Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > I'm collecting resources on comic craft. Anyone else have anything interesting?
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"I'm collecting resources on comic craft. Anyone else have anything interesting?", Two weeks ago, 4:50 AM #1
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Comics vs Film

Images, and the form of the text included in each panel can dictate how a line should be spoken
or what a sound effect should be. The size, shape, and location of a panel can even indicate how
long a moment should be, translating into the length of time a camera should linger on a subject
in film. Despite these obvious physical similarities, however, there are other realities of the
comic and film mediums that preclude direct translation.

In comics, the panel can be standard, including word and image, and requiring readers to
bring the two disparate elements together. Things like voice and sound are still left up to the
imagination, but font, size, color, and placement of text within the panel all guide the reader in
the imagining.
Ioannidou calls the comic “a very self-conscious medium that does not stress
credibility and verisimilitude,” instead preferring “artificiality” in the displayed (in drawings)
perceptions of illustrators (233).
It is also possible to use the comic panel itself in highly
nonstandard ways. In Watchmen, parallelism between pages on either side of the middle of a
chapter creates symmetry in a pivotal moment (e.g., the assassination attempt on Ozymandias)
(Moore V.14-15). In American Splendor, panels are sometimes almost entirely filled with text as
Pekar seems to speak directly to the reader, with only an image of his head and shoulders to
indicate that it is indeed Pekar speaking.

Panels can be large or small, take lots of time or none
at all; pacing of a comic is still partially up to the reader, who must, in a loose sense, collaborate
with creators to make sense of the text in a way that film does not typically require.

Film, unlike the comic book, is a curated experience. Directors and producers decide
how long each scene will be and how long the camera will linger over a given subject. Actors
dictate the sound of characters’ voices, and give definite emotional interpretations to written
lines that may have previously been ambiguous. Film audiences are as a result of those qualities
less actively or collaboratively engaged in the consumption of the text. Film can often be
characterized as “amusement that is intended for passive consumption” (Ioannidou 232), and is
typically a more popular medium than comics because of the safety of its passivity and

Let’s Stop Using Film Terminology to Talk About Comics

Comics aren’t made with a camera. They’re drawings. And when we talk about and think about comics using film terminology, we’re not only confining ourselves to only engaging with certain aspects of the medium, but (for those of us who make comics) we’re confining ourselves to only telling stories in certain ways.
We use filmic terminology to discuss comics because they employ filmic visual language… and comics employ filmic visual language because that’s how we think and talk about comics. Any situation that limits the available tools to think about and create comics is not an optimal situation.

But comics and film have so much in common! – I hear this all the time, but when I press the issue the response I usually get is, “They’re both visual narrative… and, uh…” Notwithstanding the fact that neither film nor comics are necessarily narrative in nature, this is just about the only thing that I can think of that the two media have in common. Everything else–physical scale, shared vs. private experience, drawings vs. actual pictures of things, multiple static images vs. illusion of motion, the way time is controlled/experienced, etc.–seems to me to be radically different. They’re different things and we should think about and discuss them differently.

Moebius's approach to depth was also uncommon in that he avoided the "television" approach to entering and exiting scenes.

In television, and often in movies, it's budget-friendly to film interior scenes and exterior scenes at separate times and locations. The first camera unit shoots a scene between two actors on a set representing the inside of a farmhouse; meanwhile, the second unit goes out to get exterior shots of a real farmhouse and the land surrounding it. Later, the shots are edited together, such that you begin the scene with a wide shot of the farm, and then cut to medium shots of the characters speaking, inside the house. The problem with this approach, aesthetically, is that it creates a subtle disconnect in the mind of the viewer between the characters and their exterior location. Even without realizing it, viewers sense that the characters don't TRULY occupy the world outside their window.
Two weeks ago, 5:57 AM #2
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I think comparing film and comics isn’t wrong? A comic might not be a final film, but it’s not so unlike a storyboard! There may not be a physical camera, but that’s part where it’s harder to catch mistakes in comics. If we don’t follow the 180 degree rule in comic it can be much more noticeable than in the film genre it came from. You have to make sure items are in the same location panel to panel in comics as you do shot to shot in films, even if the angle changes.

Knowing types of shots in film and when they are used is very critical in comics as well, more so than in film where other aspects than visual can portray emotions. A Dutch angle portrays uneasy feelings, a low angle looking up on a character gives the viewer a sense of strength from a the character.

Film media also teaches the value of lighting, not just in the sense of portrayed emotions from angles and color, but adding multiple points of lighting and how to use this to make a character appear different from their background.

Too many times i see animators and comic book artists think film is a different genre, to have no lessons to be taught into another media, but film etiquette is so invaluable to any visual storytelling. I would always recommend learning the most basic rules of film when partaking any visual storytelling media, there is so much important things to take over!

Comics differ than film the biggest in my opinion in framing. Film is confined fully into the rectangle of your screen, but in their own page panels of a comic can take on any shape. I’ve seen panels bleed into others with fantastic displays of both flow and a sense of motion you wouldn’t expect from a still image. The shape and position of your panels play so much into focus of the readers. Larger panels feel more focal and important them smaller ones, and you characters can even reach out of one panel and collect an object from another, presenting some amazing in order panel run throughs.

There’s a reason film and comic have such a large overlap. Media designs a hella drug ppl.
Two weeks ago, 9:19 AM #3
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TadaKiba:You have to make sure items are in the same location panel to panel in comics as you do shot to shot in films, even if the angle changes.

do we really though? i see plenty of videos explaining this applies to film making. if someone can find an example of why to avoid it in comics specifically, id like to take a look. The entire background can vanish for several panels and the reader fills in the blanks.
Two weeks ago, 9:44 AM #4
it's pronounced "Kooky"
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I always found using film terminology is just a quick go to for explaining set-up and events when writing a script but it's not what I'd call a "sticky" rule. It's when you sit down to draw the page is where you can change, reshape how to approach it visually.
Two weeks ago, 10:57 AM #5
has dimensions, like an onion
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In very ancient times, it was possible to tell a story orally, or to recite it like in theather.

Personally I have no idea of what is the older of the two, but I would bet on "theather".

Literature, poetry etc. descend from oral stories, and for a pair of thousands of years or more have been the dominant form of our culture, because "theather" could not be recorded other than in written down form.

Comics and movies, on the other hand, descend from theather, that now can be recorded or reproduced.

So I think it makes sense to use movie terminology for comics, because it refers to telling a story by showing what people do, rather than saying it in words; other stuff more specific to comics like, say, cinetic lines or different drawing styles get lost in this, but I think those things are just means to telling (ok, showing) a story, the showing a story part is more central IMHO.
Two weeks ago, 1:38 PM #6
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killersteak:do we really though? i see plenty of videos explaining this applies to film making. if someone can find an example of why to avoid it in comics specifically, id like to take a look. The entire background can vanish for several panels and the reader fills in the blanks.

In lengthier scenes especially when the characters are interacting with their environment or there are many notable characters, it is important to know. A misplaced statue or large rock your character was standing behind 5 pages ago may not always go unnoticed, but when it does it leaves confusion to where the character is in the scene and looks lazy to others. Not every comic style or scene situation can afford the more cartoonish background escaping approach. Knowing a near 3D build of your scene is sometimes important.
Two weeks ago, 4:50 PM #7
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I don't get why Ben Towle says that people should use terms like staging when that... IS a filmic term, it's a theater and animation term that gets thrown around in film that also sees use when discussing composition in general. I also don't understand why he's saying people should use the language of graphic design to describe comics because they DO. Especially the word staging! I hesitate to criticize a dude with his level of success under his belt as somebody who doesn't know what he's talking about but here I am to say it sounds like like this guy needs to diversify who he speaks to because people use non-filmic language all the time.

Hell, Scott McCloud's books spoon feed you a non-filmic vocabulary. I have repeatedly advised people on here and in discord group chats about staging, using that word, recently explained baseline (a typographical term) and X height to another artist when advising on how to improve their comic, and also discussed graphic design / composition terms like line weight and value.

There are people who complain that "nobody does xyz!" Because they haven't actually encountered the plethora of people who do by not actually actively consuming resources. Like writers who aren't interested in reading the books others have written. They think their ideas are unique because they don't read anybody else's.

And I low-key think this duderino is one of them.

That said, if you read Indeh by Ethan Hawke, you will instantly see the difference between comics and film in a way that's very difficult to pinpoint and yet impossible to deny. Indeh has a visual narrative quality that reads like a very detailed storyboard more than a comic. It's a great work and it has a certain movie like quality due to its lack of engagement with traditional comic layout and paneling.

So he's not wrong, Ben Towle, about how there's this visual iconography of comic making. But to say that people don't use a hybridized language from composition and design and cinematography is just arrogant failure to actually engage with other artists. Wtf.
Two weeks ago, 5:01 PM #8
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I agree with the guy in the general sense that film isn't 1:1 on comics and shouldn't be treated that way because there are things that are particular to comics and things particular to film. It is limiting to think of comics only in terms of film. But I dunno that i've ever heard anyone seriously argue that - and most of my 'how to' comics exposure has been stuff like McCloud's books which like MissElaney said are very 'comics as comics'.

Anywho here are some resources i've gotten when i've asked for feedback on my own work - might be useful:
How to draw contrast
Tips from Jesse Hamm
Panel transitions - basically McCloud lol

Two weeks ago, 5:07 PM #9
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Yeah man low key is turning into high key for me.

Hey Ben have you heard of this book called 'MAKING COMICS' by Scott McCloud? I know it is a really really obscure hard to find book that nobody ever had once mentioned before but if you just open it you'll find

Breakaway panel
Speech balloon
Moment To Moment
Subject To Subject

And more!!!

All for 3 easy payments of 9.99

But if you call now we will add in a second work, UNDERSTANDING COMICS by Scott McCloud FOR FREE

Also the Temple Of The Seven Golden Camels is a comics blog that is now defunct but a resource worth binging.
Two weeks ago, 7:31 PM #10
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The writer probably wasn't ignorant of all that, just protesting mainstream corporate comics trends, where everything is a pipeline to film and TV production (although he didn't articulate that per se). There's no incentive to play with the formal aspects for creators who want to shop their I.P. to Hollywood. I saw an interview with the publisher of AWA comics and he talks a bit about film and TV potential, so I think it's a metaphysical part of the business culture of comics these days. The big publishers probably don't want to make things too complicated for Hollywood execs.
Two weeks ago, 8:02 PM #11
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I am struggling to see it your way because I don't see any indication that he's actually talking about this pipeline to film and TV production - like, he didn't just fail to articulate it, he failed to so much as mention it. He's just bitching about an amorphous "them".

He blames Terry And The Pirates as a comic to throttle the development of comics as its own independent medium and doesn't really mention comic execs and it's from 2014.

Terry And The Pirates was read by millions ... of children. That isn't to say therefore it has no impact or value. It has a significant impact on the action/adventure comic genre and comic artists like Jack Kirby, it gave us tropes like The Dragon Lady (which, while racist, still is a testament to its historical impact on popular culture).

It's just to say, Terry And The Pirates was distributed at a time when the medium was not being taken seriously. Comics in America were for children and only children. Terry And The Pirates did not serve as a work to elevate the medium as something to be taken more seriously and thus explored and codified with technical language and semantics. If he wants to put blame on somebody then it sure the fuck isn't going to be Milt Caniff, he was too soon, and a better "culprit" would be people like Will Eisner, Frank Miller, and Art Spiegelman, when Marvel execs were starting to really find out what they could do with this medium because people were taking to the idea that comics can be for adults and be "as good as" books and movies.

And these people who re-engineered comics into graphic novels and blossomed them into the format we know today were making works that specifically call out terms from film and not-film, building a hybridized language. Open up "Expressive Anatomy For Comic And Narrative" by Will Eisner, the dude who's so influential that we have Eisner awards for comics (not Caniff awards -- no shade against Milt but he just isn't The Guy), and he's specifically teaching you the concepts of staging that Ben is like "buh, you should say staging!!"
Two weeks ago, 8:14 PM #12
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He admits to "random and disordered thoughts" so yeah, it's bullshit, but friendly bullshit. Although Roy Crane probably didn't have any opposition to Milton Caniff's works or inspirations. I'd like to read the full quote.
Two weeks ago, 8:17 PM #13
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I guess, but just. Ugh, man, I really bristle at what I perceive to be faux-intellectualism.

Well, anyway,

Will Eisner's comic-craft books are worth adding to the pile:

Expressive Anatomy For Comic And Narrative

Comics and Sequential Art

Graphic Storytelling And Visual Narrative
Two weeks ago, 8:25 PM #14
User avatar of the most highly lauded recent comics and graphic novels have been from creators who are either deliberately or just naturally not using filmic visual language. What “shots” are these? What “camera angle” is being employed?

I see more like a montage of angles?

Fun fact: the human eye is a camera.
Two weeks ago, 8:42 PM #15
send dogs pls
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okay as someone who studies film and just got done with a bunch of film theory classes, i had a very visceral reaction to reading this LMAO. i think it's a good topic to discuss and you can get a lot of mileage out of this, but for whatever reason i apparently have a very strong opinion about this after that film theory class so i don't think i'd be a very productive participant. (and it's pretty in line with miss elaneys tbh lol)

anyways i just wanted to jump in and say killersteak, i dont have anything on me or anything since i usually dont dig into stuff like this, but you might get a lot of mileage out of looking up comic theory stuff, especially if you happen to have access to like an academic database. you might be interested in film theory too, since a lot of that stuff was people talking about the divisions between film/theatre and what makes a film, well, film, and it feels like that could be pretty applicable to talking about the divison between film/comics which is what i think you're looking at right now?
danny phantom pissed on my fanfiction in the dennys parking lot :(
Two weeks ago, 8:43 PM #16
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Ben:Some of the most highly lauded recent comics and graphic novels have been from creators who are either deliberately or just naturally not using filmic visual language. What “shots” are these? What “camera angle” is being employed?


Oh, I'm sorry, my bad,

what "camera angle" is being employed -

<gordon ramsay voice>


</gordon ramsay voice>


Also Killersteak I hope you do not think I am directing this at you I'm just being a shitbird about Ben being like

11 days ago, 4:54 AM #17
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Some of Roy Crane's Buz Sawyer stuff collected, and more nice articles in general at The Comics Journal:
Forum > Webcomic & Art discussion > I'm collecting resources on comic craft. Anyone else have anything interesting?
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