Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Seeing Sound #1: Sixty-Two Balloons

Cerebus #214 (January 1997)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from 'Seeing Sound' in Cerebus The Barbarian Messiah, 2012)
What makes the representation of thought, and particularly extended brooding, in Cerebus so distinctive is the stacking of balloons across panel borders, employing different combinations of line thickness, text styles, etc. to represent the conflicted and contradictory thoughts of a single character. The variation in panel shape, the use of brackets and different letter sizes, and the self-correction as swearing gets partially erased or covered with the words "(no swearing)" and the multiple assents when making a good point ("Aye. Aye. Aye." each in a different but connected bubble) - all of these things create the impression of disconnected and leaping thoughts in a way much more natural than the articulation and properly-punctuated monologues often depicted. Unlike speech, which is linear because it takes a form governed by sequence and time, human thought (well, my own thoughts, and apparently Sim's) is less grounded in direct sequence. Sixty-two balloons concentrated in the close-up panels, form a perimeter around the nearly forty percent of the page without any text at all (which is actually memory): the prolonged isolation that Cerebus here feels is palpable, leaving him with nothing but his thoughts.

Do you have a favourite example of Dave Sim's innovative lettering in Cerebus that you'd like to see featured here on A Moment Of Cerebus? Send in your selection (the issue and page number will do), together with a brief explanation of its appeal/impact on you, to: momentofcerebus [at] gmail [dot] com

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