Its a little known fact that Albert Einstein loved comic books. Actually that’s a lie. The truth is, he probably would have loved them. He would have loved comics books because in all comic books time is entirely relative. Do not click away! I promise this will not be a science lesson, and I even promise I will change the way you look at almost all forms of printed media. I want to be comic book writer, it’s my rockstar dream, I don think it will ever happen and if it does it will be a combination of destiny and luck that gets me there. But, just like the kid who learns all the Foo Fighter’s set lists on the drums just incase they need him on stage, I have been spending a lot of my free time recently learning about how to write and analyse graphic novels and comic books. One of the most interesting things I have come across in my studies is ‘reader’s relativity‘ (there are a lot of terms for it but this is my preferred one).
‘Reader’s relativity‘ is the idea that the reader can dictate the speed of events and can even change the emotional significance of scenes by deciding what is happening between panels. For example, when Batman throws his batarang in one panel and it hits a goon in the next panel the reader can estimate there was only a few seconds between panels. However, if there is a panel of Batman jumping into a crime filled alley and then a panel of all the crooks tied up this allows the reader to create the fight scene in their mind. In a book this readers exploitation of ambiguity is known as ‘creative reading’. Ambiguity of events in both comics and books allow the reader to make their own minds up about the events and details they are not shown, but further than that, in a comic book the reader is also given a time machine.
Let’s do the Time Warp
Going back to the Batman example, if we see him jumping into and alley then a bunch of goons all tied up and both panels are set after dark we as a reader are given a choice. Did the fight take Batman ten minutes of intense and bloody conflict? Or was it a balls to the wall epic struggle between order and chaos that took two hours and left Batman worn out but victorious? I honestly like the second option more but I know the first one is more likely, the joy of comics is that I can reread the story choosing each option and seeing how that effects my reading of later events. If there’s a battle with Joker later in the issue I might feel Batman is going into it ready and looking forward to kicking some clown ass or I might feel he is entering the fight as a tired and broken combatant, fighting not because he wants to, but because he has to.
Comics sure are great! That’s why I’m now doing Graphic Monday where every Monday I’m going to do a piece on techniques and interesting ideas to do with the world of comics, that doesn’t mean I won’t still talk about comics the rest of the week but it means I can guarantee you comic book content every Monday right here on BearSleuth! Just wait for Mexican Friday’s they are a complete taco-fest…