Sunday, August 20, 2006

Cinematic Vistas From The World Of Comics

There was an interesting post on Boing Boing about an instructional set of comic panels for artists. The panels were apparently put together by Wally Wood, a renowned comic artist, as a reference work for himself. Entitled "Wally Wood's 22 panels that always work!!", they have become a de facto teaching tool to many artists in the industry.

I think the panels have a lot to offer the world of cinema, especially machinima. Each panel in a comic strip, from the weekly comics in newspapers to the graphic novels found in any comic store, are the equivalent of a photographic moment. Each moment must reveal a great deal, as the space available to the artist is limited. The subtitle Wally bestows to this set reveals exactly his intentions: "or some interesting ways to get some variety into those boring panels where some dumb write has a bunch of lame characters sitting around and talking for page after page!".

This isn't just a poke at writers. It reflects how important the visuals are to any storytelling process, and this holds equally well for cinema. Instead of showing the same boring shots to an audience, great directors use the camera to enhance the story, not simply tell it. The camera tells the story, just as much as writer's pen tells the story in fiction. You can see some examples of the artist at work in a Wally Wood gallery (not the cover art, as that is more like a movie poster, but the inside panels).

Anyone who is interested in cinema should take a look at these 22 panels, not only if you are a consumer of cinema, but as a director if you are involved in producing any work. Machinima can especially benefit from this, because unlike a Hollywood director using the latest HD camera, machinimists are still severly limited by their ability to tell a story using an in-game engine. Consider the raw essence of the story that each shot is trying to tell and do the utmost to advance the story in that shot, and do it in an interesting way. Your work will improve considerably if you take that to heart.

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