Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Listening to Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #5

Or a look at active backgrounds and smart layouts in Phonogram: TIG #5
by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles

The thing about comics storytelling is that as readers we often get sucked in to the big exciting storytelling. The glorious splash pages! The crazy, deconstructionist, genre-bending layout we've never seen before! The totally rad super punch! But sometimes the smartest or most interesting parts of comics are quiet, deceptively simple constructions that effortlessly convey a more mundane chunk of story. And some of these moments are really worth examining as a lesson of savvy comics.

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl has one of these deceptively simple, great bit of comics.

There will be *SPOILERS* for Phonogram: TIM #5 below.

The story of this page is pretty simple: David Kohl, the sometime ally and friend of Emily Astor goes to the other phonomancers of his coven to try and recruit them into helping save Emily from herself. He delivers a his speech over and over to each potential ally, and they each, in turn, decide not to help him and that Emily Astor can essentially go and fuck herself. It's a pretty simple bit of story.

The thing is, it's delivered in the absolutely perfect way. We get to see Kohl give his talk in one unbroken sequence, and then, in a series of snapshots we get the reactions. Which... if you stop and think about it, should seem like a really disjointed bit of story: a long talk followed by a careening series of scene changes. And yet, these two pages relate so well, that it feels like an organic whole.

What I think makes this pair of pages work as well is how layout, setting, and colour work to obviously pair panels on either page. The two pages have identical six panel structures, that gives them, when viewed next to each other, common feeling and the potential for an interwoven story. In this situation then, the distinctive backgrounds and unique colouring palettes, become active storytelling elements that inform the reader how the panels on the left and right pages relate. It's this flawless fusion of layout and setting to create an effortless sequence that is logistically very complex. It's so well done, that I'm almost willing to bet you missed just how cool these pages are. 

So I Read Phonogram: Rue Britainia
So I Read Phonogram: The Singles Club

Deep Sequencing: Phonogram: TIM#3: Magical layouts

Deep Sequencing: Phono-Infogram: Plot Maps
Deep Sequencing: Phono-Infogram: Timeline

Deep Sequencing: Phono-Infogram: Setting

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