Episode 682 - Exposition!

Apr 8, 2024

Tantz came up with this week's topic: Exposition! It's because she's well on her way into starting her latest comic, Verdant, and working out ways to introduce the story, the world, characters, culture, magic systems, religion etc without doing a massive text dump, which people generally don't like too much. So how do you exposit in a good way?

Topics and Show Notes

One popular way is through a dialogue; characters give overly verbose and entirely unnecessary explanations about how things work during ordinary conversations, telling people things that they would already know from childhood, just so the reader can be informed in a “natural” way, which isn't natural and it actually really terrible, eg: “Hello my friend David Prowse who I have known since high school but have had a big falling out with since you slept with my wife. Could you hand me the energy cell please? Of course you know that all machines now are powered by energy cells which are miniaturised nuclear fusion reactors, so that we have unlimited, cheap power always.”

Another way is to have a character in a classroom, being taught particular concepts like history or politics so they and the reader “learn” together. This can be terrible but it can also be pretty good if you handle it right. Even text dumps can work ok if they're done correctly, but that's rare.

The best way to do exposition is to introduce the audience to only the concepts they need to know for now, in a basic way, with plenty of context in ways that are fully and easily relatable. Like showing a small, slow stakes scene that introduces key concepts and shows the character's reaction to them. If most of the stuff is easily relatable then the audience will focus more on the few isolated weird new things you introduce and they can learn about them from seeing how the characters react to them and how they fit into the context of the world, that way you don't need to explain them. A great example of this is the new comic by Marcorossi, Bunyan Mk7, it's a perfect example of quick, minimal exposition through story.

From here we started talking about how in anime often an entire first season of 13 episodes is devoted to this sort of expository introduction, which I find extremely pleasant because the focus of that kind of storytelling is not “conflict” but instead “progress”, which is something not well understood in modern storytelling anymore. The interest the audience gets from the story isn't that a character wants something or needs to fight to get it or resolve an issue, instead it's the linear consumption of knowledge that builds to the goal of finding out more about something. You specifically don't care about resolving anything, rather the learning is fun for its own sake. “Progress” can also be anything that builds towards a goal. I find people still like to rationalise this as “conflict” but you need to stretch the definition too much that it makes the concept useless and no longer logically understandable.

How do you do exposition? With a text dump? Via dialogue? A classroom? An introductory prologue? Or do you just throw the audience in the deep end and expect them to sink or swim? That said, the more familiar and relatable the story offering is, the less work on the exposition you have to do.

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme inspired by Cafe Strange - A melancholic jazz revere on times past and times yet to come. Off-time percussion, a gently plucked double bass, evocative piano and an electric violin play a tune of loneliness and possibility.

Topics and shownotes


Exposition examples in comics:
Verdant, by Tantz_Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Verdant/
Bunyan Mk7, by marcorossi - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Bunyan_Mk7

Featured comic:
Prisoner of Paint - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2024/apr/02/featured-comic-prisoner-of-paint/

Featured music:
Cafe Strange - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/Cafe_Strange/ - by Synwells, rated T.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/

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Episode 681 - Swords and armour

Apr 1, 2024

2 likes, 2 comments

Today we're talking about swords and armour, the reality of those things and their use in fiction. I've always had a bit of an interest in swords since I was a little kid because I loved them in fairy-tales, comics and fantasy: The Three musketeers, puss in boots, Zorro, the Narnia books, Robin Hood, Errol Flynn movies, King Arthur, Conan, Asterix and more. Join us on Discord - https://discordapp.com/invite/7NpJ8GS

Episode 680 - Intelligence in Fiction

Mar 25, 2024

3 likes, 0 comments

Today we're talking about the depiction of “intelligence” in fiction! There are a lot of ways this shows up: the genius detective who can understand any clue and uncover any lie, the amazing doctor who can understand any disease, the computer nerd who can do ANYTHING with computers, the genius savant with Asperger's, the crafty serial killer with plans within plans…

Episode 679 - Correlation doesn't equal causation

Mar 18, 2024

3 likes, 0 comments

The phrase “Correlation doesn't equal causation” is something associated with science and statistics but it really applies to EVERYTHING and that's important to understand. But was does it mean? If a bunch of things happened at the same time, those things aren't necessarily related or causal. An example Tantz gives is that statistics show in the summer there are more drownings and that people eat more ice cream. That means that those two things are correlated. We know they aren't causal though: ice ream doesn't drown people and people drowning don't cause people to eat more ice cream… the third hidden variable is that it's summer: it's the rise in temperature that causes people to want more ice cream and to swim more, which increases the chances of drowning.

Episode 678 - Panel order!

Mar 11, 2024

4 likes, 2 comments

Banes did a really interesting newspost about panel order and how we read comics- not just left to right or right to left but which panel flows to what and how you get the reader to go in the right direction when something isn't intuitive. We're all comic people and we host a comic site so this was perfect for us to tackle!

Episode 677 - You can't spell "Fail" without "AI"

Mar 4, 2024

2 likes, 0 comments

I remembered that a promised Quackcast was AI: slavery for artists and creators. This is an important subject to cover especially from this angle.

Episode 676 - Baby it's cold outside, cultural context

Feb 26, 2024

2 likes, 0 comments

Oh baby it's cold outside… That's a tricky song, well it's not really but a few years ago the silly pop-culture warriors on Twitter started acting as if the song was all “rapey” with the male in the song trying to pressure the woman into sex. The problem was they were absolutely ignorant of the correct cultural context in quite a misogynist way.

Episode 675 - Lurv

Feb 19, 2024

2 likes, 5 comments

It was Valentine's Day last week so let's talk about lurv. Love makes the world go round, love solves all problems, love heals all, love is eternal, love is all you need, all you need is love… Well those are all the typical and utterly meaningless pop culture platitudes but they sound good.

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