Wordless Comics

In the influential graphic novel Understanding Comics, creator Scott McCloud defines comics as:

“Juxtaposed pictorial and other images in a deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer.”

Notice that this definition does not include any specific mention of comics requiring words in order to be considered comics. Words, sure, fit under the generously vague “other images” category, but, at their most unadorned, comics simply need images put together in a particular order to be comics.

These “wordless comics” still require reading, just of a different sort. Images, on a spectrum of realistic to abstract, are associated with each other and meaning is made, just as with interpreting letters and words. Wordless comics use “silence” to their advantage by necessitating a closer reading of the colors, backgrounds, moods, layouts, line-work, and body language of the characters.

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Kickstarter Comics at the Library

Generally comic book collections or original graphic novels are purchased by the Library from a book distributor. The titles offered by these companies typically include materials from major publishing companies. But many wonderful titles are produced by smaller presses or individuals, and funded through crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter. Many of these titles, after their initial Kickstarter printing, are picked up and reprinted by a larger publisher such as Boom! Studios or Image Comics.

The Library purchases materials from these publishers as a way to diversify the collection and support independent and oft-marginalized creators. Many of the stories told in these books unfortunately aren’t found at larger presses. Take a look at these recently crowd-funded comics and graphic novels in The Seattle Public Library collection, and Continue reading “Kickstarter Comics at the Library”

Worldbuilding in Comics

Emerald City Comicon is coming up March 1 – 4, and also coming to The Seattle Public Library for a day aimed at educators and librarians! To celebrate, let’s take a look at the idea of worldbuilding in comics and graphic novels. Worldbuilding is the process by which the writer and the artist (in the case of comics) create and elaborate upon the world in which the story is set, beyond the basic trappings necessary to tell a plot-based tale. This tends to include details about things such as fashion, culture, language, and geography, which further contextualize the story in a way that also preserves enough mystery to keep the readers coming back for more.

Here are four recent comics and graphic novel series, all obtainable at The Seattle Public Library, in which worldbuilding is a crucial part of the storytelling:

Afar vol. 1 written by Leila del Duca, art by Kit Seaton
This absorbing first volume of Afar follows teen siblings Boetema and Inotu, fleeing from an android cutthroat in a post-industrial desert landscape. Concurrently, 15-year-old Boetema unexpectedly develops the capacity to astral project to another world while asleep. Markedly non-European in art style and inspiration, the combination of otherworldly science fiction, medieval African, and post-industrial design makes for a welcomingly distinct experience.

Monstress vol. 1 & 2 written by Marjorie Liu, art by Sana Takeda
A world of humans, human witches, anthropomorphic animal demigods, and animal-human hybrids is the enthralling setting of Monstress, the story of Maika Half-wolf, our protagonist (but-it’s-not-really-that-simple), who is, as their name suggests, a hybrid wolf-human. Having lost an arm — and a whole lot more — in the recent war between humans and Arcanics (the aforementioned animal demigods and hybrids), Maika must uncover what’s happened to her mother in order to figure out what’s going on with the demon that seems to have replaced her lost arm.

The Nameless City vol. 1 & 2
written and illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
The first two volumes in The Nameless City trilogy follow the developing friendship between Kaidu, the son of a foreign-ruling-class diplomat, and Rat, a local of the Nameless City. After an attempted assassination of the city’s aged ruling General reveals deep conflict within the foreign ruling nation itself, Kaidu rediscovers the formula to a lost weapon developed by the original builders of the Nameless City; but should this information be shared with the city’s current occupiers, given to those who would seek to expel them, or kept secret? The third and final volume The Divided Earth comes out in September 2018!

Shutter vol. 1-5 written by Joe Keatinge, art by Leila del Duca
The five volumes of the Shutter saga see explorer Kate Kristopher drawn into the mysterious and damaged world of her long lost father and the illuminati-esque group known as Prospero. This world is the world of Story itself, with anthropomorphic animals, pop-cultural references, well-developed characters and relationships, and, of course, plenty of adventure.

~ posted by Mychal L.

A Tale of Two Comix Celebrations: ICAF and Short Run Comix

During the first weekend in November, Seattle will be hosting both the International Comic Arts Forum Conference, and the Short Run Comix & Arts Festival, both free to attend!

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Comedy in Comics Spotlight: Chip Zdarsky

Rose City Comic Con is coming up, the weekend of September 8-10, in Portland, OR. Comic book artist and writer Chip Zdarsky will attend as a guest. As he rarely travels south from the wilderlands of Canada (urban Toronto), this is a unique opportunity for fans to meet him in person.

Chip Zdarsky is the pseudonym and comics alter-ego of Canadian humorist Steven Murray. While working in comics since the start of the millennium, over the past four years Zdarsky has created or revitalized multiple comic book titles, working as an artist, but mostly as a writer. Continue reading “Comedy in Comics Spotlight: Chip Zdarsky”