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.

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