lördag 30 juni 2012

Back from the comics store, June 29 edition

Lots of nice stuff this month. I'm still working my way through Showcase Presents Batman 1-3, though, so it'll have to wait.

(Actually, I'm almost finished with #3. Carmine Infantino did a very good Batman, nicely inked by reliable old hand Joe Giella. Unfortunately, his Batman isn't the most common version in these books, but at least Giella's inks can be relied on to add a modicum of elegance to even rather inelegant pencil drawings.)

I did this!

Translated it, that is.

I always like to translate Zits because it's such a good strip. This is the second collection, and while it's not yet quite yet the excellent strip it's going to be later on, it's well on its way there and well worth anybody's time. My hat is definitely off to Jim Borgman & Jerry Scott for their good work.

Published by Ekholm & Tegebjer.

fredag 29 juni 2012

Rabasa, Pettyjohn, Ghez & Boucek: Deradicalizing Islamist Extremists

I'm not a believer in the "The Muslims are coming! Western Civilization is under threat!" rallying cry of various bigots and xenophobes – the ultimate expression of which could be seen in the horrors of the massacre in Norway – but you don't have to belong to that crowd to consider violent Islamist radicals a problem. Terrorism is no more acceptable from the Right, Left, Muslims or Christians etc – it's terrorism, plain and simple, and I find all sorts of flirting with political violence highly distasteful. So, techniques for deradicalizing extremists of all stripes would seem to be a field of study well worth pursuing.

This book, by Angel Rabasa, Stacie Pettyjohn, Jeremy Ghez and Christopher Boucek does just that.

The basic premise is simple. There are a number of people who've been apprehended as terrorists where radical islamism has been a prime motivator in their actions. How have various countries tried to defuse the danger that these people pose to society?

The authors come to that subject armed with strategies and knowledge that has previously been gathered about and used on radicals of other political stripes. The general problem is getting violent radicals to disengage from violent groups and leave violent strategies behind. In order to do so more reliably, the authors argue, it is better if one can also deradicalize them, as somebody who leaves a violent group but is still a radical may well return to his/her violent ways later on, if they get an opportunity to do so.

Rabasa et al draw on studies of people who leave gangs, criminal organizations, cults, sects and terrorist organizations to draw the following conclusions:

Individual disengagement is usually a consequence of a trigger, usually a traumatic or violent event. When that trigger occurs, it is crucial that there be support available for the individual to leave the group, or it might instead strengthen his/her commitment to it. So when a militant is captured, for example – a traumatic event – this may precipitate a cognitive opening, and that opportunity should be utilized.

Second, governments can influence the cost/benefit analysis of staying in or leaving an organization. This can be done by implementing counterterrorism measures while offering incentives to increase the benefits of exiting. Repression alone often backfires and causes further radicalization.

Third, individual commitment to the organization and its cause is an important factor. There are affective, pragmatic and ideological bonds to overcome. The individual has formed emotional attachments to the organization and its members, receives practical benefits from that membership, and has a loyalty to the group's ideology.

This latter part is important when dealing with religious groups, and often necessitates theologically skilled people who can confront members' beliefs and show them other interpretations of their religion which are incompatible with the crimes they've been committing as members of the organization. Most Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian programs of disengagement and deradicalization use mainstream scholars and former radicals to engage radical extremists in discussions of Islamic theology for this purpose.

The authors examine prison-based programs for individual rehabilitation. Basically, a full such program includes the theological component, support for the prisoner's family (so that they feel that society isn't casting them out but is in fact trying to help them), having the prisoner learning a job so that he can support himself and his family when he gets out, having the community take responsibility for him when he's released so that he feels he has a place in society, and religious instruction – as many "Islamist" radicals don't have a very thorough theological schooling, leaving them more free to use snippets of religion to justify their actions. It is thus critical that the state can find credible interlocutors to develop relationships with imprisoned militants to challenge their views. You also need a monitoring function post-release to ensure that radicals don't fall back to their old habits and friends on the radical fringe. (And, of course, some radicals just aren't interested in deradicalizing at all.)

Mainly, it's about rehabilitation, and the programs they sketch out – and which seem to be most completely enacted in places like Saudi Arabia and Singapore – seem well thought out and reasonable. Of course, you wish that such programs would exist for all prisoners in one's prison system, as the basic rationale of the programs seem applicable to all sorts of criminals and radicals. The chapter on European preventative programs also points out that it is important to address grievances that otherwise may motivate Muslim youths to consider Western society as not caring about them, leading to them not caring about society right back and perhaps radicalizing in response to indignities and maltreatment – of themselves and others.

The book gives an initial summary of these strategies for deradicalization, then moves on to reviews of individual-oriented deradicalization and disengagement programs in various Middle Eastern & Southeast Asian countries and of preventative deradicalization programs in Western Europe, and also of collective deradicalization and disengagement strategies  – once an organization's leadership gets disaffected with violence, if they have sufficient "cred" with their members to convince them as well, you have a golden opportunity for collective deradicalization. And with good counterterrorism polices, terrorist organizations will eventually come to a possible turning point when they realize that "hey, this isn't working. We've been doing this for twenty years, and we haven't really accomplished anything". In the final chapter, you then get some implications and recommendations based on the findings of the book.

If you're short on time, practically all you need to read is the summary. The rest of the book deals mainly with how various countries have succeeded in implementing the strategies implied, and the recommendations chapter draws upon the strategies sketched out in the summary. My recommendation is to read the summary, then the first chapter – "Disengagement and deradicalization" – for a closer look at what the terms mean and imply, followed by the section dealing with how Singapore enacts is deradicalization program (as it seems the most fully implemented one), and finally close off with the Recommendations chapter.

This is a book well worth reading (though you can save a bit of time by following my "study guide" outlined above), but I do think you should keep a couple of things in mind when doing so: The strategies here are applicable not just to Muslims, because not just Muslims are susceptible to radicalization; all Muslims are not the same; and Islamist terrorism is not the greatest threat to the world today. It is an important issue, but we have many other sources of terrorism (I don't think Islamist terrorism is the most common one in Europe, for example) and many other societal problems that need to be dealt with. Just because Al-Qaida managed to commit a huge, coordinated atrocity in the US in 2001, and the US government then, after taking down the Afghanistani terrorist-tolerating government, went nuts and invaded Iraq, does not mean we have to focus narrowly on Islamist terrorism and radicalization – nor ignore it, of course.

That said, this is a good book for what it sets out to do: show strategies for preventing radicalization and facilitating people's exit from radical and violent organizations.

Worth a read, definitively, although most of the "this is how they do it in countries X, Y and Z" chapters can be read a bit more cursory IMO. Recommended.

lördag 23 juni 2012

Bud Grace: Hög klubba ("High-sticking")

Before Bud Grace made it big (especially in Scandinavia) with his Ernie/Piranha Club strip, he was a nuclear physicist. In between, he was a freelance cartoonist, getting published in various magazines. This is a collection of his cartoons from those days.

Grace's background as a physicist comes through in many cartoons depicting researchers and laboratories. (My favorite is the one about the researcher who blames her constant tardiness to meetings on Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.) Others depict themes that would recur in Ernie (albeit in milder forms), like men who can't get women and therefore date animals.

You can sort of tell that Grace hasn't quite found his niche yet with the cartoons of this volume. He seems to oscillate between going for a Playboyesque or perhaps Gahan Wilsonesque absurdity and the gross-out factor of Hustler cartoonists (I associate to Tom Cheney, but it's been so long since I read his work that I can't be certain that I don't misremember his style of jokes). There's also a cartoon or two that seems to be going for a Gary Larson-type humor, but that could be because of them both being inspired by the same American cartoon traditions. A lot of them are funny, a few are merely vulgar or do stuff that's really been done before. I enjoyed it but probably won't be in any rush to re-read it.

One of the cartoons that made me think of Tom Cheney's work.

This is an amusing but not really great collection of cartoons; you'll probably laugh at some of them and not really care for some others. I think it's worth a read, at least. But if you're an Ernie/Piranha Club fan, of course you should read it to get a hunch about where Grace is coming from; this is the precursor to the sometimes-inspired silliness of the Ernie strip.


fredag 22 juni 2012

onsdag 13 juni 2012

My t-shirts, part 53: Sold my soul to rock n' roll

I was never a fan of that whole rock star image thing; mainly, it seems to consist of being a jerk. So it's no wonder I love Opus in that role, because if ever there was a mismatch, that's it.

måndag 11 juni 2012

Matthew Forsythe: Ojingogo

A little girl is out taking pictures with her camera. The camera comes alive, and grows in size. A weird, bird-feeding creature is wandering through the woods. The camera has shrunk again, and is suddenly snatched from the girl by a tentacle from underground. Furious, the girl runs after it, only to collide with the weird, bird-feeding creature, which eats her picture and her bag, and intends to swallow the girl as well when the birds interfere and save her. She orders the creature to carry her to the hole in the ground where her camera disappeared, he does, and she's promptly snatched underground by a huge tentacle.

Turns out she's been taken by a huge octopus-like creature, which eats some roots that turns it small, whereupon the girl pounces on him, puts him on a leash, and starts dragging him through the weird underground world in search of her camera.

There's really no point in going any further into the plot, because it is really largely non-existant. Mainly, Matthew Forsythe, the creator of this largely wordless comic (and such words as do exist are in a non-existant language), uses it – or rather, the dream-like world he's created – as an excuse to offer a seemingly endless array of weird creatures and their metamorphoses.

Some critics love this, some are more "meh". Me, I'm a fan of plot-driven stories, and there's very little of that, so I'm landing in a position of being grateful that I bought this book on a sale and didn't pay full price for it. However, if the non-plot-driven, imagination-tickling, joy-of-drawing-weird-stuff thing is your thing, then this might be for you.

It's not for me, though, so I can't recommend it.

lördag 9 juni 2012

Comics storytelling 24: Movement

Alright, this is the next Dark Knight Returns page, and as you can see, it depicts the young Bruce Wayne falling down the "rabbit hole" he fell into on the previous page.

First, look at that first panel, the one depicting the actual fall. It is a rather high panel, going from the top of the page down to the bottom of it. It is also rather narrow compared to its height, increasing the feeling of height. And as the previous panel was drawn out downwards and to the right, this one goes up a bit from the 4 x 4 panel-grip Miller uses, up to the very top of the page – thus establishing, sort of, a connection with the previous page, and emphasizing the height element.

Second, look at all the SKREEs below Bruce in that first panel. They're the sounds of the bats milling about in the cave. I suppose you could borrow a semiotic term and call them "signs" for the bats. Anyway, they're establishing a position for those bats, setting the stage for the next panel, where Bruce is below them having landed – "OOF!" – and then reacted to his landing – "Aaj!!". So you have two moments being depicted in this one panel; keep that in mind as we're later going to move into analyzing how time is depicted on this page.

Third, in panels 3 and 4, the Bats fly lower, almost colliding with Bruce. Note the bat shapes in these panels – they emphasize that the SKREEs really depict bats, and that the bats now are really "in Bruce's face". This impression is reinforced by the more intense red color in these panels, and the intensity is increased in panel 4, where the SKREEs take up more of the panel and are more chaotically intermingled with each other, leaving less free space in the panel. This increased intensity is reflected in Bruce's speech, with the boldened "bort!" ("away!") – he begins to shout because he's more stressed out.

Finally, in panel 5, we see much fewer SKREEs, indicating that there are fewer bats remaining. Those SKREEs are also decreasing in size – the two lower ones are smaller than the top one (and we know that the come after the top one because we read pages from top to bottom) – indicating that the remaining bats are also moving away from Bruce, as sounds sound weaker the further away from us they originate.

(Did I mention that Miller is a master storyteller? This is really brilliant stuff.)

One more thing: The final panel of this page, like the final one on the previous page, extends off the 4 x 4 panel grid outwards to the right and downwards. However, in this case that isn't to indicate movement; instead, it is a larger panel simply because it is a momentous moment in Bruce Wayne's life, and the increased size of the panel depicting that moment simply reflects the increased importance of that moment.

(We'll be returning to this page later on for some analysis of how time works in panels, looking at the splitting up of a picture into four panels and comparing it to pressing four pictures into one panel.)

My t-shirts, part 52: Snoopy yawning.

I love this one.

fredag 8 juni 2012

Comics storytelling 23: Movement

I'll be coming back to the "time" theme in this series of posts on storytelling in just a while, but first, we'll do the lead-in to those examples, and it happens to give us the opportunity to look at some storytelling dealing with movement (or rather, the illusion of it, since we're in reality just looking at inert pictures on a page).

This is from Frank Miller's brilliant Batman – Dark Knight Returns, which remains one of the high points of the superhero comics genre. A retired Bruce Wayne/Batman sleeps a fitful sleep as recent events, such as increased gang violence, have taken a toll on his peace of mind. He dreams about the events that led up to his choosing to become a "bat" after his parents' death. (Note the shadow of the bat crossing the moon as Wayne sleeps; it reinforces the near-mythological interpretation of Batman's origin that is about to be presented, as if the bat is somehow connected with his dreams.)

Anyway, young master Bruce is out on the manor's grounds with his parents, running after a rabbit. The rabbit escapes into a hole, and Bruce doesn't want to give up the chase – whereupon the ground gives way, and he falls into the suddenly much larger rabbit hole.

And now comes the clever part: This sequence is at the bottom of the page, so the final, larger panel expands to the right and downwards, out from the 4 x 4 panel grid that is established as the standard in the story. By doing that, Miller draws the reader's eye further to the right and downwards than it would otherwise have gone, and thus creates the illusion of movement to the right and downwards, reinforcing the reader's impression that young Bruce is, indeed, falling down the hole.

This is in itself would be enough to establish Miller as a master storyteller, but it is only the beginning – as we shall see in the next installment of this series.

torsdag 7 juni 2012

Joe Casey et al: Avengers, Earth's Mightiest Heroes Ultimate Collection

Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek showed that you could do very good drama by simply replaying historical events from the Marvel Universe with a different angle to the story (or stories), and it was a big hit with readers. Of course, it didn't hurt that the art was simply gorgeous.

Joe Casey has done something similar with his two Avengers mini-series, Earth's Mightiest Heroes Vol. 1 & 2. Here they are, collected in one large volume (2 x 8 issues makes for 370+ pages, folks) for $35 – which is pretty cheap for a Marvel paperback; far too often they're ridiculously expensive instead.

The first half of the book depicts how Iron Man gets the team started, overcoming the suspicions of the National Security Council and its liaison, Special Agent Murch, and then sees everything rapidly going to hell in a handbasket when founding member The Hulk loses it and goes on a rampage. Much of the book (that is, the first Earth's Mightiest Heroes volume) will be devoted to the ardorous process of overcoming this PR disaster and the general population's natural suspicions against some of the world's mightiest beings banding together.

A major step in that direction is taken when the team discovers Captain America floating in the sea in a state of suspended animation, and resurrects him. Cap isn't without issues of his own, though – haunted by memories of the death of Bucky, he desires revenge on Baron Zemo, the Nazi super-agent responsible. This is probably the major subplot backing up the major plot thread throughout the book, Iron Man's struggle to keep the team together and functional in the face of interior tensions and the demands of the military and the NSC. Others include Cap's initial aversion to young Rick Jones hanging about and his gradually developing friendship with the lad, as well as the issue of having an actual God in their midst – initially, the general consensus seems to be, "this is an incredibly powerful guy, so if he wants to pretend that he's an old Norse god, let's let him, as long as it doesn't get too silly". A nice touch.

Thor and Iron Man confrontation. Letting color do the
rendering works here, especially in the first panel.

And there are plenty of nice touches in the book, and a lot of good characterization. One episode that stands out for me is Rick Jones taking Captain America to the Vietnam memorial. Cap spends quite a long time looking at the wall, so finally Rick asks how much longer they're going to stay. Cap's response:
"For as long as it takes for me to read every name on this wall.
For as long as it takes to acknowledge every soldier that died…
…in a war that I missed."

(Obviously, but I'll point it out anyway just to be on the safe side, that isn't an endorsement of the Vietnam War but a warrior's regret that he wasn't there to protect his fellow soldiers.)

Anyway, by doing good deeds, the Avengers are gradually redeemed in the eyes of the public, and Cap gets his opportunity at revenge on Zemo, naturally discovering that revenge is a hollow triumph indeed. This is very good stuff indeed, and my only complaint is that the artwork doesn't always work as it should. It's not that it's bad, it's just that…

Look, I love nice rendering; beautiful drawings like Neal Adams inked by Tom Palmer or Gil Kane inked by Neal Adams have given me some of my earliest and greatest aesthetic experiences in life. Volume 1 artist Scott Kollins doesn't render; he uses the same thickness on his ink line throughout, offering only the barest of sculpting of the characters' faces and figures – and that's OK, because the color art by Morry Hollowell and Wil Quintana does a marvelous job with the rendering and mood-setting instead. But occasionally, there are pictures that just cry out for more sculpting by a lively ink line and some nice feathering, and there, the color art just isn't enough; instead, those pages or panels take on the look of a coloring book.

Hawkeye, coloring-book style.

It's not often, but when it happens, it just seems so unnecessary.

The second half of the book, collecting Earth's Mightiest Heroes Vol. 2, is penciled byWill Rosado and inked by veteran Tom Palmer, with Wil Quintana doing more traditional coloring. The rendering is exquisite (naturally, it's Tom Palmer we're talking about), but the figures and faces are a bit stiff, and the Wasp looks a bit frumpy at times – which doesn't work in a superhero book, unless you're doing it to make a point. (Even though I'm all for not pushing women to strive for impossibly supermodel-esque bodies, superheroes do have "heroic proportions", and all the men in the book get them.)

Anyway, there is still the problem with appearances, with not just former crook Hawkeye now in the Avengers, but an actual android – created by the evil robot Ultron, for crying out loud! The Vision has to struggle not just with who he himself is, but also with S.H.I.E.L.D. putting him through the wringer. Meanwhile, the responsibilities of leading the Avengers – who suffer quite a bit of intra-team tension – takes a toll on new chairman Hank Pym, who eventually experiences a mental breakdown, creates a new persona for himself as the rogue Yellowjacket and claims to have killed Hank Pym. To cure him, the Avengers play along with his delusion, and the Wasp even marries him.

I'm not too keen on this part, as it sort of strains credulity, even though Casey struggles mightily to make it work. I'd have preferred if he'd concentrated more on the characters and their development instead of the sometimes rather childish bickering among the team and the rather outrageous-soap-opera-ish Yellowjacket sub-plot. The Vision's path towards becoming more human while dealing with the suspicions of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the NSC is a far more interesting sub-plot in my humble opinion.

Yellowjacket. (Psychology majors might note that the "enter the patient's psychosis with him"
line of  therapeutic intervention was tried in the sixties, not to any great success.)

(I'll also mention the role Jarvis plays throughout both story arcs as a constant source of support and grounding in reality for the superheroes. It's another of those nice touches.)

In summary, not perfect but quite good. Well worth your time – not least because it lets you get to know characters like Hank Pym and the Scarlet Witch before insensitive creators wrecked their lives for petty sensationalism. Recommended.

onsdag 6 juni 2012

DC Showcase Presents: The Losers by Bob Kanigher, Ross Andru & Mike Esposito, and John Severin

So I've been working my way through a bunch of DC Showcase volumes. It's a mixed bag. Some of them are really bad, some of them are bad but saved by the artwork, some of them aren't really good, but viewed for what they are and considering the how long ago they were written, they're still OK. I think you really have to approach most of them as if you were still a kid – and from that perspective, there are still a few that I'd call "good".

Joe Kubert contributed a bunch of beautiful covers for the series.
As editor, he also apparently redrew the occasional panel inside the book.

The Losers is not good, though. In fact, it's pretty bad.

Here's the set-up (from G.I. Combat #138, 1969): The Haunted Tank, a light M-3 Stuart tank, has a mission. All by its lonesome, it's supposed to knock out a Nazi radar tower that turns out to be guarded by three German tanks. The light American tank kills one of the heavier German ones before sustaining a hit that destroys its gun, so it has to withdraw. Feeling like total losers, the dejected crew and their wounded tank clank aimlessly through an empty landscape, when they suddenly spot a navy Officer limping around, similarly aimlessly.

Russ Heath. Second only to Kubert as a DC war story artist.

In one of those amazing little coincidences, he had gotten the order to with his sole PT boat take out a big German gun, protected by a concrete bunker. By amazingly bouncing the PT boat's torpedoes along the waves, he managed to fulfill his mission, but lost the boat with all hands when it hit a mine shortly thereafter. (The limp isn't a result of any wound received in that tragedy, however; it's his old wooden leg that's responsible).

The navy officer, Captain Storm, gets a ride from the tankers, and shortly, they spot two more Americans wandering about. They're U.S. Marines Gunner and Sarge, who were brought over to the European Theater of Operations to teach an Army squad how to fight. Unfortunately, they lost the whole squad in an ambush, so they also feel like complete losers. And somewhat later, they chance upon a dejected flier ace, Navajo Indian Johnny Cloud, wandering away from his crashed airplane after having lost his greenhorn wingman.

So naturally, Jeb Stuart, the tank commander, asks this sorry lot if they'll help him fulfill his mission, and equally naturally, they agree. The newcomers sneak across an unguarded bridge into the unguarded little town harboring the Nazi radar station, and start shooting it out with the multitude of German soldiers inside the building housing the radar station, whereupon the Haunted Tank rolls onto the bridge guarded by two Nazi tanks, apparently to create a diversion – which is of course somewhat beside the point now that the foot soldiers have already been discovered.

Anyway, the Nazi tanks keep missing the M-3 (a good thing, too, as it only has its machine gun to protect itself), and the German soldiers guarding the radar facility keep missing Captain Cloud et al, so the latter simply drop a bunch of tank rounds down on the radar station, blowing the whole thing to kingdom come. After that, everybody escapes unscathed – except for Capt. Storm, but fortunately it's only his wooden leg that gets hit (which'll be a recurring event throughout the book; huge amounts of ammo will be expended in the Losers' direction, and the only casualty they'll suffer is another hit in Capt. Storm's wooden leg).

Anyway, this initial episode was drawn by Russ Heath, so at least it looked gorgeous, The following ones, from the pages of Our Fighting Forces, don't even have that going for them. Ken Barr does the first following episode, then the classic team of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito do about 100 pages. (Unfortunately, I've never much cared for their style; a certain stiffness in the figures and something about the way Andru draws faces, especially the mouth area, has always put me off.) Finally, John Severin takes over the art chores for the rest of the book's 450 pages, and while his no-frills style isn't exactly Kubertian, it's still pretty good. (I'd call it the Neue Sachlichkeit if that name wasn't already taken.)

Characteristic overwhelming-odds-and-no-cover-don't-matter fight scene.
Artists: Ross Andru & Mike Esposito.

But ultimately, it doesn't help, when the scripts are mostly artless repetitions of the same old story – the Losers whiningly accept a mission ("What does it matter? We're the Losers. We always lose!"), the Losers attacking an overwhelming number of Germans and winning, accomplishing their objective but failing to do so perfectly, then whining "We're the Losers. We always lose!".

Occasionally, there'll be a story that has something going for it, like a sentimental story about the Losers making friends with a young English woman about to marry, only to see her killed by a Stuka (inexplicably attacking an English countryside inn) and then her flier fiancee killed in a dogfight before he learns the tragic news, but mainly this is "we can beat these SMG-armed Germans with just our fists" tripe that I don't think I could have liked past the age of ten.

Machinegun-armed plane against a half-dozen guys armed merely with submachine guns.
You only get one guess who'll win – and without any losses, of course. Artist: John Severin.

Not recommended. Leave it to the comics history nerds to do the slugging one's way through this one.

måndag 4 juni 2012

Back from the comics store, June 2012 edition

I almost read more comics last month than I bought today, but I think the second-hand ones (first picture) put me over the edge – although, in fairness, most of those aren't really comics but books about comics.

Looking especially forward to:

The José Luis Garcia Lopez book, as I know very little about him and TwoMorrows generally seem to produce excellent stuff (see, for example, their Bruce Timm book and their Gene Colan book – which I've read but not yet gotten around to reviewing);

The Black Panther Marvel Essential, as it contains Don McGregor's somewhat legendary take on the character, of which I've only read one or two issues before and which seemed to include mainly the hero getting severely beaten up again and again; and

Yoshihiro Tatsumi's Fallen Words, as what I've read by him has generally been excellent stuff as well (A Drifting Life, Abandoning the Old in Tokyo, etc.).

fredag 1 juni 2012

Comics storytelling 22: Time, the passage of

OK, so we know that going from one panel to the next (usually) means the passage of time as well, but how much? How do you establish the amount of time that a series of panels represents?

Usually, you don't, leaving it up to the reader to decide, but if that passage of time is important, the comics creator(s) may want to show it somehow. A caption might tell the reader that it is now "later", "soon", or "the next day", for instance – but that doesn't give him/her the exact amount of time that has passed. An easy way of doing that would be by somehow including a clock in at least the first and last panels of the sequence. If you want to emphasize the passage of time more, you can have a clock in each and every one of the panels. Since that is something that is usually not done in comics, it will take on a special meaning and emphasize to the reader just how important the passage of time is in that sequence.

But that is the objective measure of time. You may want to emphasize the impact of the passage of time on the characters in your comics story, and/or may prefer to keep your comic free from artificial gimmicks like the aforementioned clock. There are methods for that as well – and as usual, it helps if you're a good artist, as in this example from Marvel Fanfare (the artist may be Carl Potts, but I'm not certain; it's been a while since I read it). Here, the passage of time is indicated by the increasingly bored Spidey slumping more and more in his watch-keeping position up on a roof. We don't know exactly how much time has passed; we just know that by Spidey's standards, it's a lot.