Some cite the first comic book as The Yellow Kid in McFadden’s Flats from 1897 (Comics: Comic Books – Illustration History) but as we discussed in class tales like The Adventures of Mr. Obadiah Oldbuck from 1837 maybe one of the first graphic novels and use of visual storytelling on paper. Many of these early works of visual stories are often shown in newspapers and comics at the start being most prominent in the funny pages. When we study comics in class we focus on a number of things but most importantly what we see in an illustrative sense and what we read on the page as words.
When looking at the visual elements of a graphic novel you can look at everything within a panel and everything outside of it. In Watchman we get to see how Alan Moore utilizes a traditional comic framing method of black outlined boxes while still breaking that structure in unique ways (Framing Super-Vision). He does this by utilizing the juxtaposition between two different scenes and dialogues that often continue each other in different contexts. This is most easily seen when looking at moments where frames bounce between the main world and the comic within the comic called Tales of The Black Freighter. Also from a visual sense there is a lot of symbolism and foreshadowing shown within the panels of Watchmen. Repeating symbols such as the triangle and colors like purple and gold attribute heavily to the conclusion to the story and without them would leave the story much less cohesive.
From a writing standpoint comics utilize the words on the page in a couple ways. Most commonly words are used for dialogue between characters or as a soliloquy. Words can also be used to represent sound effects. Diction is important for both of these forms. Choosing what words a certain character says adds to characterization and choice of onomatopoeia adds to the tone of the comic. Having a character talk a certain way can tell us a lot about them or even foreshadow things within the story. Things like narration can also be present in comics and do the same thing. In Watchmen we often receive narration from Rorschach’s journal entries and are also utilized to contrast what we visually see in the panel (Framing Super-Vision).
Comics are often more complex than they are perceived to be and can be analyzed to a degree similar to a film and even a traditional novel even if they often aren’t taken as seriously as either of those two mediums. Next I want to discuss the similarities between films and discuss some of the stigmas related to comics to possibly explain the gap of study made between the two.
Comics: Comic Books – Illustration History. https://www.illustrationhistory.org/genres/comics-comic-books. Accessed 7 Dec. 2022.
Framing Super-Vision: Panoptic Vision and Controlling Frames in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen – ImageTexT. https://imagetextjournal.com/framing-super-vision-panoptic-vision-and-controlling-frames-in-alan-moore-and-dave-gibbons-watchmen/. Accessed 28 Nov. 2022.