Friday, 19 June 2015

Worshipping The Wicked And The Divine #11

Or a look at presenting a reveal in WicDiv #11
by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles; Image Comics

The Wicked and The Divine is a comic that I fined endlessly fascinating. It presents a compelling, textured story about pop culture and mythology, fame and creativity that is depicted with some aggressively interesting comics. It's also a comic that fearlessly delivers a fresh and surprising experience, which in a world of slow moving, safe storytelling is a pretty precious commodity.

This current post is going to be about layout and surprise deployment, and it is made out of *SPOILERS*. If you haven't read up to WicDiv #11, DO NOT read on in this post.

Last time around I mentioned I had a theory about how WicDiv might end. Given the events of WicDiv #11, it's safe to say that I was completely wrong.  Which is really cool: it's a pretty rare thing in fiction to be thoroughly and completely surprised and WicDiv #11 managed to kick the chair out not once, but twice. And, as is becoming routine for my experience with The Wicked and The Divine, I'm pretty fascinated in some of the choices the creative team makes while deploying these surpises.

Which is mostly me just vamping so that I can say again: There are *SPOILERS* here, please go away now if you aren't up to date. 

The above page represents the larger of the two reveals in WicDiv #11 and I love the choice of page layout here. This is a *reveal* shot, a big dramatic moment meant to be deployed in a perfectly paced burst for shock factor and maximal emotional effect. I feel like the conventional wisdom is to frame these kinds of shots as splash pages with a single image splayed out over an entire page or double page spread. The logic being, as far as I can tell, that the bigger the story importance the bigger the story space devoted to the moment. While WicDiv #11 does have a large image spread over a single page, it's brilliantly chopped into three panels that do not quite line up completely. And this is fantastic comics.

I think what makes this so effective is that it manages to significantly change the pace of the moment while still giving it space to be impactful. The use of single core image spread over the page manages to replicate the scale effects of a splash page by giving the reader a large, significant picture to contend with. It is, in the language of comics conventions, a big deal. But by breaking the image into panels, this moment is also stretched out. Rather than being a single burst, the moment reveals itself ever so slightly slower, making this moment yawn horribly on the page. The multi-panel approach also has the added benefit of emphasizing aspects of the underlying image: the grim, bloodstained face of Ananke, and then her clenched and bloodied fists, and finally the burning corpse of her victim. Which actually feeds back into the more gradual reveal: as a reader we experience the bloody clues of the image before the final, horrific reveal in the final panel letting this moment grow with each new piece of information. What I collectively love about this page is that it provides space for the reader to have realization dawn, to have the hope for a different twist quashed, and time for the reader to reconcile that yes, yes that crazy fucking thing just happened. It's a perfect comics moment.

It's amazing how much seemingly small comics choices can reverberate as dramatic storytelling effects.

It's also amazing that I can clearly say I have no fucking clue what comes next.

WicDiv #1 and popart head-splosions
WicDiv #2 and the use of black-space
WicDiv #3 and character design

WicDiv #4 and body language 

WicDiv#5 and facial acting

WicDiv #6 and possessions as character
WicDiv #7 and the power of lettering
WicDiv #8 and the disorienting layout
WicDiv #9 and the economics of design

WicDiv #10 and powers as character design

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