Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lio and the literal end

Long-time readers of this blog know how much I admire Mark Tatulli's take on comic strip conventions. In his strip Lio, he's continually exploring new implications of having characters who know they're in a comic strip.

The sequence from November 24, 2015 is a great example:

Everything you need to know is laid out in this one panel. And note how carefully it's laid out. The danger is stated in the newspaper headline in the lower left corner -- the first place the eyes see as they scan the panel. So context has been established. The word balloon for the Wite-Out is centered in the middle of the panel. It's removed from the headline to give the drama a beat, but not too far removed.

Tatulli could have positioned the balloon to come straight out of the bottle, but he didn't. By having it touch the top of the panel, he forces the reader's eyes to travel up so they don't immediately see who's speaking. Only the last word of the sentence is in line with the bottle. So only after we "hear" what's said do we discover who says it.

And note that the villians of the piece are cast in shadow. That shadow performs a couple of functions. First, it outlines the white bottle and eraser, making them pop. Second, it gives the alley some depth. And it makes this a proverbial dark alley where bad things happen -- like cartoon characters meeting their nemesis.

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