Comic Talk and General Discussion *

Evoking emotion
Ozoneocean at 2:07AM, Sept. 4, 2016
posts: 28,716
joined: 1-2-2004
Evoking emotion in your readers/having emotion evoked from comics:
How do you do it? what are some mistakes/ineffective methods?

Banes and I did a Quackcast about this yesterday, it's an interesting topic because as a comic creator you use a whole bunch of different ways to a novelist or a film-maker.

Novelists have pages and pages of text they can use but as a comic maker you only have very limited space for text, most of the work has to be done in images, you can't have complex descriptions or long inner thoughts and so on.
Films have the advantage of a strictly linear approach that controls what, how and when the viewer sees something, they also have control over light, atmosphere, and sound too, which makes evoking emotion SUPER easy.

Comic creators have a much harder job. Your tools are more limited and take far more skill to use- brief dialogue, expressions, body language (it's a total myth that most of our communication is done through body language, most is done through actual language), colour, panel structure, lighting, angles, context…
-If you do manga you can use emotes as emotional shortcuts.

So how do YOU do it?
last edited on Sept. 4, 2016 2:09AM
bravo1102 at 4:29AM, Sept. 4, 2016
posts: 6,042
joined: 1-21-2008
Body language doesn't communicate words. So it says a whole lot less than words. It communicates emotion and feeling. It's there and so subtle and some people spend their whole lives in insensitive ignorance. But a reader or a viewer can and does pick up on it and creators should use it as shorthand to evoke an emotional response. Slumped shoulders can mean imply so much that an author could spend pages describing. But the guy won the battle but his shoulders are slumped = disappointment. Somehow something didn't turn out the way it was supposed to.

Eyes. They are the window to the soul. The size of the eyes (wide, narrow) and the attitude of the eyebrows speak volumes. And in comics you can exaggerate them. I have an expressive face and often when taken unaware my face says everything. If you can read a face you can pick up when someone is lying. There are things a person does without knowing it. Nonverbal clues are often unconscious. It takes practice to fake and hide them. Not everyone is a good actor. You as the creator control everything so your characters can give away things that no real person ever would. You can exaggerate and manipulate the reactions of your characters to evoke feelings that are emotional shorthand, not the long drawn out process of personal interaction that happens in real life.

Ever look at someone and their shoulders, walk and facial expression tell their entire life history and you find yourself tearing up? That's what you want to do to your audience. Evoke a non-verbal response. An emotion, something someone can't describe easily. You want to reach into the audience's chest and pull out their heart and they run for their hankie!

And then add color (or lack thereof!) and you can make a reader feel whatever you want to. William Cameron Menzies was a master. The whole color palette means different things and Technicolor was just fabulous for wrapping an audience around your little finger.

Remember this is fiction not real life. Things can be exaggerated. Things can be plain and obvious. You are trying to use the least amount of words and pictures for the most impact, so you have to choose carefully and things can happen quickly and purposely the exact opposite of long drawn out affairs in real life. You want to use nonverbal clues to make things more apparent than they are in real life because you are telling a story.
last edited on Sept. 4, 2016 4:40AM
KimLuster at 6:22AM, Sept. 5, 2016
posts: 795
joined: 5-15-2012
Interesting topic… I'm pretty good at making myself temporarily ‘feel’ a particular emotion I want to convey, so I imagine the emotion, then look in the mirror I keep nearby, and draw that (exagerated, of course, as Bravo suggest…)! ;) Unless it's a big scream of pain/anger - too hard to hold my face like that - I'll look those images up!!
usedbooks at 7:39AM, Sept. 5, 2016
posts: 3,356
joined: 2-24-2007
The simplified and exaggerated (along with colors and angles) convey emotion so much more effectively than realism. I feel drama, sorrow, suspense, and joy far more intensely when reading graphic novels or watching animation than I ever do from live action. And more from simplified style than detailed or realistic. We can critisize the bizarre proportions and style of mainstream anime or Disney, but some of that is very effective. There is some psychological basis to design protagonists very simply. Apparently, we see simple forms as the “me” character to empathize with. More detailed figures and environments are more outside the self.

In comics, layout can help too. Horizontal panels lend a feeling of stability. Angled or more vertical are off balance and/or active. You can break out of panels for impact and action.

Oh, and fewer words. When I want emotional impact at its strongest, I drop the dialogue or use the fewest and most poignant phrasing.
last edited on Sept. 5, 2016 7:44AM
Ozoneocean at 8:29AM, Sept. 6, 2016
posts: 28,716
joined: 1-2-2004
Those are some good suggestions! Exaggerated features were something we didn't touch on in the Quackcast:

Didn't think of that!
Salemwarlock676 at 11:05PM, Sept. 6, 2016
posts: 1
joined: 9-6-2016
The way i try to is mainly with body language and change up line work on facial along with the body since the image is whats usually I'm assuming is seen first, and positions or colors schemes can help
bravo1102 at 11:12PM, Sept. 6, 2016
posts: 6,042
joined: 1-21-2008
Italian cinema and spaghetti westerns. Long shots to extreme close-up and often stoic expressions that mean everything. Actions, glances, and stoicism that speaks volumes. Sergio Leone was a master of understatement that means so much. And can evoke a very emotional response once the tension is broken. Very visual.
HippieVan at 5:28PM, Sept. 7, 2016
posts: 3,003
joined: 3-15-2008
This is sort of the opposite of the question that you asked, but I find myself trying to limit how much emotion I invoke sometimes. My comic is meant to be kind of light-hearted and silly, and too much sad stuff just doesn't suit the tone. But at the same time, there has to be some conflict to keep the story going/interesting. My current approach is just adding dumb little jokes whenever I feel like things are getting too serious (or too boring).
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
totallyraddad at 6:15PM, Sept. 12, 2016
posts: 22
joined: 4-4-2016
i write when i can't sleep, it's when i'm the most messed up. you think crazy things when you're tired but also wide awake. it's that moment when you hate yourself the most. so i try to pin down how i feel in that moment, and i try to convey it through my work. it's not evident here. but i think my work is the saddest/happiest/just emotive when i'm feeling it the hardest.

i've read things that are meant to be sad, morbid, or deep…and sometimes they come across as ads for magazines. they're too beautiful, pristine. they're perfect in their disruption. imagery is important, and that's what i lack. but i feel when a work feels.
last edited on Sept. 12, 2016 6:16PM

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