If you’ve ever studied any form of creative medium you probably know the difference between 1st, 2nd and 3rd perspective. It’s very easy to distinguish these perspectives in the mediums of literature and film but the line begins to blur when we consider sequential art such as comic books and graphic novels. Sequential art is in this form relies on a combination pictures and words to give context which can create an interesting situation. Consider this panel from Daredevil:
Here we are presented with an image taken from a 3rd person perspective, as we are perceiving Matt Murdock from an external viewpoint. However the words that we are give in conjunction with the images are taken from a 1st person perspective as Matt appears to talking to us directly about the situation he is in. This means that, as readers, we are trapped in a theoretical state between the 1st person and the 3rd person, thus creating a dual narrative that we are following from two different perspectives simultaneously. This isn’t unique to comic books, consider voice over scenes in films or video games, but I believe it’s more common in sequential art. The reason is evident in panels like these:
I have already covered how time works differently in sequential art in a previous Grr(aphic) Monday
(which you can view here
) but the reason for that aspect of the medium comes from a limitation of the medium. It’s very difficult to have a long scene in the medium without it becoming very boring, very quickly. Visuals get repetitive and even fight scenes can lose their appeal after a few pages. This means that an artist and a writer wish to convey as much detail with as much speed as possible, the manipulation of time can aid in this as well as using two perspectives. It’s easy in the above panel to understand the entire situation, and how Daredevil
reacted, from start to finish because we are given so much detail from so many sources.
This is an important feature of comic books to remember both when reading and writing them as it is important to understand every detail and how it contributes to the overall story. This gives comic books the ability to move faster and cover more ground than almost any other medium, whilst also focusing on tiny important details and moments. I recommend, as a little exercise, trying to take a scene from your favourite film and work out how you would make it into one page of sequential art. It’s really tough but can help you to identify what makes iconic scenes so iconic and improve you awareness of sequential art design.
…and that’s all from Grr(aphic) Mondays this week! Hope you enjoyed it, if you did please feel free to like share and paint the URL onto you favourite authority figure. Check back on Wednesday for a BearSleuth Opinion Piece!