Monday, September 29, 2008

words and pictures

I'm trying to develop my narrative tendencies, by coming up with A Story. It's going pretty well, I guess - except for the fact that the story sucks, and is lame, boring and not pertinent to anything significant. I wouldn't want to put it on a wall and have anyone I know see it. Is this something I should keep working on, and improve it in terms of those negative aspects, or just abandon it completely?

It's very, VERY rare to find any one person who is equally good at drawing a story, and writing it - in terms of the plot, the characters, the choice of language, and all that. Most good comics have either a compelling, well-told story combined with simple drawings, or beautiful drawings and pointless words. Actually, maybe it's not an exact balance - a comic with a shitty, lame, saccharine plot and nice drawings isn't usually worth reading. I would actually say that the story is more important - but I think the key is that the images should be appropriate to the story. As in, the artist should know his or her limitations and stick within them, rather than trying to draw in a more complicated style than he or she can.

But what I really want to talk about is: why do we expect one person to be able to do both? What happens if we combine a great storyteller with a great artist? Maybe this is what happens the vast majority of the time - the comics I read are mostly webcomics, where it's all about the self-publishing and such, whereas in a traditional published comic, it's made by several people.

I think I'm all for abandoing the stereotype of the artist as an individualistic genius who does it all himself or herself. On the other hand, maybe there is something lost if you have two people working on both sides of the story: not because it taints the purity of the individualistic genius artist, but maybe because a story with great words and great pictures isn't as interesting as one that is a little imperfect on one side of the equation.

I think there's still something charming about reaching for a certain mark, and falling a little short of it.

Or it could be that the real important thing is the way the words and pictures work together, to tell a story. An image isn't just there to embellish the words (most of the time). And words aren't just there to explain the picture. Striking a balance is probably key.

Maybe instead of coming up with words to tell a story, I should realise that pictures can tell a story on their own, since that's what I'm better at.

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