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 577 - The Agony and the Ecstasy.

Apr 4, 2022

4 likes, 3 comments

Creation is a process with a lot of ups and downs: Agony and ecstasy! The easiest way to think of it is a simple inverted parabola- you start of feeling good about your idea and its potential. As you work though you feel worse and worse about it till you get to the nadir of the curve, then things turn around and you start feeling better and better about it as it finally comes together and you finally manage to finish it!

Episode 566 - feeling the vibe!

Jan 16, 2022

3 likes, 0 comments

Let's talk about total immersion… When consuming media rather than creating it, if you're lucky you become immersed: the struggles and fears of the character become your own. You feel for them, you care, their pain, their hunger, even their shivers and sweats, you care about the world in which they live… That can be an amazing feeling and it's pretty much WHY we really enjoy and keep consuming media. Themes, great visuals, intellectual explorations of ideas and concepts are all very well but nothing compels and excites you as much as when you really CARE what's happening. So that's what we're chatting about! Join us on Discord - https://discordapp.com/invite/7NpJ8GS

Episode 562 - the plots the themes - The space between

Dec 20, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Merry Christmas and whatever you celebrate :) Interesting topic from Banes! It's his idea that sometimes the literal elements of a story (the plot etc.) are simply too weak to properly support the theme. He gives the example of The Truman show, where the idea is that a person is living a fake life under constant surveillance as the star of one of the most popular real life TV shows ever and he doesn't know anything about it… The themes are the power of the media, commercialism, the American dream, obsession with reality TV etc. Banes felt that although these themes were very strong the practical setup of the world and story weren't quite strong enough to support it.

Episode 553 - Out of date humour?

Oct 18, 2021

3 likes, 0 comments

I was reading an article the other day about the comedy of Sacha Baron Cohen and how that style of comedy is now out of date, along with The Hangover and Hot Tub Time Machine. The idea is that the day for this sort of masculine, bawdy, sleazy humour has been and gone and that we're more advanced, sophisticated and enlightened now. Personally I took issue with this, I think this style of comedy is extremely relatable and eternal because of it. You can see examples of it going back thousands of years across all cultures because many factors of it are universal to the human cultural experience.

Episode 525 - Sexual Tension

Apr 5, 2021

5 likes, 0 comments

Sexual tension between characters is a great way to augment the conflict that drives a story. The audience really wants that to resolve into a relationship or at least an assignation of some sort… The longer it goes on though, the bigger they want the coming together to be, which can be dangerous for the creator because it's so easy to disappoint. it's usually better to resolve the tension earlier than later, OR keep it going forever but keep it interesting and don't ever sour it or make it turn stale.

Episode 524 - Empathy

Mar 28, 2021

4 likes, 0 comments

Image credit: There's Something About Mary, 20th Century Fox. Empathy is like sympathy but you don't think about it. It's what happens when you see someone get hurt and you wince in pain watching them, it's when you see a really uncomfortable moment in a sitcom like The Office and you cringe, It's when you feel sad when the characters are sad about something. Empathy is an important tool for audience immersion- if they're feeling that strongly for the characters then you've got them invested in your story! Funny story… the topic of this Quackcast was inspired by us talking about the risks of “going commando” and the fact that it can happen to women as well as men. This led us to go looking for photographic and video proof, as you do… and what we saw gave us instant empathy for the poor unfortunate. Hence the Quackcast topic ;) This week Gunwallace has given us the theme to PleaseRewind: Quiet threat, creepy, seeping, strumming, thrumbing, coming CLOSER, inside, peering around, waiting to begin. This is a quiet track filled with an undertone of urgency suggested by the constant quick rhythm and lonely guitar.

Episode 502 - Definitive character moments!

Oct 26, 2020

3 likes, 3 comments

What is the most definitive version of your character? Where does it pop up in your comic? What part of your work most defines your main character and why? What about TV, movie, comic, and story characters?


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