Thursday, July 18, 2019

Comics as Performance Art: The Long Weekend in Alice Springs

This summer I'm working to share resources on the internet about comics, comics theory, and comics creation.  There is so much out there from which I can learn!

Today I'm sharing perhaps one of my favorite creations, the video version of The Long Weekend in Alice Springs, by Joshua Santospirito and Craig San Roque, based on the graphic novel of the same name, which was itself based on an academic paper.

This has inspired me to think, off and on, for years about doing a project like this about Holland, Michigan. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Comics as Performance Art: Toormina Video

This summer I'm going to be linking to other terrific resources on the internet about comics, comics creation, and comics theory.  Though is so much out there that is inspirational and educational.

This week I'll be posting links to two of my favorite videos made from comics.

It's interesting to thing about comics as performance art.

First is Toormina Video, a story about the author's father.


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Diary Comic: Working on the Many Me's in Memoir

I did a diary comic to help me figure out why I occasionally get confused while organizing and drafting my memoir.
Now I get it. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Diary Comic on Comics

For fun. 
I love blowing “doubters’ “ minds with info on how cool comics is as a medium. 
The ideas are from Hilary Chute.
BAM indeed. 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

My Graphic Essay Response to a Graphic Essay by Sarah Glidden

My "Homework" on Glidden’s Essay

Having read a wonderful, thought-provoking graphic essay which Sarah Glidden wrote for HyperAllergic on Hilma af Klint, I decided to learn from her by doing a little essay of my own, mimicking her style.
I encourage you to read her essay first, so you'll see what I am responding to.
I had fun...

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Analysis of the Depiction of Memory in Batman Hush, Part Two

This is a continuation of my analysis of how memory is visually depicted in Batman Hush.  Click here to read part one.
The next example uses the present blending into memory that we saw in the Alfred page above, but introduces the extremely complex notion of memory fragmenting.  We are now, however, prepared to read it smoothly.

The green jade pendant is something the characters are encountering in the now.  But it is triggering Bruce's memory, and so we see it in color, but depicted in the looser watercolor style, as it pulls us into the monochromatic blue world of childhood. 
In addition, this page doesn't use panels in the same way as we've seen them in other memories.  In this case, it sticks with the standard nine-panel grid, even as image spill across gutter, and interlace with "snapshots" of objects in the room.  The speech balloons in the first tier help us understand how to read these as blended across the gutters.
This composition from fragments mimics the fragmentation of traumatic memory, thus preparing us for the most complex depiction of memory yet, which occurs on the very next page.

On the next page, Bruce Wayne observes Harley Quinn steal a pendant from one of his friends, a pendant that belonged to the friend's deceased mother.  And he remembers the death of his own mother.  Simple enough in words.  But the visuals rock such complexity!
I note how the nine-panel grid keeps the fragmentation introduced on the previous page, but in a much more visually complex way.   The watercolor, blue memories, are snaphots, fragments, from Bruce's memory of the murder and robbery of his mother.   Each of these gets only one short wordless panel.  Traumatic memory is preverbal, so this makes a lot of sense!  The white balls on the ends of Harley Quinn's hat meld visually into the pearls stolen from Bruce's mother (especially across the first two panels of the second tier, thus helping us understand some of the visual triggering Bruce is experiencing.  Even her speech balloons in the third panel of the second tier continue that visual string of pearls.  And then the bottom tier allows us to sink with Bruce into the full trauma, the first moment of his aloneness, the murderer gone, only the child left present with the bodies of his parents.  And the color scheme shifts to red for the first time.  Clearly, at this point it does not signal Metropolis (as we know this murder took place in Gotham) but overwhelming rage/trauma.
One final thought:  the red occurs in the memory, but not in the now of the story, because the gutters remain black.  This changes later in the book.

In a later episode, in an encounter with the Joker, Batman begins to remember all of the horror and trauma that the Joker has brought to his city and to individuals whom he (Batman) has loved.  And as he remembers, he becomes more and more enraged.  
At this point, the background color of the now of the story turns from black to red, and we see that red framing the memory sequences.  The memories themselves are pleasant and so remain in the familiar loose watercolor style framed in black.

However, as we see on a later page, when Batman's memories become horrific, they become awash in red, as with the murder memory.  These have no white in them.  
And I also see a red gutter appear, reminding us of the rage Batman hides from Oracle in the now of the story.

One last thing.  There is one (and I think only one) point in the story where Batman envisions a future scene which he fears.  It is depicted in a style and color that does not appear on any other page in the 300+ page book. 
Mostly hatched, with a little wash, it has a line quality and color reminiscent to me of a ballpoint pen.  Unlike the looseness of the watercolor used to depict memory, this uses a looseness that is like a "sketch," something that is in the making, but not come to fruition yet.  Perfect visual match, I thought, for a speculation about the future.
These sorts of interesting things happen over and over in the book.  It really was a great study for me in handling and cueing time and emotion... on top of being a fun Batman story!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Analysis of the Depiction of Memory in Batman Hush, Part One

As I work on my graphic memoir, I am always thinking about (and confounded by) ways to visually depict how memory works, weaving around in time, triggered by specific things in the now, and how one memory can trigger another.
Recently I read the Batman graphic novel Hush by Loeb, Lee, and Williamson, and I was intrigued by how they managed memory.  So I wrote it up to make notes for myself, then thought I'd share them here in case they are of interest to others!  These are only my impressions from reading the book... apologies to those who know more than I do about these artists, their work, and the post-millenial Batman world than I do!
In this first page example, I see the standard page appearance.  Black background and gutters, detailed ink, multiple colors.  Whenever we are in Gotham City, as we are here, things tend toward the blue overall.  Bruce/Batman's narration is in the blue shaded boxes.
So we have read some 50 or so pages that look like this in the clear cut now of the story.

Then the comic starts to train us how to read its greater complexity, as Tom Hart, one of my great teachers, likes to say!  On the page immediately following the above, we find ourselves in one of Bruce's memories.  The time jump is triggered by a comment made by the doctor on the bottom of the above page, and our understanding is helped by the physicality of the page turn, and the completely different visual style,
The monochromatic coloring and the loose watercolor style not only trigger a difference in time, but also mimic the vagueness of memory, which is generally less precise in our minds than the now of our lives.  The memory goes on for several pages before, on a page turn, returning to the more full-colored and detailed depictions of the now. 
We see several such memory sequences, always on a page turn, and always filling several full pages, before the comic takes its next jump in depicting the complexity of time.

In this next image, I see the jump in complexity, again, the page training us how to read it.  Rather than the page turn helping to mark the time jump, the authors rely just on the style shift.  
I like how the character and position of Alfred helps to root us in place.  I also note how this memory, unlike the earlier ones, has a white gutter, but I am not sure what it is signalling.  
Anyhow, now that we readers are trained to read time/memory jumps without the aid of a page turn, or even a full page of memory, the book can do more complex things.

The next example shows how the book expects us to read location changes and time jumps not just from the now of the story to the past, but from one point in the past to another.
So, the first two tiers above are in the now of the story, with a location change to Metropolis.  Unlike Gotham City which is always depicted in blue tones, Metropolis (home of Superman) is depicted in red tones.
In the third tier we jump in memory to something that happened just the previous evening in the story, in Gotham.  We know where we are in time because we just saw this exact image (with different narration) in a previous page.  It doesn't have the looseness of the other memory scenes because it is so recent.
Between the third and fourth tier, we jump from the memory of the previous evening to a memory from childhood.  The shift to the now familiar loose watercolor style triggers the time jump, and the shift in color scheme (along with the narrative cue) signals that this memory is not from Gotham, but from a childhood visit to Metropolis.
So we are now, in the space of one page and four panels, jumping between two places and three points in time!  HOW COOL IS THAT??
Stay tuned for the next post to read the rest of my analysis.