I was reading some old X-men comics when I came across a perfect example of a comic device I’ve never liked. It’s the second panel here:
(from X-Men issue #143, the Christmas special, 1980. Yes, they had a Christmas special where people get murdered by demons.)
The device I’m talking about is having the same character go through two different emotional states in the same panel.
Look at that second panel. Is the dude actually taking the time to say “I’m glad the moon is full. Things are lit up so bright I don’t need my flash—” while he’s getting nabbed by those ugly claws?
Of course not. We’re not meant to take it that way. We’re supposed to imagine the guy says “I’m glad the moon is full…”(etc) in one moment, and then he’s getting nabbed and yelling “URRRGH!” the next moment.
Problem is, we only see the second moment. The dialogue “I’m glad the moon is full” belongs to an implied panel, between the first and second panels, that is not actually drawn. So although I know analytically how I’m supposed to read this, it doesn’t work for me on an immediate perceptual level. What I see is some dialogue that doesn’t look like it belongs, because it doesn’t match the picture in its panel. It looks wrong to me.
Maybe it was an artistic choice to emphasize the suddenness of the action, but that doesn’t work for me either — there’s no sense of surprise because I see the action happening before I have time to read “I’m glad the moon is full”.
Just having two lines of dialogue from the same character in the same panel is not always a problem. The left panel, above, doesn’t have that same mismatched feeling, because “I’ll take a look” and “Relax, Ellie…” work with the art in the panel. You imagine the man saying both lines in the same tone of voice, with the same expression on his face. They share the same mood: casual, jokey, teasing his wife a little bit for being afraid. As a scriptwriter might say, they’re part of the same emotional beat.
Deciding what is and is not an emotional beat is pretty subjective, but there’s an easy rule of thumb to follow: every line of dialogue in a panel should fit with the character’s expression in that panel.
As I was writing that, I recalled Penny Arcade as an example of a comic that frequently broke this rule, in order to make the joke fit better in its three-panel format. I haven’t read PA in a while, but I decided to go to their archives and see how far back I’d have to go to find an example of two emotional beats in one panel. Not very far, it turns out:
It’s not as egregious as the “URRRGH!” example, but Tycho’s dialogue in the first panel here implies two different emotional beats: “How does armor work…” is curious, while “Gabriel, that was unnecessary” is irritated.
The artist has tried to disguise the transition by drawing an expression which is sort of halfway between curious and irritated. The expression sort of works with either line of dialogue, so there’s no obvious art/text mismatch anywhere. But, while this tactic avoids obvious incongruities, the face has to be really bland to make the tactic work. It has to be a sort of statistical average of two faces.
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to save a panel and make the dialogue fit in your chosen layout. But the price of this trick is losing out on an opportunity for expressive cartooning. That’s why my suggestion is to always give each emotional beat its own panel, if you possibly can.
Photo with 4 notes
courtesy of @beckyandfrank in the Adventure Time 2013 Summer Special comic
I think the “women are mysterious” thing can also come from:
1) Women actually being quite clear, but not telling men what they want to hear. ”She said she doesn’t want to talk to me? So many mixed messages and confusing signals!”
2) Women not having cheat codes. ”I tried being nice, and she didn’t have sex with me. I tried being an asshole, and she didn’t have sex with me. Come on, there’s got to be some kind of solution to this puzzle!”
3) Women not being a hive mind. ”First a woman told me that she likes guys with big muscles. Then the very next day a woman told me she thinks muscles aren’t attractive at all. Make up your mind, women!”
4) An individual woman doing something confusing, and instead of asking “why is she doing this now?” men ask “why do women always do this?”
Yeah, I can definitely remember thinking things along the lines of 1, 3 and 4 in the past, and this making me think women were “mysterious.” (I don’t think I’ve ever really thought like 2, but I’ve known guys who did.)
This kind of thing is probably one of the main reasons I have positive views of feminism — specifically, feminism in the “think about male privilege” sense, as opposed to sense of any particular political program (I have positive views of those too, but that’s not what I’m talking about here). I remember thinking things about women that were both dehumanizing and (in retrospect) really stupid, and it wasn’t at all obvious to me that this blind spot was there, and the only way I became aware of it was by people pointing it out.
It seems like men in my society come pre-installed with these oddly terrible (in both the sense of “immoral” and “incorrect”) ideas that just sit around until they get specifically corrected. Broader ideas about equality or open-mindedness can’t correct for them. Indeed, the terrible ideas are so dumb that if they could be dispelled by basic common sense and decency, it seems like almost no one would believe them.
Instead, they live in their own little protected space, insulated from epistemic closure, and you can talk all you want about broader principles and men will still go on doing this stuff. The only way to fix the bug is to point it out specifically — “you have these specific bad ideas about women that seem to function in isolation from everything else and not obey common sense or decency” — and once you go there, you’re Being Feminist, and the vast and complicated reputation of “feminism” rises up to face you.
I wish the cure for this disease were easier to spread than it is. Men can be partly disabused of these ideas, I think, if the ideas are specifically addressed, but the act of “specifically addressing the ideas” has this really complicated reputation which leaves people lots of ways to say “oh, no, I’m not going to do that" and sound reasonable. I wish it were simple, and unobjectionable, to talk about these things.
This is a thing.
Being socialized male [or insert other privileged class here] fucks your brain over in certain ways, particularly if you’re of an analytical bent - accepting that there are ideas in your head that you didn’t put there can be really difficult for nerds, and denying that they’re there only makes it easier for them to function unquestioned
You come up with your system of the world, and it ends up being a big shiny dome which stops you from seeing what is actually going on when you interact with people
This means that as nostalg. said you can’t fix it systemically - these little hookworm prejudices are irrational, and they don’t function on the level that big ideas do, so changing your big ideas doesn’t hit them. You have to go down and pick each one off individually
This is how when I was younger I ended up writing all kinds of stuff off as “bitches be crazy” when it was convenient for me to do so, even though I had been raised by a feminist and thought of myself as a feminist
This is also why social justice chatter in its manifold specificity can be really useful - you can say the same thing 1000 times and it might be just one example out of all them that hits the right idea in the right brain in the right way
You are totes my angle.
fyi— “I treat you as pearls and treasures, you treat me as water weeds.” (also it rhymes. What’s a word for “salt water grass” that rhymes with treasures?)
Well it’s not potato
platinum and pond scum almost rhyme but the scansion is off
"I treat you like piles of scrilla, you treat me like Hygrophila"
where Hygrophila is a genus of flowering acanthus most commonly called swampweed
if you pronounce it with the emphasis on the first and third syllables instead of on the second
Surely someone can come up with something better than this
"i treat you like treasures and gold, you treat me like seaweed and mold"
"i treat you like pearls and monaaaay, you treat me like frozen wakame"
"i treat you like treasures and bling, you treat me like kelp in a spring"
ok thats all
written by Greg Pak
art by Victor Ibanez
looking good but maybe the artist should have studied tsunamis a little more
People look down on McDonald’s employees but fail to realize that if all these folks left McDonald’s and pursued “better careers” your ass wouldn’t be able to get a McDouble with an Oreo McFlurry at 3am.
You can’t demand a service while simultaneously degrading those who provide it for you.
'Why on Earth would someone commit air piracy just to finance a terrible movie decades later?' 'People are very strange these days.'
Page 1 of 391