Tag Archives: design

Implied Complexity – Mike Mignola

14 Mar
by L. Nichols

One of the greatest strengths of cartooning is in the things that aren’t shown.

Scott McCloud talks about simplification of form in Understanding Comics (which if you haven’t read, I highly recommend). A photo of a person can only represent that one person. A smiley face symbol can represent any smiling face. Cartooning navigates this world between representation and symbol.

For me, I think of cartooning as something very much based in design. It is design in a specific usage. Manipulation of the understanding of forms. (Maybe more than just that, but that is a good start ?*). Cartooning can range from the goofier, caricatured styles (Kevin talked a bit about this) to styles that are more based in reality. Regardless of which style moves you, I feel like cartooning in all its forms really speaks to the idea that “perfection is not when there’s nothing left to add, it’s when there’s nothing left to take away.”

Today, I want to talk about the use of cartooning to imply complexity and particularly Mike Mignola.

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The Magic of Design

7 Mar
by L. Nichols

In English, the word design is both a noun and a verb (which tells one a lot about the nature of the English language). As a noun, it means – among other things – ‘intention’, ‘plan’, ‘intent’, ‘aim’, ‘scheme’, ‘plot’, ‘motif’, ‘basic structure’, all these (and other meanings) being connected with ‘cunning’ and ‘deception’. As a verb (‘to design’), meanings include ‘to concoct something’, ‘to simulate’, ‘to draft’, ‘to sketch’, ‘to fashion’, ‘to have designs on something’. 1

When I first read Flusser’s essay about the nature of the word design (About the Word Design 1), I was simultaneously floored and also a little angry.

A designer is a cunning plotter laying his traps. 1

As someone who studied engineering, as someone who works as a graphic designer, as an artist, I felt attacked , accused of blatant deception. But the more I thought about what he was getting at, the more I realized that there was a definite basis of truth to the claim of designer as a trickster/deceiver. Maybe being a deceiver isn’t such a bad thing.

I always hear comics people talking about design. Page design/layout. Character design. Book design. Website design. Etc. etc. etc. But what does this really mean? If we agree that design is about deception and manipulation, is tricking/being tricked really such a bad thing?

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Between the Sheets – Joe Sacco’s word placement

14 Feb
by L. Nichols

Back in college, I took a class on comics with the Comparative Media Studies department. This was the first time I really read comics and the first time I fell in love with them. It was also the time when I started drawing comics of my own. Many of our assignments for that class involved page/panel analysis, and I really loved doing this for my own sake. I wanted to figure out tricks. I wanted to know the nuts and bolts. I wanted to understand comics. Now that I have decided be more serious about writing with Comix Cube, I thought I should go back to this practice. Here is the first of many Between the Sheets.

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Joe Sacco & his word placement

One thing that always stands out to me in Joe Sacco’s work is his use of word placement to influence page flow/page reading. I have selected two pages each from Palestine and The Fixer (the two books of his that I actually own and have readily at hand) to talk about. I’m not talking about the stories that these pages are taken from, but rather the actual design of the page and how the layout affects the reading of the page.

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