“All Depends On Your Frame of Mind”

Understanding Comics | Reading Response

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Whenever I think of comics I think of Sunday mornings in my house growing up — my dad would read the newspaper and would always save the comic section for me to flip through when I woke up. I was little so I never really read the dialogue but I loved trying to understand the narrative through the illustrations.

The author, Scott McCloud, talks about the connection between still imagery and narratives. Comics share many common traits with the picture books that children grow up with, a sequence of images with added text that tell a story. With both photography, comics and even other creative mediums like painting and drawing, etc. – those still images that are put together to tell a story are all captured moments in time – not continual physically moving moments like video is. With photography and comics there are moments, both seconds of time and sometimes years or decades, that could be missing in-between – leaving quite a bit of room for an audience to interpret.

“The workings of time in comics should be as simple as — one, two, three, but they’re not.”

I thought the part in Chapter 4 (page 99) when McCloud talked about the comic’s panels and frames was very related to photography. He begins to discuss how the cropping of the illustrations is extremely important to how the audience will perceive that specific moment – exactly like photography, cropping an image in a certain way can totally alter how someone views the image. Even though you are technically not changing that moment, you are altering the perception. I also thought the comic technique to show a pause by repeating the same image (page 101) was also really interesting. I don’t think thats something you often see in photography exhibitions or in narratives because I don’t think a photograph would translate quite the same way as the comic does in this specific situation.

McCloud also mentioned spacing and placement with comics which made me think of gallery space and photo books and how layout and placement changes how an audience reads the narrative. With art in general, it is not always reading left to right. The photographer or artist has the power to control the viewer’s eye.

I really enjoyed McCloud’s reading, even though the correlation between the still imagery of photography and comics seems obvious, there were differences and similarities that he pointed out that I never thought much into. His perspective was very interesting.

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