this picture is only somewhat related to tone…but it has a costumed baby!
In my early days doing the Quackcast with Ozoneocean, we spent some time talking about story genres. I remember how we ignored whether something was a comedy, drama, or horror, because those aren't stories, but tones.
Other than our yearly October immersions into horror, I don't think we've ever touched on tone since that early 'Cast.
Tone is sort of the “emotional territory” that a story, series, or scene lives in. This is important stuff, because knowing what a scene or story feels like is what's going to matter to readers and audiences.
Actually, I find that most of the comics I read on the Duck, if not all of them, are pretty solid, tone wise. People seem to know what they're doing. It's probably an instinctive thing much of the time; I know it usually is for me.
Starting off right is pretty important. The first few pages of a comic sets the stage for the characters and setting, but also for the tone.
If the comic is a bleak, depressing drama, that should be set up in the opening sequence. If it's a fun, comedic adventure, ditto. The opening sequence of Back to the Future was perfect for that film. Ditto the emo, music-obsessed coming of age High Fidelity. Raiders of the Lost Ark did it great, as did JAWS and Halloween.
Of course, the opening scene doesn't mean an entire series needs to feel the same; X-Men Days of Future Past starts out much more grimly than it ends - but there is a gravity to the whole thing because of that bleak opening, and it ties into the theme. After a disturbing opening scene, Unforgiven becomes quite comedic when we first meet the hero. Then it gets quite dark by the end.
But those tonal shifts have to be made carefully, to avoid mood whiplash!
I remember spending a long time working out how I should start my first Typical Strange animation. Starting the comic a couple years after took some effort, too, though not as much since I knew the characters and had a feel for the tone by then. I kept it dryly comedic, with some movie talk, which is pretty much the tone of the entire series. It gets a little goofy here and a little melancholy there, but overall it's a fairly specific emotional landscape.
Do you think about tone? What is the tone of your comic? Like I said, I find the comic creators here are quite good at having a consistent tone.
Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 26, 2015
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