Thursday, 12 December 2013

Comic-Book Timing

Cerebus #269 (August 2001)
Art by Dave Sim & Gerhard
(from Notes On Latter Days, Cerebus Vol 15: Latter Days, 2003)
...the biggest problem I faced was translating "Stooge timing" into "comic-book timing". One of the reasons that I had chosen not to use Harpo in the book when I "did" Chico and Groucho was the massive number of panels  required to do pantomime effectively. You eat up a lot of panels just having Harpo ask for directions, right? Slapstick (or "slap shtick", the original Yiddish term) is in the same category and it needed a balance of sound effects, sharp changes in posture and facial expressions, off-panel dialogue and almost exclusively forward and back "camera movement" (so the reader is compelled to do a series of "takes" in reaction to the mayhem transpiring on the page) to even approximate...

...I forgot which Stooges short I found the Moe vs Curly sequence in but it sure was tough figuring out how to do all of that Curly "hand waving" in and around Moe's face in one panel.


Anonymous said...

I've always thought that Dave can't be beat when it comes to using facial expressions and body language to convey character information and comedic business. Alas, I don't think this example works. Something about the white-guttered, borderless panels and their layout doesn't convey a temporal progression to me, so I don't get a sense of Curly's gestures. Still, interesting attempt at action we don't often see in comics.

-- Damian T. Lloyd, wfa

Tony Dunlop said...

I agree that I can't get a temporal sequence of hand movements out of this page - but I think that may be just the point (or a happy coincidence). The motion going on is chaotic, and produces disorientation in the viewer (and in Moshe!) that does not permit a chronological flow, so to speak.