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Archive for November 26th, 2011

By Bob Clark

One of the great strengths of the comics medium that I’ve belabored upon is how any given panel on a page can stand on its own as a frozen moment in time, building sequences of linear action and non-sequitor stream of consciousness through static snapshots rather than the fluid, flowing continuities of motion pictures. As such, in a well conceived and executed graphic novel, every single image carries a heavy significance to it, remaining on its page and in the reader’s attention for as long as they wish to rest upon it. This gives the timespan of comics a subjective dimension– moments that take mere seconds in a story can be stretched out to minutes or hours if a viewer wishes to dwell there– and it makes the way that works of graphic fiction that deal explicitly with our experiences in time both present and past somewhat more unnerving. There’s perhaps no medium where flashbacks are more natural, where one’s experience of reading is already akin to leafing through the pages of a photo-album, all those pictures laid out just like comics panels (in a sense one could insist that they are a form of comics, themselves). As such, it makes telling a work dedicated to the secrets and lies of a person’s past that much more interesting an endeavor, and there’s few places to compare and contrast the way in which the medium holds advantage over others than in the case of the graphic novel A History of Violence and its film adaptation.

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