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FRIDAY NEWSPOST - Inner Turmoil in Comics

HippieVan at 12:00AM, Oct. 17, 2014

Comics are a great medium for action-heavy stories, but showing inner conflict without massive walls of text can be difficult. The other day I picked up a very disappointing graphic novel version of “Frankenstein” - it read like an illustrated summary of the book, not reflecting any of the angst and terror present in the original. Truth be told, very little actually happens in the original Frankenstein; the story is largely based on characters who are torn apart inwardly.

I got to thinking about some of my favourite dramatic comics. How do they depict inner turmoil without resorting to massive speech bubbles, or long speeches expressing their emotions to other characters? One method seems to be the use of atmosphere. I have some great illustrated Edgar Allen Poe and Kafka stories that use dark, distorted illustrations to give the story a certain ‘feel.’ What the original authors used words to describe, these illustrators capture perfectly through drawings.

One advantage of comics is that a creator can force an experience on a reader, often to an even greater extent than they could do through words alone. If a character is horrified at something, that thing can be shown in all its terrifying reality. The creator projects a certain emotion onto the reader, instantly allowing them to empathize with the character.

What are you favourite angsty comics? What techniques do they use to show inner turmoil? Comment below!


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Stellar has just finished her comic Lucid Haze, and has begun a new one called Ink!

From Stellar:
“Lucid Haze began as a nightmare, and became a practice comic influenced by MCR. It's a lesbian apocalyptic romance. Four years later, I'm proud of it's completion.
I have a new project, Ink. Lovecraftian inspired horror. It's far better planned out and will be given much more attention than LH was.”

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tupapayon at 12:07PM, Oct. 19, 2014

There's one technique I find at the same time amusing in and annoying: the author writes down a word by a character (sad, fearful, happy, etc)... Most times that can b inferred through reaction, expressions (facial)... It can be funny but many times it feels cheap... Unless the character is wearing a mask or something...

Banes at 10:53AM, Oct. 18, 2014

Maybe it goes to that same "show don't tell" principle that applies to all writing. If we can see the context of the characters' turmoil, and if facial expression/'camera' angles are used well, and we SEE the characters reacting based on their inner conflicts, we readers can be affected emotionally.

Banes at 10:52AM, Oct. 18, 2014

Great insights, Hip! Very interesting topic. I was a big fan of Marvel Comics when I was a kid/teen, especially the various X-Men titles. They were an angst-heavy crew (Marvel heroes in general were full of angst). They used a lot of thought bubbles, with a lot of text, but the good ones spaced out the text throughout the story. I remember a story about Cyclops from the X-Men, where he was hunted by the Master Mold (a giant mutant hunting Sentinel). Throughout the battle, Cyclops was looking for his missing wife, and tormented by thoughts that his lifelong mission as a mutant soldier had ruined his life. He also fears he's losing his mind. As I recall, his thought bubbles were spaced out throughout the story, and he also had conversations/arguments with an imaginary Professor X (a staple technique of TV as well). It was a powerful story, at least I thought so at the time, and the inner turmoil reached a climax along with the outer conflict. It was "X-Factor" #14.

Ozoneocean at 7:42AM, Oct. 18, 2014

This is a great idea for a future Quackcast Hippie!

KimLuster at 7:08AM, Oct. 17, 2014

Hmmmm... tough! I don't read that many comics, preferring graphics novels or the occasional trade paperback. One story I've following is 'Lazarus'. Set in a near future dystopia, powerful families have taken the place of nations. Most families have a 'Lazarus', a powerful warrior, created by technology, very enhanced physically, almost unkillable. The story centers on a Lazarus named 'Forever', who is part of the Carlyle family. She believes she is actually a member of the family (it's a loyalty insurance thing), and deadly intrigue is working in the family, catching her in the middle, and she's also starting to learn she might be a 'created thing' - pretty good stuff!

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