Monday, November 2, 2009
I don't generally suggest copy/pasting backgrounds to comic artists because it makes them look lazy and if the artist betrays the trust of the reader that they're trying to do the best they can at all times, then they usually lose them. The reader might not put the book down in disgust but on some level they're pushed out of the story and they start instead to inspect the artist in his cutting corners.
However there are some advantages. First of all, the reader will read the page faster, focusing on what changes from panel to panel and disregarding what stays the same. This is what you do in real life when you talk to someone, you look at his mouth and body language and what's moving around him and you're interpreting this stuff as a priority. The rest you keep a subconscious secondary watch on, and if something changes, you take account of it also. So static backgrounds have the ability to 'ground' a scene and make the reader use his real-world faculties when reading. This might seem like a banal point to make but it really isn't. Often comics make the reader use completely surreal ways of interpreting movement, space and time (and that is one of their strengths) but sometimes all of that is too extravagant for what the creator needs. I don't want to use wild dolly shots and stuff here. I don't want the viewpoint to be non-standard (meaning, toad's view or eagle's view) I want us, the viewers, to be participatory in a voyeuristic sense. We are looking at the sofa, sitting girl eye-level. We are there and we are listening in on their conversation.
Another aspect that makes this page faster to read is the uniformity of the rendering style. You'll notice that there is a style drift in this chapter (when it's finished, at least) but it happens more on a page-by-page basis than on a panel by panel one. The reasons for this will be apparent later on.
There are visual clues in this chapter for the attentive reader that foreshadow... well, I don't really need to say this again,there's always visual clues in all the pages that foreshadow everything.