Sunday, July 27, 2008

Comics, Webdesign, Closure, Cartooning

A friend of mine sent along a link to this lecture by Andy Clarke about how comics can inform webdesign. Most of the talk is a regurgitation of McCloud's theories, but he has some interesting parallels and ideas. (There's an mp3 of the talk that you can flip through the slides with).

Also, while I don't necessarily agree with the ideas, Gary Sullivan ruminates a bit on Closure.

Finally...I was sent a link to the Australian Cartooning School which has a decently formalist bent to analyzing and teaching cartooning. Definitely worth poking around the site.

Alright, heading back from San Diego soon. Perhaps I'll be able to muster up some convention/conference reports...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Talk talk talk...

I've been remiss in my reminders this year, but I have a few talks coming up if anyone is around San Diego.

The first is another appearance at the Visual and Iconic Languages Conference on July 21-22, which I believe is closed to the public (more's the pity), though my talk will be on a general overview of visual language theory. Hopefully, as with last year, they'll put the talk online.

A few days later I'll be over at Comic-Con, where my talk is on Friday at 12:30 in room 30AB. I'll be presenting a talk about manga and Japanese Visual Language. Here's the description of the panel:

12:30-2:00 COMICS ARTS CONFERENCE SESSION #7: VISUAL LANGUAGE - Neil Cohn (Tufts University) explores the visual language underlying the "manga style," how it works and how it differs from the visual languages in comics developed in other cultures. Robert O'Nale, Jr. (Henderson State University) uses David Mack’s Kabuki to illustrate how gestalt can be an important avenue for analyzing design and meaning in comics. Alec Hosterman (Indiana University South Bend) demonstrates the dominance of hyperreality in comics art and explains how it can be utilized for further study of the art form. Room 30AB


Both of the other presentations look promising, so it should be a fun panel. Come on out, enjoy the talks, and say hi!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Fun with Text

While preparing the Peanut strips for my next project, I came across a fantastic integration of text subtly hidden in this panel:



If you look carefully, at the center of the starry smack mark where the ball hit the bat, there is text reading ".315", which I assume is a reference to Pig-Pen's batting average (pretty good). This is particularly interesting to me since it's a descriptive use of text as opposed to a sound effect.

xkcd has a similar usage where instead of sound effects, the text reads the name of the action being done. However, the result in xkcd is that it describes the actions straight-out.



These two types of usage give complementary aspects of the way languages structure actions and manner of motion. Compare:

a. The ball flew into the glove.
b. The ball spiraled into the glove.

In sentence (a) you are given the action that the ball does, but little about the characteristics of that action. Sentence (b) gives you the manner of the motion, from which you derive the action implicitly.

Sound effects often give you information about manner of motion. For instance, a golf ball falling into a hole goes "Klunk" or "zoom" to describe a speeding car. These elaborate on the action itself. The use of text in xkcd eschews this to just focus on the action, without any manner of motion. What is intriguing about the Peanuts example is that ".315" is neither manner nor action — it is purely descriptive in an additive sense.

Playing with this one step further, we can create some panel pairs that replace the action for the sound effect. One characteristic of these types of "action text" is that they can stand in for the actions themselves (discussed a bit in Interfaces and Interactions). Note that both replacing for an action or manner of motion works fine:




However, substituting ".315" is a little weird — even with the expectation of the event — since it doesn't stand in for the action itself. It only gives you additional information about the action:



Looking through all these Peanuts strips, Schulz was more of a formalist than he's thought of I think.