Pittsburgh Comics Salon – January 6, 2016
Good crowd again tonight. Did some easy drawing exercises while we chit-chatted. This is our one year anniversary for meeting regularly and so far so good. Feels less forced. More natural.We highly recommend starting a comics club that meets regularly wherever you live. –FS
Juan Fernandez here! Every month during the Salon we focus on exploring a new way of thinking about visual literacy in comics. What does it mean to compose a page? What are the different ways you can draw from memory?
The focus today was point of view. This month I brought some photos and wanted participants to create an 8 panel comic. Unbeknownst to the Salon this was my family from Teruel, Spain from 1953. Each participant was to render the scene in 3-5 minutes on a notecard, choosing one of the people in the photograph as the character through whom they would depict the world. They were to draw simple things. Their hands, what they saw above them, an object nearby, a detail of that object, their wrist. After completing 8 drawings, they arranged and added to their sequences in a way they found pleasing. They would be focusing on making be studies in point of view.
So why’d we do all this?
Alright, hear me out, point of view in comics is an interesting thing.
More often than not the goings on in comics pages occur via characters acting out on a “stage”. The camera moves from panel to panel, the setting changes. The reader is a viewer. A voyeur. It doesn’t always have to be this way though. There are ways to make the reader an actor.
When you move between a character’s point of view, of their hands and looking up at the sky it’s about their vision. It’s their mindset. The images can expand as the reader improvises how the character’s vision joins them together.
Whereas if you draw a whole scene that shows a character over and over, the reader is an outsider in relation to the story, a spectator.
The reader is making a mental model of the character, how and why they perceive what they perceive. This mode of unfolding a narrative creates a space for empathy. To understand that character you have to BE that character for a short while, moving back and forth between panels, trying to put together the how and why of a character. The comic is then a living tissue, you’ve extended your mind into it. Those mental jumps that the reader makes between panels, the understanding of why a character holds their gaze or focuses on a new object, it fills the space between the panels with empathy.
Aidan Koch, among others, is brilliantly adept at using this technique.
Just another tool to think about for your comics making arsenal.