One of my favorite things that Crepax does, and one of say the five things that most looms over how my pages layout are these vertical strips of panels running down the side of larger panels —or running underneath them—it’s not just that they are there—but they run at a different rhythm to the rest of the page—they are like the flickering of a film strip that is about to break—it’s like fft fft fft—and then big image like fffshhhhh. I love that sort of stuttered lurching interior rhythm of the page.
It’s like sort of watching your twitter feed crawl through your phone in one eye, while a movie is playing in the other. Which I just find intensely modern. I think when Crepax was doing it he was obviously sort of referencing film—but I think that multimedia rhythm still feels like NOW now. It’s like music and you’re dragging a part of the page. I like it a lot.
There’s a slight flip on this that you see in stuff like(I mean everywhere, but I’m just talking about artists I read a shit ton) Taiyo Matsumoto where he’ll go x, x, x, monkey face, x—I think it’s related to that act structure for narrative that Ales Kot posted a few weeks back where you have thing that’s happening, complete other thing, end—as opposed to conflict leads into this leads into this—hollywood filmaking spellbound typa approach. In some ways these out of time strips work like that, without being per se haiku or non-sequitar or whatever.
There’s a great spot in Change #1 by Kot, Jeske, Leong, Brisson where things pop off and you’re about to get a bunch of action and it breaks into this lower bracket of smaller panels that are sort of chaotic but make sense too. I dunno, that’s like a lesson that film learned in the 60s and 70s, and fine art before that—but you don’t see it played with quite as much in western comics.
I’m rambling. But yeah—Crepax is the master. I find it really useful to vacillate between looking at how Crepax does pages and how Brandon Graham does pages—because they are almost opposite approaches—one is very much about the primacy of the panel and the rhythms and angels of moving through panels—where I think Graham is a master of the page itself and space. He can make a single page feel so expansive—you’ll get this whole open page—and then that smaller bank of panels sort of riffing on the page itself—especially in his multiple warheads work of late—you’re sort of seeing rhythms and ways of seeing pages that are pretty revelatory and game changing. I play with that stuff and then a lot of montage/collage time stuff within panels which the only other person in comics I can really look to who is also playing THAT game is Emma Rios.
And then sometimes I just jack my page compositions from Basquiat paintings because I think the way those use space and words are super useful in terms of keeping myself from getting to micro on a page—he forces me to look at the page as a whole, as a singular entity.
It kind of sucks too though, because when you are really locked in on these rhythms and creative ways of using space on the page—there’s a whole bank of comics out there that it’s like you have to come out of space just to read them. I think Ales Kot was saying on twitter the other day about flipping out about reading a comic where someone was just flat out wasting space. I can sort of agree with that. There are so many possibilities, but for a variety of reasons there’s a lot of very rote comics.
I mean that’s something you can’t really fault the image founder guys—I was looking at this Deathlok spidey Erik Larsen comic I had when I was a kid, I was looking at it the other day and there is no way an editor at either of the big two would let a comic hit the shelves with layouts like this. Those extreme comics were playing around constantly with layouts and composition. Characters were popping out of panels. There’s Liefeld pages where a character is completely removed from panels that are only really there as strange texture. It’s crazy. Larsen was on twitter the other day saying one of the editors for one of the big two had a rule about artists having to keep their characters inside of the panel boundaries—which is such a hysterically wrong rule for specifically superhero comics.
I mostly just wanted to write about that Crepax layout though. But I pretty much spend every hour of my day thinking and rethinking about these things—and it’s probably like five artists I’m going to end up talking about if I talk about comics long enough. But I’m just saying. Rob Liefeld X-force comics are the realest thing. That was the premise of this I think.
Oh I also have those old Sam Keith Wolverine stories. Sam Keith is someone no one including me pay enough attention to. Not that I am. I’m reading Dungeon while noodling on a draft of a huge Change review. That’s what I’m about.