CLOSE ANALYSIS OF WORDS AND IMAGES
Let’s begin by reviewing Scott McCloud’s Ch. 6 of Understanding Comics. This chapter in particular is where McCloud discusses the different kinds of interrelationship that words and images can share.
Here is a PowerPoint of the whole chapter: McCloud Ch. 6
Specifically, McCloud highlights SEVEN combinations:
- Word Specific
- Picture Specific
- Duo Specific
Part 1: Reviewing What McCloud Says
Word Specific basically relies on the words to tell the narrative while imagery acts as a kind of ornamentation.
Picture Specific is the inverse of Word Specific. Here the use of words acts as ornamentation to the imagery or pictures that are conveying the actual narrative.
Duo-Specific acts as a situation where words and images are complimentary to one another in the fact that they basically convey “the same message.”
Additive is where the words serve as a means of amplifying or elaborating on the image that is communicating the narrative.
Parallel demonstrates a situation where the words and images appear to be conveying “parallel” but separate narratives. This can be more easily identified or isolated often times when one is only shown a page or panel or two of a comic or graphic novel without knowing the entire context. It can also represent some esoteric storytelling too.
Montage is where the words and images are part of the same framework. This is where the words in particular become part of the actual image.
Inter-Dependent is noted by McCloud to be the “most common” combination. This is where words and pictures/images convey different meanings separately but in combination convey a meaning that neither has without the other.
Part 2: Putting McCloud Into Practice
Here are some random selection of images that I have put together from digital graphic novels that I own, mainly from the superhero genre, and I want you to look at each and using McCloud’s definitions, define which combination each image appeared to embody.
The images I showed the students were selected at random:
Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow by Alan Moore and Curt Swan and George Perez
Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Justice League #1 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee
Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
Here is what the students came up for as a consensus as combinations after reading McCloud and examining the following image:
LET’S FOCUS IN A BIT HERE
Part 3: Conclusions and Observations
The purpose of this exercise with the students is reinforce and introduce, to expand upon their our perceptions and vocabulary of the combination of visuals and words they are encountering in their readings.