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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Reader Experience

I recently bought a compilation of Alan Moore's run on WildC.A.T.S. but I had to return it. Ignorant me, I didn't know that a whole bunch of artists contributed to Moore's stint. The back cover of the TPB only mentioned Travis Charest (whose Nowlan-ish art style I adore), and I didn't bother to ask the sales clerk for an open sample to check out the artwork. What did I say about a cover being a promise? *sigh*

Flipping through the pages of that trade made me think about how much art figured into the whole scheme of modern-day industry practices in popular comics storytelling. On one end you've got Charest's hard-edged linework, then on the other end you find Kevin Maguire's deliciously quirky renditions. Those two styles I admire, but in one book seems odd and schizophrenic.

It's like having Ang Lee directing the first half of The Incredible Hulk then passing the baton to Louis Leterrier for the second half--with two sets of actors to boot. Not a good idea.

Like movies and theater, comic books provide an experience which involves the interaction of text and image. And crucial to this experience is consistency. How often have we encountered a comic book series with art teams that change every so often, and end up frustrated? The frustration comes from the sudden shift in an experience we've gotten used to. A title with a set writer and art team provides a unique experience. Change the team, and you change the reader experience. The worst that could happen is a loss in readership.



At November 5, 2008 at 10:25 AM , Blogger Brandon said...

Going further with the consistency argument, how do you feel about consistency or lack thereof by the same in artist in the same book? Would your reading experience be affected by changes in execution, such as in Road To Perdition where the midtones are done differently in one half of the book than the other half? Or inaccuracies. Would it affect the reading experience if an artist cannot depict a character's face consistently from one page to the next, or is that something you can overlook?

At November 7, 2008 at 1:27 PM , Blogger Comics Creator said...

Hi, brandon. I think that, for comics readers, the minor inconsistencies can be easily overlooked as long as the style remained the same. I recall the comics series W.I.T.C.H. where, to the trained eye, there's obviously more that one artist working on that series. But because the style was consistent overall (there's a template the artists had to follow), the experience remained likewise.

When one artist decides to change styles midway into a book, there ought to be an artistic reason behind it. Is there a shift in the atmosphere in the story that warranted the change? If there isn't a reason that's apparent to the reader, then I feel that the reader has been shortchanged.

How's your book coming along? :-)

At November 9, 2008 at 2:27 PM , Blogger Brandon said...

Just doing a few last minute alterations. I'm submitting my files to the POD people this week, so hopefully it shouldn't be long until it's out there! I'll let you know when it becomes available.

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