Thursday, March 1, 2012

Comic Language

My friend Brian sent me a link to this short comic about a nerdy, grammar-loving dragon. Made me giggle and then feel sad because sometimes I feel like that dragon.

I've been reading a few comics lately. I just finished Marvel: 1602, written by Neil Gaiman. Right now I'm in the middle of The Life of Captain MarvelI just talked X-Men for the better part of an hour with my friend Joey. I've got comics on the brain.

(Tangent: I Googled the word "KTANG" (one of the sounds that Rick Jones's arm bands make when struck together to call Captain Marvel from the Negative Zone) hoping that I would find a cool picture to post here, but I ended up seeing a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender fanart by people who 'ship Kitara/Aang. This is my favorite. And then I read the article "Use and Misuse of Power in Avatar: The Last Airbender." And then I commented on it.

So anyway, comics --)
Comics are usually a combination of both words and images, but is one of those two things more important? After all, there are comics that don't have words, and there are books that don't have pictures. When I read a comic, I usually zoom through it, mostly reading the words, only stopping to look when something is particularly eye-catching or essential so that I understand the story. Then, I go back at read it again, absorbing the art and how it interacts with the words on the page. I always read a comic twice. And that second time through, I'm always surprised by how much of the art I've already absorbed.

To be short, the answer is no. The images and the words work together. If you haven't read Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud, you should. It's a semiotics course, an art course and a design course all in one. Oh, and a comic book. #meta, y'all. Here's McCloud's explanation of how close the abstracted art of comics and the direct language of comics really are:

Language Log curates a tag for linguistically-aware comics.

Also, here's a great quote from Leonardo DiVinci that I stole of off a great post about children's picture books:
And you who wish to represent by words the form of man and all the aspects of his membrification, relinquish that idea. For the more minutely you describe the more you will confine the mind of the reader, and the more you will keep him from the knowledge of the thing described. And so it is necessary to draw and to describe.

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