Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Deep Sequencing: Welcome Backflip

Or a look at the use of multiple-image motion use in Welcome Back Volume 1
by Christopher Sebela, Jonathan Brandon Sawyer, Claire Roe, Carlos Zamudio, Juan Manuel Tumburus, and Shawn Aldridge

Welcome Back is a comic about reincarnating murderers locked in an endless cycle of death. Except one of these murders has grown accustomed to her new life and wants to escape the cycle and her nemesis has other plans for her. It's a comic with a fun premise that delivers a nifty little action story.

It's also a comic that does something fun with a comic cliché.

There will be *SPOILERS* for Welcome Back Volume 1 below.

An inherent limitation of comics is that they use static images to tell a kinetic story. The usual way way around this is to use carefully selected images of the action to capture the essence of the action being depicted. This works really well for most things. But there are some motions that don't translate particularly well to static images: the motions are too complex to easily translate to a single representative snapshot. Things like sweet backflips, generally need a few images to capture the component movements, for instance. One solution to this problem is to depict multiple snapshots of a motion within a single panel to provide the context to sell the motion and to create a sense of immediacy to the action. It's a cliché comics trick that gives the world all of the sweet backflips. 

The above selection from Black Widow #1 (by Samnee, Waid, Wilson, and Caramagna), while lacking sweet backflips, is a good example of this. 

Welcome Back Volume 1 has a fun take on this storytelling approach. The hook of Welcome Back is that the characters in the comic are (mostly) reincarnated killers, including the little girl above who is the protagonist's reincarnated father. In the above the sequence, girl-father leaps across a motor vehicle accident during a car crash in a complex motion that is broken up into multiple images in a single panel. This allows the full complexity of the character action to be appreciated and conveys that these sweet moves occur in an instant. The novelty of this sequence is that the various snapshots of this motion show girl-father's past lives as historic-type warriors and assassins. Which makes this motion sequence also function to showcase the premise of the comic: it provides a clever visual representation of the whole reincarnated killer deal. It's also, like, a super fun comics moment with the juxtaposition of the cute girl-father with the carnage of the car crash. It's interesting stuff. 

I also think this sequence illustrates the cleverness and slightly deranged sensibility of Welcome Back and serves as a pretty good litmus test for whether you might like to read the comic. 

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