Creator Confessions: Don’t Be Afraid To Toy With The Medium
by Frank Martin
It is certainly possible that comic books — more than any other medium — is capable of being played around with in terms of format. With film, prose, even audio dramas, there’s only so much that can be done to experiment with a way the story is told. There are certainly creative tricks that any storyteller can try, especially in film. Writers have told stories backwards, messed around with diegetic sound, and even something as simple as breaking the fourth wall can be done to toy around with the standard way of doing things. But comic books are especially prone to being messed with. The format almost begs for creators to adjust the format and play with gimmicks to give the readers a change of pace.
There are many different reasons to account for this. One is, simply, a cost factor. A film or audio drama can be quite expensive to produce, so the idea of experimenting and trying something new that nobody has ever done before might seem a little risky. Likewise, writing a prose novel is extremely cheap, but there’s only so much that can be done with regular words on the page. Comics strike an interesting balance between being relatively cheap to produce and yet offering enough tools and leeway for storytellers to take chances. That doesn’t mean every chance or shot in the dark will work, but writers are encouraged by a supportive community to stretch their creativity and push the limits of what the medium is capable of.
Then there’s just the nature of comic books themselves. They are unique in that they are a marriage of art and story. The sequential nature of comics leaves a lot of room to toy with the fundamentals. That’s not to say a comic creator should do this right out of the gate. Any artist knows that one must first have a good foundation of comic book creating knowledge before upending the rules and flying their own flag. But there are a lot of spinning wheels in a comic book. There are things like pacing, gutters, layouts, word balloons, colors, even the art itself is a tool to be manipulated. That is probably why creatives are so drawn to the medium. It allows them to truly express themselves with only their imagination as a limit.