Aug 19, 2010

Comics Techniques and Tricks: Steve Ditko (with Andy Kubert and Marcos Martin)

Welcome to another edition of Comics Techniques and Tricks, in which we showcase techniques that only comics can do! Click here for the archive!

So, remember the previous edition of Comics Techniques and Tricks that featured Rick Veitch's Greyshirt: Indigo Sunset? No? Go!

Are you back yet? Anyway, in it is a trick where he uses paintings to reflect what's going on in the main narrative. While not exactly the same thing, I did notice a similar trick used by Andy Kubert and Marcos Martin, in which they used pop art to account for the sound effects.

Here's a panel from Batman #656, dated October 2006, written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Andy Kubert (this trick recurs throughout the issue, since the entire issue takes place in a pop art exhibit):

Interestingly, if this tells us anything, it's that sound effects really are temporary.
The second panel clearly just treats it like an image. The sound of "blam" has come and gone
from our consciousness already, and we just see it as an image instead of hear it as an effect.

And here's a riff on Roy Lichtenstein's Whaam painting, by Marcos Martin in Amazing Spider-Man #560, written by Dan Slott and dated July 2008:

Whaam, by Roy Lichtenstein

The original panel Lichtenstein stole, from All-American Men of War, by Irv Novick
Dan Slott and Marcos Martin find a use for hack work, Amazing Spider-Man #560

I was wondering if this was a recent trick, and today I found out that it was not, thanks to Dial B for Blog. In Beware the Creeper #2, by the one and only Steve Ditko and dated August 1968, we see the following sequence:

Interestingly, this is the complete opposite of the Batman example.
In this one, the effects are seen as images first, and then our brain
processes them as sounds as they correspond with the action.
In comics, sound and picture are the same thing, and our brain
automatically does the processing.

I think we can safely assume that this is the first time the technique was used, since such sound effects, or even the use of artwork with words in them (pop art or no pop art) were not widespread and popular until the mid- to late 60s.

It's a trick best used sparingly, but one would think we'd have seen more of it in the forty years since its debut!

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