Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Pet Door" + the Art of Grammar

An aspect of single-panel/gag cartoons that overlaps considerably with longform narratives (ex: graphic novels) is a preoccupation or at least awareness of how the spoken word can be transcribed and represented in visual form. Sequential art, image and text or pictures juxtaposed with the written word, is concerned with this interplay, and even the briefest passage, sentence and caption carries a double duty in not only pairing with the drawing to impart meaning, but wordplay as well.

Arguably it becomes even more of an issue when everything is consolidated into a single frame, as everything in theory ought to be edited down as much as possible. So even a single word sometimes can undergo endless permutations until the right effect is accomplished. Sound effects ("whuff," "snf" et al) - do they translate through onomatopoeic interpretation? Why "snf" instead of "sniff" or "snif" - and why not repeat it for more comedic effect? Will the bolding of a key word help enunciate stress during the internal reading of the letters and words? As shown in the above posted panel "sec" and "ya" might be commonplace slang for myself but how many others can make the jump, connect the dots and "get it." What's obvious to me doesn't necessarily mean it's universal, and that gray zone between a private universe where of-course-it's-obvious is evidence you're crazy to someone else.

Speaking of looking at things from the other side/another perspective, I've been mulling a lot as of late on the writing skills of myself and others, critically speaking. There's a curious instinct to dismiss comments from folks (very common on social media threads) that fail to employ correct spelling and grammar. I sure as hell can't judge... though the line gets crossed when you just simply just cannot even understand what the other person is trying to say. And whether the meaning is being expressed with words or through drawings, that's pretty much the sole criteria by which to determine it's relative effectiveness as far as communication. Unintelligible personal expression might be therapeutic or cathartic, but it's at best an exercise in solipsism - unless it makes sense, it's a pass/fail proposition.

I frequently ponder the correlation between my style of writing with that of drawings... I write like I draw. Every time a real writer (The Significant Otter for one) edits my statements, papers and proposals I am usually left feeling gobsmacked at how poorly I do. There are many serious artists out there that don't have any time for stupid cartoons either: their aesthetic sensibilities are offended to the degree that they take everything much too seriously - even themselves. That said, I cringe just as much re-reading old posts as I probably do perusing old cartoons. Hopefully I'll inexorably get better at the craftsmanship side of things with constant practice. Usually there will be some sort of overall stylistic evolution, punctuated with the occasional conscious, deliberate effort at self-improvement. In the meantime it's back to the proverbial drawing board, ad infinitum.

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