Friday, 4 January 2013

Stretching 100 Pages

Cerebus #119 (February 1989)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from an interview in FA #115, 1989)
...I've changed [comics] in a way that nobody else is interested in doing. As soon as you say you're going to do a 1,200 page story it becomes a different thing. It's the difference between doing a two minute animated short and doing a Snow White... The more pages I allow myself, the more minor incidents I get into. I'm not doing 1,200 pages of densely spaced activity. Then you can get to the point of seeing how people gesture and how people reveal themselves. Less exposition. The fact that there's no captions. That wasn't done before but people forget that. Anybody doing a lengthy story - and when I started the 500 page High Society a lengthy story was a 60-pager - their first instinct was to start putting captions in it. The Sacred & The Profane [by Dean Motter and Ken Steacy], which is probably the longest story that was done in comics until I started doing the graphic novels in Cerebus, there was such an urge on their part for some reason to have this exposition up in the corner of the panel as if, if we leave this out, we're diminishing the length of the story. I mean, it's a 100-page story, so to make it seem even more magnificent we'll cram it full of words. My idea was, why not take that 100 pages and stretch it out to 1,200 pages, and all the things that you would put in the captions, do it over the course of 12 panels. I sit down and say OK, I want to get this across. Jaka feels this way, and Rick's reacting to her in this way. How do I get this across? ...How do people talk? Where do the pauses happen?


adampasz said...

Decompression gets a bad name now, but this was -- and still is -- brilliant stuff.

Jason Winter said...

Indeed. It allows you to really enter into the story, Like your breathing along with the characters.

Tony Dunlop said...

Indeed. This is why it was so jarring for me when (spoiler!) the last few issues of "Latter Days" skipped over several decades (pivotal ones at that) of Cerebus' life with just a handful of flashbacks and hints.

Tony Dunlop said...

Damn. I didn't mean to echo the preceding "Indeed." I just think like that.