Comics and closure

This is a somewhat belated update, but I felt it needed to be documented.

For this past week our comm lab assignment was to read Scott McCloud’s excellent Understanding Comic and use that reading as the basis for a 4 to 10 panel comic strip.

This was a paired assignment, and I ended up with the excellent Catherine White as a partner. Having read McCloud before, and having reread the book before our first meeting, I had some things to suggest. Once again demonstrating that I am not an artist, my idea was to play with closure. Closure is the way that the mind fills in the parts of the narrative not shown. When the murderer raises his knife and stabs it down and the scene cuts, you mind provides closure, filling in at least a general idea of what happened. In comics closure is a big deal because it happens between almost every set of panels. The mind must fill in what happens between one image and the next.

Given the specific way I tend to be interested in narratives, playing with expectations like this was a no-brainer. My specific idea, which interested Catherine, was to start with a simple two-panel comic which suggested a simple, uninteresting transition. We went with an uneaten bagel in frame one and the same bagel with two bites taken out of it in frame two. Hopefully the audience would fill in the mundane eating of the bagel for us.

Then, once the audience has this story in mind, we reveal the true sequence of events. Clicking on the strip reveals a longer, 7 panel, strip wit the same first and last panel. However, the expanded comic reveals a much less sequence of events that lead to those two bites being taken.

There were some mistakes in execution, of course, but I was rather pleased with things overall.

Of course I’m not an artist, or to whatever degree I m, my medium is analytical writing, so I feel like I’ve conveyed my point at least as well in ths explanation as I did in the comic, but it was still an interesting and satisfying project.

For those interested, the strip is here. Click on it to transition between the two versions.



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