Monster Hunt

by Jinryu


When I was younger, among other things, I wanted to become a professional writer.  I mean, sure, I write professionally for work everyday– words are the most important thing to a legal practitioner after all. But I’m talking abut fiction. And better yet, fantasy and science fiction.

There is a lot that goes into the making of a good comic book, and I’ll use the above three panels to come to ideas of of things to appreciate in the art.  I’m not an art historian or anything like that, but these are just some general notes on what I see here to let you in on what I think and appreciate about a good comic.

  • What is the message that we’re trying to convey here?  You can call this a theme, or the message.  What is the set of panels trying to tell us?
  • Are the characters growing?
  • Oftentimes, the environment provides part of the “foil.”  The “world” is often what the early chapters try to describe to you, and exploring the world is often as important as exploring the characters and messages.
  • Half of the language of a comic book is visual– If done correctly, you don’t have a sentence that is out of place or extraneous.  You can build messages, characters, and environment through visual tricks that cue reflexes of your understanding, based on cultural upbringing.

So what do I see in the three panels above?

  • The subtle lens flare on Mom’s face reflects that Aurora probably doesn’t remember too clearly what mom looks like.  It’s also easier to picture her in some sort of heavenly context.
  • A progression of time.
    • Not just because of the age of Aurora, specifically indicated in text boxes, but by the metaphor presented by the seasons in the background (see the tree)
  • Development
    • Again, not just the age of Child Aurorora to Teenage Auroroa.
    • We see the father, in cell 1, as the relaxed husband and father.  Wearing a t-shirt and with a warm smile, he’s happy to let mom explain what the parents do to earn the bread.  It is a gentleman away from work, beaming at the gentle voice of his wife as she explains using the language of children: “heroes.”
    • By cell 2, the father is probably wearing an outfit not unlike one that he might be found at the time of Cell 1.  But the selective presentation of it gives a median mode to this era of time, when “work clothes” come into the living room.  The father is not going to bullshit his daughter. His warm smile is gone, but this is replaced by a paternal concern to help ease the void in their family– Young Aurora now sits where her mother once sat, because she is now the only woman in the family.  She still has some time to grow into this space.
    • By cell 3, the father is in a time frame where the home has been invaded by the reality of the outside world– in wearing his fighting gear at home, he has brought work home.  The cell 1 living room is no longer insular enough for a vocabulary of “heroes.”  There is only the reality of “monsters.”
    • By cell 3, we aren’t sitting down anymore– we’re on our feet.  What started off as an expression of longing and confusion in cell 2 in aurora is replaced by an expression of apprehension, maybe a bit of dread, because she probably saw this coming.
    • By cell 3, dad wearing a mask means we’re at war.  The mask is protection, and when it’s on,  we don’t see the warmth of Cell 1; or the sigh of Cell 2.  In Cell 3, a utilitarian mask comes with the message that decisions have been made and all that is left is to follow through with what needs to be done.
    • Notice the body language.  Cell 1: Mom pointing in a relaxed, casual way.  Cell 2: the somewhat weary condolence hand on the shoulder.  Cell 3: Contrast Mom pointing with Dad pointing, with a sense of purpose: like a military recruiter telling YOU that it needs YOU to do a certain job, because this job is important.