this on attention span and retention can- not be dismissed. Because film experience despite the fact that it is contrived tends to be retained. There is an opportunity for reader contact here. The comics maker working in modern times must deal with a reader whose life experience includes a substantial amount of exposure to film.
In this device. Comics makers frequently are unsuccessful in emulating this because they underestimate the amount of space this requires in print. It is therefore inescapable that the elements of storytelling—rhythm. The comics storyteller is not working with real time or motion. The use of costumed heroes.
The comics storyteller is free to invent and distort reality by using caricatures and devised machinery which. The same event can be told more frugally. Japanese and a host of other artists and writers create comics to satisfy their own read- ers with stories. This has an influence on storytelling in comics. After World War II. American films. Comic books were soon published in individual countries for indigenous populations. Comics benefited and rode on their acceptance.
There is a strong national influence on any comics storyteller which makes it difficult to produce images with a deliberate international intent. The following are some popular story premises: This is the basis of the contract with the reader.
The following is the opening chapter from Signal from Space a. They touch on fundamental human concerns—fear and curiosity. It also offers the oppor- tunity to fashion imagery that does not have to answer to a reality test. In these the need to learn about how one might deal with a threat is satisfied by the manner in which the protagonist solves the problem. While a major element of storytelling draws on experience and reality.
For the comics storyteller. Here are three viable premises for a story. To do this. In comics particularly. In telling such a story in a graphic medium. Stories built around a protagonist often depend on a prologue to quickly introduce him. In the following novella.
Such a story situation is common to superhero stories. Action is the plot. In such a story. Action serves the story- teller well because superheroes are one-dimensional. In this kind of story. The movie audience develops a kind of cinematic literacy over time and will.
The comics storyteller can therefore resort to the novelty of movie-style graphics. By employing the images in a special effects style with striking camera angles the storyteller can achieve excitement within a banal plot.
He is established as a powerful but vulnerable fighter. In the following example. The adventure into which he is thrown capitalizes on his vulnerability. The reader is led up a path which veers away suddenly. This is done by adding background before and after the point. In telling a joke. The telling of a years after the date he was employed to execute joke with graphics requires that the storyteller it. His victim maintain absolute control of the imagery.
An incongruous outcome of an act or speech. In this type of story. Text alone is not enough to sustain the former hit man attempts to fulfilla contract fifty ambiance of the graphic narrative.
While the point can be told in one or two written lines. The joke is in the irony of the in art and to depend on stereotypes and easily surprising pity he feels for the hit man.
It is the unforeseen and unexpected which evokes the pleasure of relief or amusement that results in laughter. A involved. In doing so. It survives unaware that he was about to be assas- becomes neces- sary.
They combine and emerge as a seamless whole. The ideal writing process occurs where the writer and artist are the same person. It produces a product that more closely reflects the intent of the writer.
The pro- cess of writing for graphic narration concerns itself with the development of the concept. The dialogue supports the imagery—both are in service to the story.
There is a distinct difference between writing for a book of text and a graphic novel. Writing that is translated into graphic dramatization. In theater or film. The writer supplies the rather designed to give the artist guidance. The idea is the dominant element.
His dialogue in balloons is addressed to the reader. For one thing. Type does not translate. This man has killed.
He limps a bit an old war wound and favors the leg. He is seething with rage at the humiliation of being called in so late to the case. His craggy face is a tale of years of struggle.
His eyes are cold blue steel and with a swift jun- gle animal scan. Show middle distance shot slightly from above with Commissioner and other offi- cers standing awkwardly against the office wall. He masks his anger but not his twitching jaw muscles. If you expect me to tidy up a mess.
It is. What is the writer asking for? The artist is faced with a translation dilemma. Comics is a medium confined to still images. As this example demonstrates. Another accommodation is to insert a narrative panel that shows the subtle sub-surface characteristics.
All of this depends on space. Writers must also factor into their expectations the skills of the art- ist. The writer must know that to show a. You stay in the alley behind you devote to this? The Delta was still. It was Vietnam again. He was won- dering whether the beating of his heart could be heard as he waited behind the boxes of caliber rounds.
He would wait there until the killers brought their prisoner into a space lit by an anemic watt bulb at the end of the room. Ah yes. He peered around thein support story of the How text. IS keep the For the story flow storyteller to translate this narrative to alive?
In such a Imagine for this purpose you are the artist and you must translate this passage into a graphic narrative: How many panels would you devote to paragraph one? In writing for graphic storytelling, the ultimate judgment of the narrative is made after the work is translated into art.
The writer, therefore, must be aware of the obstacles on the way to publication. When text alone is the vehicle in conveying a story to the reader, there is little chance of a misperception. But from text to visual, there is a high probability of a difference in outcome, stemming from lack of skill to lack of time. In this medium, storytelling is not always a straight line from the mind to the reader.
Here is what often happens. In the comics medium, the continuing adventure narrative first appeared in the daily newspaper strips. This was feasible because until the s, newspapers dominated popular reading and were a regular uninterrupted family compan- ion.
In those years, there was fierce competition on the newsstands and comics, particularly continuity strips, held the loyalty of readers. This required storytell- ing skills. In , Milton Caniff in those days most cartoonists wrote and drew their own strips began Terry and the Pirates. This strip went beyond the daily joke for- mat and purported to be a never-ending story. Caniff not only brought sophisticated art to the medium but The his storytelling, introductory albeit strip parsed for Terry out and the daily in Pirates segments, was so sturdy that it was usable laid out the cast of char- acters and set the material for the aborning comic books.
In later sequences , Caniff demonstrates his Art In his book, The brilliant of the control of R. Funnies, storytelling. As a storyteller he enhanced the traditional formula by incorporating character devel- opment into action-packed plots. He demonstrates here a well-controlled flow of story that sustains its connection between strips.
His plots are played out with panels that are mostly standard so that they do not intr ude graphically. By This enhances the flow of the narrative and forces concentration on the actors. In a daily continuity. In comic books.
A book is free-standing. There is a major structural difference between newspaper storytelling strips and comic books. The following is an example of this: The visual here is designed to evoke a setting.
The major theme or plot must be preserved. In this. Ernest Hemingway narrated the shortest short story as follows: They co-opt the reader and immerse him or her in a sea of memory and experience. With the Krazy Kat Sunday comics page. George Herriman. The success of such a shortening lies in the preservation of the essence.
It is peopled with characters drawn from legend and the books of Sir Walter Scott. Harold however. Foster maintained the partnership of text narrative domi- nance of the art by illustrating the and image whole principle of the action. Throughout his stories. Prince Valiant the text example unmolested. In the literary world. It did. Prince Valiant is the story of a young knight in the days of King Arthur. ONE this in reverence.
The high degree of accuracy and groping detail should toward a not be regarded as sequential purely format it tois a major ingredient in decorative. Its brevity early allowed episode him to employ art that told a great deal of story. The Inferno is bril- liantly boiled down to its essence while the structure and intrinsic character of Bazooka Joe is also retained! The Inferno one of the three canticles that make up The Divine Comedy.
But early efforts in graphic narrative literature approached this form with an almost total elimina- tion of words. The story here was more sophisticated and the graphic narrative more complex. This appeared in the United States about In Belgium. Frans Masereel. It consisted of sixty- three plates. He stands out as perhaps the most provocative graphic storyteller in the twentieth century. A forerunner of the modern graphic novel is found in the work of Lynd Ward.
Ward was a successful book illustrator famous. The success of this mix of medium quickly succeeded and the totally graphic technique quickly gave way to the familiar graphic novel. A study of the graphic novel form will reveal that a major burden of narration is assigned to the artwork. But with the proliferation of the comic book. Without a word of text he succeeds in telling a complete. In he published Vertigo.
Printed on only one side of the leaf. The story requires the reader to contribute dialogue and the intervening flow of action between pages. While this permutation succeeded in demonstrating the viability of graphic storytelling. Vertigo was published by a mainstream publisher. Ward kept the narrative focused by titling each chapter with a date.
Ward was obviously not interested in accommodating the great depen- dence graphic. What is even more significant is that in over three hundred pages. It is inter- esting to note that this occurred about the time the first comic books appeared on newsstands.
He used the entire page as a panel. Some enjoyed the magnificent effects of his woodcuts. Many readers found this book dif- ficult to read. But in the main. This gave the reader time to dwell on each image and gave the storyteller total reader engagement. Vertigo was printed as a conventional book and sold in book stores.
The amount of action that transpires between these scenes takes considerable input from the reader to comprehend. For the practitioner writer or artist. Vertigo can serve as a skeleton upon which to experiment with a story that has tighter graphic sequencing. The ratio of its importance to other elements is arguable, but it is an inescapable ingredient. The reality is that artistic style tells story. Remember, this is a graphic medium and the reader absorbs mood and other abstracts through the artwork.
Style of art not only connects the reader with the artist but it sets ambiance and has language value. Do not confuse technique with style. Certain graphic stories are best told with a style appropriate to the content, and they often succeed or fail on that account.
This is usually more of a problem for the artist than the writer, since it requires an artist to adopt a style appropriate to the story. There are some artists who can emulate almost any style, but this requires the discipline of a forger. Many contemporary artists engaged in graphic storytelling have an inherent artistic style compatible to content.
Some are capa- ble of. Moebius Jean Giraud. Art Spiegelman worked in a style that. In Maus. The overall look appropriately conveyed the impression that the artwork was created and smuggled out of a concentration camp. This is graphic storytelling. In his illustrations for Introduction to Kafka.
The reader laughs even before ingesting the story. In this segment of daily strips Capp keeps the high- voltage story going. Contriving the postures and gestures of violence. The conflict. This imposes on the storyteller certain choices. A comic is essentially visual. Sentiment is defined as an attitude resulting from feelings associated with emotion.
Stories have influence. Schmaltz stems from a Yiddish word for oily or fat and is associated in storytelling with exploitive emotionalism and excessive pathos.
What effect will the story have? Does the storyteller want to be identified with it? What are the limits of moral standards to which he will adhere?
Violence portrays the act of physical struggle. The artwork. This encourages the creators to concentrate on form rather than content. The market. The graphic story- teller interested in the retention of readership will keep graphics in service to the story.
An ever- advancing technology affects the communication environment. This is not lost on the retailer and distributor. The graphic storyteller. The vehicles used have always been and still are in ceaseless evolution. Over time. How has changing technology affected underlying graphic storytelling skills? What has been the role of the image in human communication? How have the Internet and digital technology altered the audience? I propose.
How many of the classic vehicles of communication have disappeared as a result of advances in delivery? A capsule history of transmitting graphics demonstrates the validity of this concern. These questions do not have simple answers.
Digital technology has begun to compete with print. The vertical proportions of the traditionally printed comic book differ from the generally horizontal dimensions of a computer monitor. Sequential art should follow this discipline.
With the advent of the personal computer and the growing culture of the Internet. Comics is a medium that is especially linked to its method of publication.
As the ever-evolving vehicles of modern communication respond to social needs by accelerating the speed of delivery and the quality of imagery. If a single page is required to fit onto the. Online graphic storytelling or Webcomics have grown in importance on the Internet. The essentials of storytelling. The reading convention of comics is similar in both print and digital formats. This decision affects clarity of artwork.
Some storytellers forego the print medium completely. This format offers a wide range of image deployment and panel layout. The production of Webcomics takes a certain amount of technical knowledge concerning computers. Other tools such as drawing tablets and flatbed scanners are also used. Pioneers of online visual narrative have shown the creative potential of the Web.
While creators can do all of this themselves. Artwork can be prepared for the Web in several ways: All graphic files prepared for the Web should be 72 dots per inch dpi. These programs can save your final files at 72 dpi in a variety of formats for viewing on the Web. This saves the art at high contrast. This retains all graytone or color information.
Microsoft Internet Explorer. Most coloring and adjustment of artwork is done using software programs like Photoshop or Fireworks. These final graphics files. Bitmap format. For graytone or colored art. He believes that myths are a nuclei out of which stories are fashioned. It would not be too much to say that myth is the secret opening through which the inexhaustible energy of the cosmos pour into human cultural manifestation.
The following thinkers have contributed a body of useful reference to the art of graphic storytelling. An underlying understand- ing of the philosophical terrain into which one ventures is useful when telling stories.
Joseph Campbell comments on the nature and the story function of myths. It is the business of mythology … and of the fairy tale to reveal the specific dangers … of the dark interior way from. In this way. This person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. Abrahams reminds us that Africa has had a long history of storytelling with imagery.
Stories operate like proverbs. This is related to graphics because sculptures. The author. He believes. Such stories serve as an indirect and impersonal means of engaging in deep discussion. Weather unreliability and scarcity of natural resources lead to hunger and disease so story- telling often reflects the importance of potency as a factor in the proliferation and survival of families.
Social bonds are strained or broken by stealing of food or neglect of children in times of crisis. African art is a very. As a result. They are concerned with domestication of crops and cattle. Sculpture was an additional language through which he expressed his inner life and communicated with the invisible world. Ladislas Segy points out a relationship between art and story in primitive societies.
Unlike the use of imagery in print. Because of the function of sculpture—particularly in masks used in a mime or dance—it related to known stories. In African Sculpture Speaks. When art is employed as a language. Gombrich discusses some of the psychological considerations in the evaluation of artwork. The art produced was more emotional in content than intellectual but was quite util- itarian. In Art and Illusion. Joseph Campbell. New York: For the practi- tioner.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Roger D. Augusta Baker and Ellin Greene. African Folk Tales. Storytelling as it is practiced in the United States. Pantheon Press. The art of storytelling. Mark B. African Sculpture Speaks. Narrative and Storytelling: Implications for Understanding Moral Development. Michael Roemer. Tappan and Martin J.
San Francisco: Princeton University Press. Telling Stories. Ladislas Segy. Understanding Comics. Art and Illusion. Norma J. Libraries Unlimited. Narrative technique in storytelling. White River Junction. The National Association of Comics Art Educators keeps an up-to-date list of schools and resources on its Web site at www.
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