Comics THORsday: Introduction to Comics

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Welcome to comics THORsday, an introduction to comics! Every THORsday we’ll explore comics: what are they, what are superhero comics, which is their history, what is the psychology of superheroes, and we’ll take a look to them from an anthropological point of view. Let’s discover comics, not only as an entertainment, but also as a source of sociological, anthropological and psychological source.

Let’s start with what you’ll find in this course, a simple introduction and some vocabulary!

These are the topics that we’ll touch in this geek anthropological comics course:

  • What are comics? We’ll define comics as a medium, and find out about what we can find hidden within comics, like encoded messages. We’ll also stop and think about how different people make different closures when reading comics.
  • We’ll take a look at the History of comics in the US regarding Superhero comics. What can history tell us about American society? Who where the precursors of the medium? What types of stereotypes do we find in comics along history? How are they changing now?
  • We’ll take a look to the environment of comics. Fandom, to be more exact. We’ll explore fans and what they do to celebrate their favorite characters. We’ll also take a look at the influence of movies in comics, and otherwise, and how fans feel about them both.
  • We’ll also explore Japanese comics. Taking a look at different comic realities will also help us find out cultural differences and connections.

Apart from the lessons that you’ll find here every THORsday, you can also start reading some books about comics. I recommend:

I might recommend other books along the way, as well as comic books. You don’t need to purchase all of them, nor read them. You can read this section of the blog every THORsday. But if you want to, please, be my guest and start reading the books that catch your eye!

What is a Comic?

Today we’ll explore what a comic is. We use the word comics as a general term for media which use juxtaposed images in a sequence with a certain narrative. In other words, we use the word ‘comics’ for media which places images side by side in a sequence.

Comic books are volumes of juxtaposed images ordered in a sequence with a certain narrative. Comic volumes are fixed by sheets of bounded paper. However, you can find them digitally as well.

Some authors prefer the word ‘graphic novel‘ for their works. Graphic novels are typically longer than comic books, and are regarded in a higher manner than comic books are. While comic books can have several issues, graphic novels are usually self contained.

We can also find sequential art in newspapers and magazines. Comic strips are usually unbidden and come within other mediums like newspapers and magazines. However, you can find volumes with comic strips as well. (Think about Snoopy or Garfield.)

Comic book pages

In this course I will use the word ‘comic book’ for both comics and graphic novels. In comic book pages we can find these:

Panels. Panels or frame boxes are segments of action contained in a section of the page, outlined with borders or without borders. The shape of the panel can be different, and the size as well. Panels are used to encapsulate (trap) events within the narrative.

Here we have an example of a panel without borders:

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Loki Agent of Asgard (C) Marvel

Here we have an example of panels with borders, and modern page layout.

loki, loki's army, loki agent of asgard, depepi, depepi.com, comics thorsday, comics, comic course, comic ecourse
Loki Agent of Asgard (C) Marvel

Tiers. A tier is a single row of panels. There can be one single panel, or many of them. Here we have an example of a tier with a single panel.

loki, loki's army, loki agent of asgard, depepi, depepi.com, comics thorsday, comics, comic course, comic ecourse
Loki Agent of Asgard (C) Marvel

Gutters. The gutter is the space between planels.

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Loki Agent of Asgard (C) Marvel

Speech balloons. Speech balloons are the bubbles that contain the characters’ dialog and thoughts.

Pointers. The tails or pointers are lines or indicators that point out at the speaker and that come out from the speech balloons.

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Loki Agent of Asgard (C) Marvel

Captions. Captions are the narrator’s voice, but they are also used for narrative purposes, or even thoughts or dialogue sometimes.

Splashes. A splash is a full-page illustration which introduces the story. It can be a full page, half a page, and sometimes even two pages.

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Loki Agent of Asgard (C) Marvel

Spreads. A spread is an image that can be found in more than a page (usually two pages). Sometimes you can find bigger ones which need a gatefold to contain them.

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Loki Agent of Asgard (C) Marvel

Take another look at the pages above. Now, compare them with this other old example. What do you think? Do you feel that the elements of the page explain anything extra than just separating the action?

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(C) Marvel

Let’s take a look at some examples of Japanese manga. What do think about the layout? Do you think that there’s been any type of influence from manga to the american comics?

manga, depepi.com, comics thorsday

manga, depepi.com, comics thorsday

manga, depepi.com, comics thorsday

Recommended Readings


Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com (C) Marvel / Other pictures (C) by their owners, sources can be found by clicking on the manga images.

About pepi

A Geek Girl interested in Geek Anthropology, comic books, books, Superheroes and discovering all about pop culture.

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