in Here's a thought, Marginalia

Here’s another thought about strategic, spatial arrangement of images


In the sequence above, Crepax utilizes the comics storyteller’s most reliable tool, the grid,  but subverts it with an understated grace as potent as that of his pen strokes.  As they’re most often laid out, grids work the same way as lines of prose text, moving across the page in straight tiers that read right to left before resuming below to lead the eye along the same path once more.  It’s an effective, reliable tool for putting across information with comics — it’s easy to follow, and it also places readers, consciously or not, into something of the same headspace as reading prose (which bypasses visual impact and goes straight to the mind) does.  Crepax, however, eschews the lockstep, straight-lined march of panel tiers in his grid, instead jumbling the frames together into lazy stretches and sudden bursts.  There may or may not be a “correct” order to read this sequence in — is it across the page four times? or around it in a backwards “C” shape? or some spiralling combination of the two? — but what matters is that there isn’t an immediately apparent one, that the eye is drawn to examine the page on a visual level, to move around inside it and be affected, before it can read anything.

– Matt Seneca, many moons ago on Robot6

This is a good example of classic, sort-of-conventional comics utilizing non-/multi-linear qualities like I put forth in my attempted, formal definition last year (and I swear, I’ll stop banging my drum about that post and write something new soon!). Although there is certainly a progression in time from the top left image to the bottom right one, the order of the smaller, mid-sequence images is less obvious and can be read as discrete montage groups (or compunds). With the spatial strategy of slight grid misalignments between panels, Crepax disrupts the linear reading in favour of a simultaneous one and mirrors the emotion of the images with a haze of jump-cut close-ups filling the space between the first and last panels.

Seneca has many good points in his post beside the excerpt above, and I recommend taking the time to read them!

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