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Graphic Forms

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Jennifer Neale

on 5 June 2014

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Transcript of Graphic Forms

Controlling the reader experience
World building
Character Development
Visual effects

the order in which panels are meant to be read
The goal is
In English-language comics, we read panels
left to right
top to bottom
Other methods:
breaking the fourth wall
panel spacing
directed action
The direction your characters are moving influences the way your reader's eye moves along the page.
Variable panel size
Panels or frames "act as a sort of general indicator that space and time is being divided."
-Scott McCloud
Zoom in; Zoom out
Zooming in on a character or item usually has the effect of quickening the pace.
Zooming out tends to slow the pace.
Type of panel transition
Detailed drawings
The more detailed the drawing in a panel is, the more likely a reader is to spend time on it.
A note on beats
You should (almost always) leave spacing between panels (called the gutter). Without these, your page can be cluttered and confusing.

There are rare exceptions, but you need a good reason!
A note on panel spacing:
A beat is the smallest unit of storytelling. It is, simply, something happening in the story (a thought, action, moment, etc).

If possible, each page of your comic should represent a beat (or two, or three). Try not to end your page in the middle of an important moment.
Other ways to influence pace:
Motion lines
Different angles
A lack of panel borders
World-building in comics is the creation of a setting, but more than that, it can also be the creation of mood.

Creating a full world will give your comic context and added depth.
The world-building strategy you use will depend greatly on the genre of comic you are trying to write.
memoir, literary fiction, personal essay, science fiction, fantasy, manga, epic, mystery, comedy
For comics set in the real world, you should appeal to the reader's five senses, presenting images that readers can imagine seeing, touching, smelling, tasting or hearing. You are familiarizing the reader with the feeling of your setting.
social structure
flora and fauna
weather systems
and so on!
For comics set in another world (an alternative dimension, another planet, a fantasy realm, the far future, etc), world-builders have a larger job to do. They may need to consider the world's:
legal system
Establishing shots
Usually a large or long panel at the beginning of the comic or of a new scene
Shows the setting in greater detail than other panels
Are generally shown from a distance
Usually have no speech bubbles
Do not focus directly on a character (if characters are present, they are usually facing away, or "leading" the reader into the panel)
Well-created establishing shots:
give your reader a strong sense of place
introduce the state of your characters' lives
appeal to the five senses
invite your reader into the world
create mood
save you from drawing detailed panels later!
Some techniques to create mood:
line thickness
colour choices
action words/sound effect words
word choices
Creating comic characters is a similar process to creating characters for fiction or creative non-fiction.
The model sheet
Facial expressions
Because a lot of the story information in comics is conveyed through dialogue and narration (speech bubbles and captions), it's important to understand how your characters speak.
What vocabulary does your character use?
Do they use long or short sentences?
Do they have any verbal ticks?
Do they have a regional dialect?
Visual metaphor
The character's world
Graphic forms
Graphic novels
What's the difference?
What is a comic?

A comic is a

told using

“That pompous phrase (graphic novel) was thought up by some idiot in the marketing department of DC. I prefer to call them Big Expensive Comics."
-Alan Moore
'Silent Comics' by Ileana Surducan
What are the parts of a comic?
Sunday comic strip
(the border around a panel)
(the space between panels
Other terms:
when the artwork or colour runs to the edge of the page
images used to represent ideas or actions (e.g. a lightbulb over a character's head showing they have an idea, squiggly lines coming from a cup of coffee to show that it's hot)
Sound effects:

sounds represented as words in panels ("BAM!", "CRASH!", etc, etc)
speech balloon
narrative box
motion lines
The Lexicon of Comicana
by Mort Walker
What can you do with a comic anyway?
Pretty much anything
Literary fiction
Graphic poetry
Young adult
Graphic journalism
Personal essay
Magical realism
And so on...
How do you make a comic?
Roughs > Pencils > Inks > Colours
Comic script
(leave the drawing to the pros)
What choices do you need to make?
Scott McCloud suggests that comic writers need to consider choice of:
Panel transitions
(from Scott McCloud, again)
Moment to Moment
Action to Action
Subject to Subject
Scene to Scene
Non Sequitur
"The Road to Success", The Etude (1913)
Aspect to Aspect
Full transcript