Hello and welcome to Panel by Panel, an analysis of panels from comics right here on The Duck and exploring what they do, how they work, and what we can learn from them.
This week we will check out a panel from the webcomic Phantasos by user jslongstreet. This is the very first page in the archive, in a storyline titled “The Contender.”
So, I wanted to talk about perspective in art this week and how sometimes breaking conventions is incredibly useful to comics. We know as clear back in the period of the Greeks and Romans that there was an understanding of perspective, or as the dictionary defines it, “the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.”
After that whole “Fall of the Roman Empire” thing, the knowledge of perspective was ‘lost’ until it was ‘rediscovered’ by the Italian architect and engineer Filippo Brunelleschi in the 1400s. Since then, perspective has been an important component of art for many artists because it helps to create an illusion of depth that is generally consistent with how we see the world in real life.
For many of us, perspective can signify care and attention. Sometimes it can also be a source of frustration, leading to proper perspective as a compositional focus, even in comics. But as much as proper perspective can lend a lot to a scene, breaking what is proper perspective can add a lot, too.
That is why I latched onto that page of Phantasos so quickly. The image depicts multiple horizon lines, and the clocktower on the page seems to bend on several, simultaneously being something we manage to look “up” and “down” at in the same image. It does a lot to create a sense of motion as well. It's a very off-kilter image, supplemented by the exaggeration of the landscape, including the graveyard and the hill in the foreground.
It's very stylized and dynamic and tells a story in a single image. Does it follow the traditional rules of perspective? Not at all. But rules are meant to be broken, especially in comics. Why limit yourself to tradition all the time?
But that begs the question to you, dear readers. Have you ever “cheated” perspective on purpose? Please share your links to pages where you feel like you've fudged perspective a bit for dramatic effect. I would love to see them. Going through my own archive, I can't find many examples of this sort of thing in my work. I think I may need to break some rules.
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hpkomic at 8:09AM, July 29, 2022
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