In another installment of Neil Cohn's continuing series Comic Theory 101, Cohn puts word balloons, thoughts balloons and panels under the microscope and concludes that they're all essentially the same animal -- one that has the function of encapsulating other information.
This month Neil Cohn presents another essay in his series of features on comics as visual language. This article delves into the notion of "what is poetic" in visual language. Poems reflect the language they are written in. If we conceive of comics as a language then there should be particular poetic "forms" that innately reflect comics as visual language. What is Visual Language's answer to English's sonnet? Read on for Cohn's answer.
In his latest exploration of visual language, Neil Cohn sketches in rhyme. Can two comic panels "rhyme"? Can we translate the notion of rhyming into an effective part of the visual language used by comic creators?
How is that your brain can receive two identical signals in the same context yet identify them as two different things? It's not science fiction! Neil Cohn examines the linguistic "Problem of Two" as applied in the context of comics.
A short visual language pop quiz! Professor Neil wants you to show your work so be sure to participate in the comments discussion after reading.
One of the most famous theories that Scott McCloud set forth in Understanding Comics was that of "closure." He stated that this was the phenomenon by which people's minds "fill in" what occurs between two comic panels. Now, in other writings of mine, I've argued that any linear panel-to-panel explanation of how people understand sequences of images has multiple problems. However, in this piece, I'd like to take aim at one particular example of McCloud's and use it to illuminate a broader phenomenon that occurs in both visual and verbal expression.
In one of my previous articles for Comixpedia I spoke of the hierarchic structuring of the comic industry and alternative viewpoints to democratize those hierarchies. I asserted that change cannot flow top-down from corporations controlling the industry or from technological innovation, but rather from a reorientation about the conceptions of the medium. This piece explores one way that we as individuals can potentially alter the perception and organization associated with this medium: through vocabulary. People associate with the world greatly through the words they use, and different expressions can largely determine the way in which they relate to concepts. Thus, by reframing the vocabulary associated to "comics" we can alter the perceptions and considerations that they create in our culture. This issue is by no means new to comics, though the approach taken here will develop a deeper and more expansive solution than those proposed in the past.
Sometimes, when people hear my proposal that the "comics medium" is literally a visual language (VL), I receive a response of disbelief stating something like, "What, do you expect people to carry around little pads of paper so they can 'talk' in comic form?" Statements like this bring up an important aspect of language that is essential to address in visual language studies: the social and interactive role of language. Throughout this article, I will address how the role of social interactivity with regard to comics contributes to a further understanding of visual language.
In the first part of this essay, I discussed the ways in which the comic industry is pervaded by aristocratic structures that prohibit a vast diversification and democratization of publishing, content, and production. In this section, I will turn to examine the democratic structures that work against these existing hierarchies.
My latest graphic book with author Thom Hartmann, We the People, focuses on the pervasive influence that mega-corporations have on American government, and now I would like to look at a similar situation in comics.