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Old 10-03-2009, 11:53 AM   #166
RonaldMontgomery
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Originally Posted by arseneau77
K, well, in the interest of stimulating conversation, let's talk about narration.

When is it useful? How much is too much? Is it always better to follow the "show don't tell" rule, or are there times when a different approach is called for?
Who made you the the thread tastemaker?

I can make jokes with my friend if I want to.

Don't be such a jerk.
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Old 10-03-2009, 12:10 PM   #167
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Who made you the the thread tastemaker?

I can make jokes with my friend if I want to.

Don't be such a jerk.
Uh...okay...WHAT?!
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Old 10-03-2009, 01:41 PM   #168
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For my part, I'd say always show instead of tell.




Unless it doesn't work.
Sometimes things need explaining, in which case you're going to have to "tell." This is often a space limitation, or explaining something that isn't easily explained visually.

Sometimes showing too much early on ruins your twist or your reveal, so you might want to pull back on the visuals and "talk" around the subject matter before finally showing it.

Sometimes you can "tell" one version of a story while "showing" another, to show that the teller is lying or better, that the person is unclear on the truth.
But like any "tricks," these techniques should be used sparingly at best, and used with a purpose that serves the story. In general, telling instead of showing is a failure to use the medium to its fullest capacity.

One of my first and best ego boosts in writing -- I'd submitted a story to Zeroes to Heroes a few years back, and while the contest judges found a couple of issues with the plot of the story (obvious in retrospect) that precluded it from being a "winner," one of the notes about the scripts' strengths was "Richard writes well for the artist. He knows where to use dialog and when to stay out of the artists' way."

MOST OFTEN, telling instead of showing is just that -- getting in the artists' way.

- Richard
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Old 10-03-2009, 01:42 PM   #169
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Oh, and Chris is absolutely correct -- the story I chose was a LOT simpler in form and format than many of the other stories pitched, which made it a lot easier to complete quickly.

- Richard
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Old 10-03-2009, 02:13 PM   #170
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r nelson
For my part, I'd say always show instead of tell.

Sometimes you can "tell" one version of a story while "showing" another, to show that the teller is lying or better, that the person is unclear on the truth.[/INDENT]
I also like when there's two scenes happening simultaneously and the narration/dialogue from one scene overlays onto cut shots of the other...I think it shows up more in cinema than in comics but one comic example of what I'm talking about is in Watchmen when Dr. Manhattan is being attacked by the media and it's alternating with scenes of Nite Owl and the Silk Spectre fighitng thugs in the alley. It's awesome how the captions in the alley fight are actually from the Dr. Manhattan scene but they still seem to apply the the fight as well. I love it.
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Old 10-03-2009, 06:51 PM   #171
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Arseneau, I thought you were giving me crap. If you weren't, sorry. I was WRONG and I jumped to conclusions.
Again, I'm sorry.
(When I come in from the Kid Intense threads I'm always freaked out -- I don't know if it's the saline injections or the steroids.)


I was at the library on Thursday night, flipping through a copy of Transworld Skateboarding. I had an epiphany. Let me preface the rest of the story:

I'll admit it -- the nine-panel grid has always confused me. Writers talk about, "Oh yeah, I want to do a story in the nine-panel grid style."
I'm like, What does that mean?!?! they act like it's a kind of story, a genre to itself.
I think part of my confusion is seeing people do a shitty job with nine panel pages, like thinking that nine panel means plodding, punctuated by action or revelation...or using nine panels to establish a downbeat mood.
For me, it started to click when I thought about nine panels in terms of rock music. The panels are like the drum beat -- the drummer sets the beat everyone else follows. If the drummer can't keep a beat, everyone else will be thrown off; if you don't have a good panel flow, it doesn't matter what you put in -- how many old comics have you read where to editor added little arrows to direct the reader from one panel to the other?
So okay, you have your beat. In nine panels lets say it's a steady thump-thump-thump. You break it every once in a while, like maybe leading into the bridge, or at the end. Changing the beat punctuates a change in state, and/or sets up something, like maybe a crescendo.
So now, the question is, what do you build around the drums? Variation and repetition, setting mood, using weird instruments...and on and on. That's a whole 'nother noodle.
Viewed this way, nine panels seems to be an exercise in restraint. Honestly, the first thing I think of is the watch motif in Watchmen. Time marches and is measured the same, but what happens within the unvarying defined moments, though finite in action, is infinite in possibility.
I might be completely wrong about nine panels. But this helped me get my head around the possibilities, instead of looking at a nine panel page and thinking What the Fuck do I do now?!

Where was I, oh yeah, the skateboarding mag. They have this feature where they take these stop-motion shots of a skater doing a trick. What struck me about these pictures was how you could change the story by removing pictures. Oh sure, the beginning and ending are the same, but depending on the mood and tension, you can do all kinds of tricks. For example, on page one: 1/3/4/5 tell a different story than 2/4/6.

What clenched it for me...the name of the feature was 9 Frames/Second.
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Old 10-03-2009, 06:57 PM   #172
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As an addendum, I don't mean to say that time moves at an identical pace between panels on a nine panel page. Though I do think identically-sized panels lend themselves to that perception (and maybe why it's fun to break that perception).
Something similar is Shaun Tan's The Visitor. I started reading that (had it for two years and never opened it), and it blows me away. It's a very deliberately-planned work and the imagery is beautiful. Tan has one page of pictures of the sky over the sea, which I never thought I'd say this, but it's evocative. It captures the beauty and monotony -- and passing of days -- of a long ocean voyage.
It's a cool book, the kind you can lose yourself in, like a good picture book when you were a kiddie. I recommend it.

Oh, and I know saying nine panels is like a steady drum beat is a flawed analogy...but it helps you get your head around the idea.
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:28 AM   #173
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Somewhere's earlier in the thread I mentioned that nine-panels do tend to imply an even spacing of time. It's the rigid structure that does it, it's off-putting if you have 8-panels in an evenly spaced sequence and then one panel that jumps ten-years into the future. It is the rigid structure that does it, and it certainly does a good job of establishing a beat.

The best thing to do with a nine-panel, IMO, is to make your reader comfortable with time, and then throw them out of it by making follow-on sequences feel bigger or smaller. It's a good way to not just imply time, but to demand it.
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Old 10-06-2009, 12:03 PM   #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrod
It is the rigid structure that does it, and it certainly does a good job of establishing a beat.

The best thing to do with a nine-panel, IMO, is to make your reader comfortable with time, and then throw them out of it by making follow-on sequences feel bigger or smaller. It's a good way to not just imply time, but to demand it.
I don't know if the sequence of time has to be sequential...it was used to great effect in Watchmen when Laurie has flashbacks of her childhood.
Drawing feelings and images through, then regressing to them later, giving them a deeper poignancy. I don't believe a comfort with time is the purpose, though there is a steadiness.
To say that the nine-panel's best purpose is to set up a sequence...I don't know about that. I think in Watchmen, when you had a panel that was a whole tier, it had the effect of slowing down time: Nixon stumbling from Air Force One, Veidt striking his would-be assassin.
I guess that was a set-up but to serve the wider narrative, not for its own purposes.
But I agree, it did make the scenes feel bigger, varying the structure.

I'm think I'm probably going to make a fool of myself by using a Vanessa Carlton song to talk about comics:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgoH-KvZB2U
In the first 44 seconds of the song, the piano sets the pace. Vocals and instrumentation are layered on top. And after the 44 second mark, it feels like the song opens up. I love it.

I guess I think about how the panels themselves can be emotionally and narratively meaningful.

Oh, blah blah. Sorry, just my thoughts.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:30 PM   #175
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Originally Posted by RonaldMontgomery
I don't know if the sequence of time has to be sequential...it was used to great effect in Watchmen when Laurie has flashbacks of her childhood.
That whole issue is basically a schizophrenic time travel acid trip but it's probably one of the best single-issue comics ever made.
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Old 11-23-2013, 04:52 PM   #176
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I know this thread is freakin ancient, but I just wanted to give my appreciation for all the invaluable information here! I spent the last couple days going through all the posts (including the drunken waffle-sessions, lol), and I've learned shitloads.

You guys rock.
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