Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Little Nemo,Terry and the Pirates, Peanuts, and Calvin and Hobbes

I enjoy Little Nemo a ton. The world that McCay creates is so beautiful and unique. The comic seems to be almost just a way for McCay to show us this world he envisioned. There isn’t that strong of a plot, but it’s ok because the visuals are so fun and appealing. I love the absurdity of the comic. It really feels like a dream. It has those things in it that don’t really make sense but in the moment (like in a dream) you accept it; like how the ice palace was destroyed for money, or how it caught fire! I think the only real character with a personality in this excerpt is Flip. He is mischievous. It’s funny how awkward and not smooth the dialogue is in the comic. People are always saying “Um” and “Oh” and the characters seem to state one thing and the other character sort of repeats it back to them. It’s definitely not what I would consider to be realistic dialogue.
Terry and the Pirates is rather interesting. It’s bit too wordy for my taste, but they throw some pretty funny puns into the long streams of dialogue. It’s like a drama comedy sort of comic. It reminds me a bit of the old “Road to…” movies that stared Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. I think the biggest problem it has is that the large amounts of dialogue distract me from the pictures. 
Peanuts is quite different than Terry and the Pirates. It has very minimal dialogue and has a formulaic style of set ups and punch lines. I really enjoy it a lot. It was interesting to read some Peanuts from the 60’s and then some from the 80’s. You can tell that Charles Schulz has really honed in on what makes a good Peanuts strip. There is a lot less text in the 80’s comics and the punch lines are funnier. Charlie Browns character seems to have changed a lot as far as the drawings go. I kind of think the 60’s Charlie Brown is almost cuter than the iconic Charlie Brown as we know him today. I love how Schulz incorporates adult things into the Peanuts world. The Peanuts characters are always imitating what adults do (like the iconic psychiatrist booth that Lucy sets up) and I think this makes Peanuts into an ageless comic readable for both children and adults.
Calvin and Hobbes has been a love of mine since I was small. The art is so appealing and simple, and the puns are more of the “chuckle to myself” kind of puns rather than the “laugh out loud” kind. It really captures the mind of a kid and the drawings are so animated they come to life. I think my favorite strips are the ones that involve Calvin making snowmen. They are always morbid and hilarious. I could read Calvin and Hobbes all day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Understanding Comics

There were a lot of interesting concepts covered in “Understanding Comics”. I’m not sure how knowing these concepts would help in reading comics but nonetheless I’m glad I know these things.
Probably the most interesting thing for me was when McCloud talked about how he simplified/cartoonified himself for the book to make it not distracting to the viewer. He showed a more fleshed out version of himself in one panel, and my mind immediately started wondering who he was and started focusing on him rather than the text. I think his simple version of himself is very effective, except for one thing that has bugged me throughout the entire book (and in his second book “Making Comics”) is that he doesn’t give himself a neck or any indication of a collar for his shirt. I think adding one in would have been a good choice.

I enjoyed reading his study on the differences in western and eastern comics and how eastern comics go at a slower pace because that’s more how their culture is. I find this in films as well. If you watch any Miyazaki film, such as Ponyo, you will see this. As a Westerner it gets difficult for me to endure these types of stories. I want everything quick. This has always been a problem for me with comics and graphic novels actually; I hurry through them as fast as possible so I can find out what happens.
The book was an OK read, but from what I’ve read of “Making Comics”(a decent portion of it) I think that is a more successful book if you want to understand comics. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Max Ernst

In the first image sort of dancing at a rooster who is standing on a ball. There is a man lying dead in the background. To be honest I can't find any meaning in this image.. Maybe the rooster is this ladies god and she did his bidding and pushed the man in the background down the stairs. She is also offering him a plate of food. In the second image there is a bird man standing over the lady from before. She appears to be dead. Maybe she did not please the bird gods. The rooster from before looks on. His position in the image suggests now that he is not her bird god and this man is now the bird god. He must be a lower deity. The next image shows more bird gods and they are burying the dead worshipper from before. The cascate is nice so maybe she didn't actually displease them like I had initially thought. It seems they have a new worshipper, the naked lady in the background. Oh no in the next image they seem to be sacrificing their new worshipper. She looks pretty casual about it. There is a skull and cross bones on the slab she lays on. Her death seems imminent. There is some more worshippers in the background. In the next image the bird god is really upset. Maybe the other one killed the girl on the floor without the angry birds permission. two small roosters stand around and pretend not to notice the bird god being upset. In the last image there is a man dancing at a lady and one of the bird god looks upon them from a door. I think he is planning to kill them.

The Arrival- Wordless Comics

Writing a comic without words seems like a huge challenge. I have read some before that I had a difficult time following. The Arrival however was done very well and there wasn’t really any point in the story that I did not know what was going on. I think Tan did the format in a very smart way. The comic contains lots of small images explaining every beat of the story. It was very similar to how we in the Computer Animation department do our animatics (moving storyboards). Tan also made very good composition choices. They were simple and clear. I’ve noticed in a lot of comics the artists will jump around from panel to panel. They will switch which side of the panel the characters are on for seemingly no reason and this can be jarring sometimes. The Arrival didn’t have this going on which I think enhanced the easiness of the read. Tan also saved all the complex detailed shots for full-page images, which allows the reader more time to soak in what they are seeing. The world Tan created was incredibly beautiful, and felt very real. I think this was because he drew everyone so realistic yet added all these surreal elements that made it feel like it could be photographs taken from another world. I really loved all the cute animal pets that everyone had. I think that was my favorite part of the whole comic. I would love to see this made into a movie. The world feels so complete; I think it could be done very easily.