Dec 17, 2010

Comic Book Glossary: Transitions, Part 2

Welcome to a new installment of Comic Book Glossary! One of the aims of the Comics Cube! has always been to help out the newer readers who may be interested in, but aren't all that knowledgeable in comics, and one thing everyone needs to know if they're interested are the terms. Click here for the index!

Last week, we talked about the three most often-used transition types in comics. Now, we'll look at the other three transition types that aren't so widely used.

The moment-to-moment transition is like action-to-action, except that it comprises more moments and shows the action slower. So, for example, where an action-to-action transition may show a guy about to throw a punch in one panel and actually throwing the punch the next, the moment-to-moment transition would show each stage of the punch being thrown. Here's an example from Alex Toth's rare Batman work. From a certain perspective, this may look like action-to-action, but consider that most artists would probably omit the third panel, and it becomes moment-to-moment.

The aspect-to-aspect transition is one where a bunch of panels take place in one given moment. In this one-pager by Art Spiegelman ("Don't Get Around Much Anymore"), he shows a person's apartment and the various things in it. Each panel takes place in the same moment as the one before, and with this technique, he shows us the entire apartment unit. (On a side note, take note of the fact that each caption refers to the previous panel, which causes some disorientation.)

These two transition types are seen rarely in American and European comics, but very often in Japanese comics. A part of the reason is that manga is just typically produced in larger products than American and European comics, but another reason is just cultural. Western culture is very goal-oriented, while Japanese culture very much emphasizes the journey over the destination. Here's an example from Osamu Tezuka's SWALLOWING THE EARTH, which could be either moment-to-moment or aspect-to-aspect, dependingon whether or not time is passing within these panels.

The final transition type is the one least-used, pretty much anywhere and by anyone. This is the non-sequitur, where the panels in sequence don't have any sort of logical connection. This is used mainly usually in experimental comics, and quite honestly, the only comic I can think of that actually uses it to service a longer narrative is the adaptation of PAUL AUSTER'S CITY OF GLASS, by Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli. In this sequence, Peter Stillman is narrating the backstory of the book. Stillman's not exactly all right in the head, and Karasik (who did layouts) and Mazzucchelli (who actually drew it) expressed this by attributing his speech to various non-sequitur materials.

I'd be hard-pressed to think what else the non-sequitur could be used for.

These definitions are, once again, from Scott McCloud's UNDERSTANDING COMICS!

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