Rhetorical Questions.

If you add motion and sound to a comic, at what point does it stop being a comic and start being an animated piece? Does it matter? I mean, obviously, a comic doesn’t need to be printed to be a comic, so what is a comic?

Eisner described comics as “the arrangement of pictures or images and words to narrate a story or dramatize an idea.” Is a one-panel gag comic a comic, then, or does it require more than one “frame” to justify its proper induction into the medium? Is it blind dogmatism that makes me rankle when I hear that a major comics publisher is bolting all sorts of stuff onto the side of that? Shouldn’t pictures and words be enough to tell your stories? Do bloops and bleeps and background music and motion really add to the experience or do they distract?

Furthermore, why is it important to me that something is or isn’t a comic? I mean, stories are stories, right? Does the carrier for those stories really matter? By turning up my nose at this initiative and labeling it a stupid gimmick introduced to justify charging a dumb amount for 19 pages of a never-ending story, am I effectively turning into one of those old guys who starts a petition to replace the current Green Lantern with the Green Lantern of my childhood or am I defending the integrity of an artform I love?

Should I just take up stamp collecting instead?

One more: In Understanding Comics, McCloud talks about how simplifying the visual form of a character makes them more of a blank slate, facilitating more of an interface between the reader and the character. When you add details, you make what is general more specific. By specifying what certain sound effects or scenes should sound like, do you make what is adaptable and “personal” too specific? It’s like that Achewood animated trailer thingy. “My” Ray, the one in my head, does not sound like that Ray. It doesn’t kill the comic for me, but it definitely takes something that was more nebulous and hammers it into a definite shape that, while probably sounding very accurate for Chris Onstad, seems “off” to me. Does that make sense?

Comics are, in my mind at least, not a passive experience. They require a certain degree of piecing together on the part of the reader, which is powerful to me. Adding in sound and motion means that you take that much more control away from the reader, replacing their input and imagination with something that, while “correct” to the creators, might not be so to the reader. It makes it less of an experience and more of a performance. Which is fine, I guess, but for me, it robs the medium of a lot of power.


Curated by Dylan Todd.

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