Monday, May 18, 2009


My english is pretty sketchy. Sadly, I can't follow as I would like every discussiona and ideas that are developped here. It all seems very interesting.

I got interested by abstract comics in 1987, after an Art Course at the Université Laval, in Québec. My teachers loved the american conceptual art, and of course abstractness in painting. Comics were rather frowned upon and misunderstood.
It's especially when I read a page by Loulou & Kiki Picasso, in the pages of an issue of the Bazooka magazine, that revolved around experimental comics that I thought I should push things further. The result was the page Parcours, of wich Andreï posted an extract at the beginning of this blog. I was more inclined towards representation in comics, this page was a radical version of what I was usually doing. I hadn't planned on going further in that radical direction, thinking I would continue to develop these ideas within my current works.
For me, this work can be found in most comics authors, who develop it with more or less talent. A few are pristinely aware of that, like Lorenzo Mattotti or Alberto Breccia. (the first has published an important book around the same time as I did this page in '87, the other is an utterly important veteran).

About the Loulou & Kiki Picasso expermiment that I mentionned earlier, I though it was a little cold, although very interesting. In a single page of multiples close up frames, it presented a surgical operation. There was no angle variation, no climax, no suspense.

It was pretty clear to me that this was abstraction, or at least an attempt at abstraction (from a storytelling viewpoint). A relatively logical progression of action. I thought that, even with those elements removed, something survived, something that's specific to comics. I thought that our medium had to somehow distinguish itself from a series of abstract images, like, let's say Andy Warhols' Marylin faces, that just don't "work" for me as comics. It's a series of images, independant from each other, with no other link than the medium. I don't see it as comics in any other way than something to ponder about.
Comics go futher, or offer something else. It's a system like interdependant words in a text, it involves reading. Again, it can be created with or without talent, with or without awareness. By the way, I really like the coined term Sequential Art. It's really accurate, and a good alternative to comics or BD.
This is what I wanted to exacerbate in Parcours. Working with nothing else than shapes, the subtle ballet of elements. A kind of music.

I'd like to point out some basic notions about comics :

A) A comic panel is read quickly. If I have a big book to read, I don't have the time (or interest, it would be another experience altogether) to decipher each image. It has to be understood pretty instantly to allow fluid reading.
B) Usually, in a panel there is about one or two, or more, center of interests, that the eye will be directed to. In figuration, it can be a face, a fist, anything. In the Parcours extract shown here, it's simply a black dot. One just has to follow it from one panel to the other. It's a place in the image wehere the eye is focalized.

C) From reading each panel is generated what I call a movement effect, in a way similar to animation. With the notable difference that in animation, there is an actual illusion of movement involved that relies on the phenomenon of retinal persistance. Only a certain quantity of images per millisecond can be processed by the retina, resulting in a near-perfect illusion of movement.

There. From the skillful (or not) orchestration of these three elements is created a certain rhythm. Music, made of writing and images. Those movements can also be comprised in the same image, as shown above.

It is not necessary to understand the mechanics to produce it (ultimately, understanding it too well can be even an obstacle). This ballet technique can be aquired by simply reading comics regularly like I did from the time I was a little kid.

I may read this movement effect in a more acute way than most, but to me, that's what's specific to comics and sequential art.

Happy blog !

Benoit Joly

Further reading:
Feux, by Lorenzo Mattotti
Le coeur révélateur, adapted from a short story by Edgard Allan Poe, by Alberto Breccia.

Thank to Jimmy Beaulieu for english translation (bj).

1 comment:

  1. I Think this time i let this text here Andreï. Thank's for understanding.


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