Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Deep Sequencing: Injection Volume 1

Or a look at my favourite storytelling in Injection Volume 1
by Warren Ellis, Declan Shavley, Jordie Bellaire, and Fonograficks; Image Comics

I really like Injection. Unfortunately, I read the first trade for the series shortly before my life became the most busy and the update schedule of Atoll Comics was greatly reduced. Which means I've never sat down and written about some of the really cool comics going on here. Well today this changes! Today I write about some of what I like about Injection!

There will be *SPOILERS* below.




I love the storytelling in Injection. I picked this action sequence because I think it's a good example of the masterful compositions of the comic and because it's rad as hell. The engine of this composition is how it interacts with the reader eye to provide an impactful and seamless reading experience. 

Page 1: The sequence opens dramatically, with very little context, and a character flying against the natural reading direction. This disorients the reader, creates a dramatic moment, and sets the tone for a totally rad fight scene. This is followed by three panels that essentially carry through a single motion of the Big Thug smashing Simeon, the agent-type-guy, into the ceiling. The long clear motion arc imparts speed and, by crossing panel boundaries, creates a sense of momentum that increases the perceived force of the motion. To continue the sense of disorientation, the panels depicting the ceiling-slam also have an unfixed frame of reference that result in unorthodox perspectives that build up the chaotic sense of the fight. It's dramatic and wild and yet still clear and eminently readable.

Page 2: The next page takes smooth, guided tangents that impart a breathless speed and sets the stage for the kitchen brawl. It provides context for the scene change, reads quickly, and provides a quiet moment of contrast for the more violent moments in the sequence. 

Page 3: The magic of this page is the skillet swing perpetrated by the Big Thug. The motion of the swing begins in the top right corner of the page and carries through the entire page, in a single clear arc. This provides the swing with a tremendous amount of speed, momentum, and force. It's simple, but the effect is absolutely perfect: the impact of the pan striking Simeon feels significant and painful. If I were going to compile a collection of example pages everyone should look at, this would certainly make the cut. 

Page 4: The next page combines the same elements again to make for another dramatic page. The top panel has two opposing motions that meet in the other: a vector along the arm of Big Thug along the reading direction which slams into the arc of the knife. It's impactful and gets the reader set to swoop through the multiple panel stab, which transitions smoothly along a tangent to Simeon's cocked-back arm, which then slams down along the reading path into the bottom panel and the page turn...

Page 5: ... which after the turn transitions right into Big Thug's face exploding as Simeon fires his weapon. An event that again acts against the predominant reading direction to enhance surprise, impact, and the visceral horror of the moment. It's great evocative comics.

Which, when taken together is one of the most compelling action sequences I've read in a comic lately.


Another thing that I really liked about Injection was how colouring and shading were used to distinguish between contemporary story sections and flashbacks. Flashbacks in the comic have a soft, bright look that creates sunny, optimistic world. This aesthetic is achieved in part through the use of slightly desaturated harmonious colours, adjacent colours on a colour wheel which blend together to create a mellow unified vision. The modern, post-Injection world of the comic has a much grittier, more granular palette. Colours are bolder and more varied on the page, particularly heavy, sketchy shadows are deployed, and everything is generally darker. It's an aesthetic that feels heavier and somehow more real. When contrasted, these two approaches quietly establish a clear demarcation between the past and present in the comic and build a distinct emotional contrast between the naive and optimistic characters planning to change the future and the haunted and more complex reality of the post-injection world. Great stuff.

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