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Panel By Panel: 'The Sparks TAB' and The Visual Reference

hpkomic at 2:26PM, Oct. 6, 2023

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Panel by Panel, a periodic exploration of comic panels around The Duck.

So, as I was flipping through comics here on the Duck as inspiration for a post, I stumbled onto a page from a particular comic with two panels that pulled a familiar reference and got quite a chuckle out of me. This comic was The Sparks TAB, by, well, TheSparksTAB. Specifically, I was looking at the update S1 EP9: “Fantastic Follies” (Page 38).

Let's look at the panels in question.

The two panels here evoke a certain meme'd moment over the years, but it's how it does that that I find most interesting.

I am unsure how directly these two panels are referencing the meme or even if they intended to do so. There are some key differences. For example, the sunglasses are worn the whole page rather than being put on as part of the punchline. I can't even be sure if the choice here is deliberate. Is the creator making a conscious effort to evoke this ancient meme, or is it a bit that is so embedded into our cultural DNA that we can't help but reference the imagery and archetype against our wills?

Mechanically speaking, it's also a well-done pair of panels in how it uses two genuine beats that create an intensity undercut by the pun. It's just very funny to me from the angles of timing, the imagery itself, and the combination of intensity and release.

As the reader, it could also be me foisting my meme literacy here on the work of a creator who wasn't deliberating trying to tap into that cultural item. At this point, it's hard to tell. It's amazing how you can overthink an association.

One thing is for sure. They sure took that joke… panel by panel.

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PaulEberhardt at 1:57AM, Oct. 7, 2023

Maybe it's because I'm not very meme literate, but I know this CSI Miami sunglasses thing, and I don't think this is meant as a reference to it. That guy doesn't take the trouble to put the sunglasses on and off, and there is no YEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!! However the whole thing instantly reminded me of something different that has more to do with cultural DNA. I may be wrong, but I think this particular way of using an extreme zoom-in to a one-eye shot for accentuation must have existed since the dawn of using zoom lenses in movies and used countless times in psychological thrillers, horror and whatnot. (I'm still wracking my brain about famous examples, though, or non-famous ones for that matter. All I know is I'm almost 95% sure this must exist somewhere.)

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