Obviously there are certain laws to reading and making comics and if I haven't repeated it enough then Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is fine place to find them. But, Campbell argues there are certain subtleties that may muddy the comprehension process. The article is extremely interesting & contains examples but I thought that the most interesting points were:
- All the information necessary to understand the drama of a sequence must be contained in every panel of the sequence. He provides the following example by Bernard Krigstein:
- Speech balloons should follow a system that can be intuited and doesn’t need to be explained. As he suggests is not the case in this example from Marvel's Fantastic Four (remember he is referring to the confusion it may cause to a novice reader):
In response to Campbell's points Neil Cohn from the San Diego Centre for Research in Language makes some excellent comments (see here) drawing attention to different styles of comics appropriate to European, American and Japanese traditions; the last of those, for example, include a higher percentage of single character close-ups in their comics. Cohn also, in reference to the point about the order of word balloons, writes about studies that have taken place into the eye movements between experienced and inexperienced comic readers which concur with Campbell's thoughts.
As I've said, subtle factors and I certainly wouldn't suggest that they provide a distinction between "good comics" and "bad comics", but important to consider if one were engaged in a project with a primary focus to appeal to a wider audience.
|D'ya follow? Campbell's From Hell|