Monday, June 17, 2013

The Marra Method: Traditional Comics Techniques for Visual Storytelling | 5. Do Not Decompress

An on-going, evolving series collecting my thoughts on the craft of telling stories through comic books. These posts do not document rules; these are the ideas passing through my mind when I'm making comic books.

5. Do Not Decompress

• Just like in prose where a scene, a description, an action, simply require the necessary amount of words to be communicated, a scene, a description, an action, in comic books require the precise amount of panels they need to be communicated. No more, no less.

• Do not decompress. But also, do not compress these narrative elements too much either. Find the balance. Find what is necessary.

• It became common in mainstream comics to decompress stories for the financial benefit of the writers and artists working on the books, but in the long run it hurts the medium and the legacies of those creators.

• It makes economic sense for the writer (or artist), who gets paid by the page, to stretch a story that could be told in three issues to six issues. But the practice is to the detriment of the readers' experience. The other adverse effect is to the amateur comic book creator who is being influenced by the mainstream comic book professional.

• Another reason for mainstream decompression was the rise in trade paperback collection sales. Stories were padded or extended to six issues—when fewer would suffice—to fit the trade paperback format.

• These techniques are an affront to the Story.

• You do what the Story requires, you answer to the Story and nothing else.

• Strunk believed the key to successful writing is efficient writing: Cut needless words. It is the same with comic books. You cut needless panels, needless pages, don't draw needless lines and cut needless words, too. You use exactly the amount that is required to tell the Story.

No comments: