These past few days in Greece we’ve had torrential rains that feel like the prelude to a second Flood- terrible casualties included. And that got me thinking that it rarely rains in webcomics.
Usually the weather is dry in sequential art- perhaps because it’s troublesome to draw characters and settings wet, and depicting rainfall can make a panel look messy or busy… but rain, if used well, has a ton of uses in both storytelling, character depiction and of course mood (as any respectable noir comic or movie will attest to).
Rain can be a tool for the plot as well as the characters: When it rains, the senses are dulled (especially hearing and vision, the heavier the rain, the more limited the senses) and thus it can serve as a plot device- characters may not perceive what they normally would, or they may make mistakes where they normally wouldn’t (for example, when driving). Rain might throw off the timing or place of an attack, or a journey, or a meeting. It might destroy evidence.
On the other hand, how a character handles rain and activities that need to be done in the rain can show/display aspects of his/her personality for the audience: a character that rushes out into torrential rain without thinking may be foolhardy or irresponsible; given certain contexts, he/she may be emotionally distressed and display it by rushing in the rain even though they’re actually being stoic in terms of expression or dialogue.
Rain can of course also set the tone or reflect the emotions of the characters or the state of things: that’s why the scene of a funeral procession in the rain is so typical. It might also reflect turbulence, or the obstacle that a character is facing, be it emotional, mental or strategic. It can even range from sexy to spiritually cleansing depending on how the scene is set up.
Compare the tone of these frames from Mulan and how the very same rain acquires different tone in conjunction to Mulan’s body language and it becomes the agent of transformation for her, washing away her previous self for the new one to emerge:
Rain can also be used to offset a character’s emotional state by contradiction- the famous dance number in the musical “Singin’ in the Rain” does exactly that: the main character is in love and happy, and in stark contrast with the weather and every other passerby.
So, use the weather, get your characters wet. Something is bound to come out of it.
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 18, 2017
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