Monday, 22 October 2012

Eye On Hawkeye #3

Or my apparently regular feature gushing about Matt Fraction and David Aja's Hawkeye because this book is perfect.

Okay, so many *SPOILERS* to follow.

The boomerang arrow bookend gag was amazing, the use of (and draftsmanship of) Hawkeye's trick arrows was great, and the choice of vintage cars for the main action sequence (Dodge challenger, numbered Minis, and Volkswagen beetle) were inspired. Oh, and Hawkblocking.

But what I want to highlight is some of the panel layouts used during the car chase scenes.

Chase Layout. Aja, Fraction, Hollingsworth.
Pretty much every page in the main car chase used the same panel structure (above): five page-wide panels stacked down the page with a few small square panels superimposed with arrow diagrams or close ups of key action moments. These represent 5 pages out of 20 story pages, and occupy 5 of 8 car chase pages (one of the exceptions is the book open semi-splash and one I'll talk about). Only the car chase scenes use this layout and all the static parts (below) have panels that split the page horizontally and follow a more "normal" grid.

Static Layout. Hawkblocking. Aja, Fraction, Hollingsworth.
This is a ridiculously smart use of page layout. The wide panels instantly imply horizontal distance and movement, and the lower panel count stops visual breaks and makes for a quicker, more kinetic read. But it's even smarter than that. You'll notice the details are spread out across the panel, with word/narration balloons scrunched at the edges. This forces the readers eyes to swing across  each panel which imparts ACTUAL MOVEMENT to the readers experience of the car chase. Not only that, but the page-wide swings feel like careening across the page, like cars weaving through traffic, barely in control around the street. Compared to the conventional layouts of the static scenes the reader just experiences these pages as fast and dangerous and car-chasey.

But wait! There's more.

So we have this established, repetitive layout for the car base that FEELS fast, and since the reader sees it over and over, begins to feel faster.

And then Clint jumps onto another car...

Chase layout. Aja, Fraction, Hollingsworth.
... And things get chaotic and the whole established car chase structure breaks apart in a crash...

Breaking the layout. Aja, Fraction, Hollingsworth
... That feels, due to the break with layout, like a flurry of random motion and an abrupt, bone-crunching stop.

David Aja is fanatastic and I absolutely love this book.

1 comment:

  1. Yup. Brilliant, all of it. I find myself counting the days till the next issue.