Monday, October 27, 2008

About Comics, part 1

I started reading Penny Arcade, an online comic, which is a comedy about two room mates named Gabe and Tycho who touch on all sorts of video games and technology. In the latest strip, the two discuss the discrepancies between the games Guitar Hero and Rock Band - - Gabe arguing that Rock Band is better because the player has the option of playing the song "Jessie's Girl", while Tycho admits that he doesn't care either way because he does not even like the song. The last panel shows a jury acquitting Gabe of murder, adding that Tycho "had it coming" because of his dislike of the song.

After reading through a few of their comics and getting a feel for their writing and art, I have to say they (the creators of the comic) have an excellent sense of pacing. The comic is usually done in three to four panels, so pacing and using the "gutter" is essential to telling the story. According to McCloud, the spaces between the panels tells a story, linking the images and text in the panel together in the reader's mind. For example, in the comic discussed above, the readers at first sees Gabe and Tycho talking about a game. The last panel shows the jury acquitting Gabe of murder, and the reader must make the connection in his or her mind the passing of time and the series of events that led up to the last panel. A regular reader of Penny Arcade would, after reading for a while, understand the sense of humor that comic strip offers, and could probably fill in that time jump between panels with a sense of humor appropriate to the strip, thus injecting and imaginative humor that I personally believe is far more potent than just showing.

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