Episode 604 - Stylised reality

Oct 10, 2022

When creating fiction we always have to stylise experience in many and various ways in order to communicate with the viewer in a way that's meaningful to them because it's usually impossible to simply show them the exact reality of something and expect that same meaning to carry through.

Topics and Show Notes

A great example is a fight scene: when you're involved in a fight or close to it, it can be pretty affecting. Your body releases adrenaline, your pupils widen to take in as much as possible, your brain is on high alert so it narrows in on just the action and notices everything that it can, this makes time seem to slow and fight last much longer than it actually does. To the person involved or the close spectator everything is more dangerous, epic, and impactful. However, to a more distant viewer the fight is over in seconds, it probably seemed silly, stupid, even embarrassing and pathetic. So as a creator we have a whole bag of tricks available to us to convey the feelings of the participant or close observer to the audience- we slow down the action a LOT by making the fight last 10x times longer, we zoom in on the fighters, we zoom in on the fist that's doing the punching, we add SFX, VFX, tone and colour and a million other things.

That's just one example, most of reality has to be stylised in various ways in order for it to translate to a viewer in the way the creator intends. And we have many ways of doing this, some more extreme than others. Musicals for example are highly stylised but the singing and dancing is generally not just for show, it communicates meaning just like the rest of the less flamboyant parts of the story. Even something like a documentary, reality TV or a sports broadcast have to stylise reality in a way to more effectively communicate and engage with viewers; through camera angles, clever editing, cutting etc. Pretty much nothing is simply presented as is.

This is the reason I defend the art of Rob Liefeld: objectively it does not depict reality, he puts giant shoulder-pads on characters, too many pouches in silly places, too many teeth in grins, broken backed bum-popping women, huge nonsense guns that are just random assemblages of tubes with a handle and trigger, anatomy that has only a passing acquaintance with the human form- And yet it's not what the art shows, it's about what it evokes in its communication with the viewer. The bum-popping women mean “sex appeal”, huge guns mean destructive potential, giant should-pads equal power and strength, pouches equal action, toothy grins mean determination of purpose. All these things communicate directly with the viewer without having to be spelled out, and in the 1990s that was very successful for him!

I think it's very important to understand the stylisations we have to learn to use in order to properly translate our meanings to our audiences. Not just for comics but for books, movies, plays etc. Reality is never presented directly, not even in news broadcasts or 3D VR, or security footage, it's always stylised and modified in some way.

This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to AGENCY - High up in a helicopter, swooping in over a vast metropolis. Endless rows of buildings fly by underneath. Sophistication, towering glass skyscrapers, vast canyons of concrete and steel… It’s music for the big, cold city. Pulsing 80s synth tracks.


Topics and shownotes

Featured comic:
Drunk Duck Awards 2022 - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/oct/04/featured-comic-drunk-duck-awards-2022/

Featured music:
AGENCY - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/AGENCY/. - by JediAnn Solo, rated T.

Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
PIT FACE - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/

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Episode 506 - The fightcast

Nov 22, 2020

4 likes, 0 comments

Today we chat about fight scenes! This was spurred by a post in our forums about how bad fight choreography can spoil a film. Our Patron vid was mainly about fights in our comics, while the Quackcast is more about fights in movies. One of the things about REAL fights is that they're usually very fast, ugly, stupid looking, and not very exciting. It's important to remember that boxers and UFC fighters are entertainers and sports people, those people are performing for an audience - their fights are real but they're designed to be showy and exciting, whereas true fighting on the street or in war etc is very different, it's more deadly and more stupid looking.

Episode 493 - Use existing IP to explore new things?

Aug 24, 2020

3 likes, 0 comments

First up… HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO TANTZ! This Quackcast is about the topic of whether it's right to change an established character just to fit with the ideas and styles of a new creator or change them in accordance with an idea or political position you want to explore, OR should you instead create a whole new character or story to do that with? Bane's newspost gave the example of the ersatz justice league created for The Boys, where Homelander =/= Superman. The series was made to look at the dark side of superheros, but it doesn't ruin established and much loved heroes to do that…

Episode 480 - In Style!

May 25, 2020

6 likes, 2 comments

Styles are a very individual thing. Emma Clare did a great newspost on them last week featuring a pic of Sailor Moon that she drew in her own style. The cover image here features my own version. Pit, Tantz, Banes and I had a good long chat about all the different aspects of style and how you develop them.

Episode 325 - walk the line

May 29, 2017

3 likes, 1 comment

In this Quackcast we cover the Importance of good linework in comics and different line techniques such as Herge's Ligne claire, the traditional thick line for characters and thin for everything else as exemplified in the work of Mucha, variable line widths as in Manga, solid blacks like in American comics, and complex lines like Durer or Hyena Hell. I really seriously thought I could get an entire Quackcast out of the concept and techniques of linework, but honestly I was struggling… Okay, so linework constitutes the skeleton that most comics are built on, with the notable exception of painted comics, photo comics, 3D and vector comic among others… But for most comics line is a pretty essential element. There are a lot of different techniques involved in the use of lines. Herge popularised “ligne claire”, which means that all lines have the same thickness and that there's no line shading. A popular style that I was taut was to have thick lines around characters and overlapping elements, with thin lines for internals and backgrounds. This is popular in a lot of manga, US comics and famously the work of Alphonse Mucha. Part of my technique on Pinky TA involves making my lines grey, so that when I set the line layer to “multiply”, the lines take on some of the background colours beneath them and don't show up as darkly as traditional black lines. The work of Hyena Hell on the Hub is interesting for her use of very complex internal shading line to build up texture and shapes, this can also be seen in the works of Albrecht Durer. Manga is notable for its extensive use of very stylised shading, crisp lines and the use of variable line widths for outlines, while American comics make heavy use of solid blacks for areas of shadow, basically extending the width of the line as far and as solidly as it can go. How do YOU approach your linework? The music for this week by Gunwallace is for The Wallachian Library. It's a dark, black future sounds, neon glows, pulses of energy and ideas, vectors and virtual circuits.Sorry, no link to this comic, the user deleted it from the site.

Episode 254 - Sexism in your OWN work?k

Jan 18, 2016

2 likes, 0 comments

OMFG you sexist PIG! Heh… today we talk about trying to recognise sexism in your OWN work, what to do about it, and WHY. It turns out it can be very hard to do, and if you DO acknowledged it the instinct is to rationalise it away, justify it, or just try and brazen it out in some kind of old fashioned, largely embarrassing, display. I frequently do all three. How do we spot it? Well the Bechdel test isn't that useful, that's better for looking at broad trends not giving specific works a pass/fail - sexy outfits is one thing, if females are dressed minimally or in tight gear in CONTRAST to the males or vice versa - females ONLY having old stereotype roles (maiden/mother/whore archetypes, secretary, nurse, victim, maid etc), though this is context sensitive, i.e. it's more forgiveable if you're doing a historical story or something stylised like a fairytale or a noire story - Gender balance is another thing, it's context sensitive because certain stories will naturally have more of one gender (WW2 submarine crew, Girl's school, a prison story etc), and you don't have to have an exact balance anyway but it's definitely something to THINK about because there is no reason most stories should feature a majority of male characters and a minority of females. WHY should you think about it? Why should you care? Well the audience for almost ALL types of stories, be they action adventure, romance, Scifi, fantasy, historical, even porn, is getting close to 50/50 between men and women these days (maybe it always was?), it really doesn't make sense to alienate or belittle half your audience just because you like to cling to older ways of doing stuff. Gunwallace's theme this week reminds me of a cross between the Knightrider theme and Gunship- it's VERY retro-future. It's the theme to DDSR, a comic with cool custom “sprites”, AKA pixel-art.

Episode 205 - What about bodyshape?

Feb 9, 2015

6 likes, 6 comments

This week Banes and I were inspired to talk about body shape in the depiction of figures in comics, inspired by some famous images from photographer Howard Schatz's 2002 book, Athlete. In it there are photos of many athletes who're at the peak of their sports and yet their bodyshapes are vastly different, subverting the idea of an "ideal" bodyshape or what it means to be a top athlete or even fit. too often bodyshapes in comics follow a very narrow range, not getting much past what we think of as the current popculture ideal. We all know that idealised model shape is a problem and yet we all still perpetuate it, most of the time you can only tell most "realistic" characters apart by their hairstyle or costume, especially in superhero comics. And that invents a second problem: the myth of the "normal" shaped body as opposed to the ideal- there IS no such thing as normal, and even the ideal is always changing throughout the ages. There's even a lot more to body shape than the famous categories: Mesomorph, Ectomorph, and Endomorph, or Skinny, Pear, Athletic, Hourglass and Apple. We also have a beif mention of how stylised characters (Sponge Bob, Calvin and Hobbes etc) are exaggerations of these shapes and differences.


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