Grinding It Out

And Then One Day #9: Page 23 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: This is a pretty massive half page shot. I like the way that Dr. Polkinhorn’s figure sits mid-panel in silence. It’s quiet and contemplative, which is a nice pause after quite a few panels that were relatively busy with activity and text. Ryan returns some of the artistic techniques to prominence that we commented on before, such as more overt uses of perspective, the creation of depth, and variable line weight to objects in the foreground like the coat rack to the left. It’s a small pet peeve to see someone with their computer positioned in the corner triangle of their desk because it’s not ergonomically correct, but that really has nothing to do with the craft of comics!

Panel 2: Here we have a close-up shot which emphasizes Dr. Polkinhorn composing his thoughts and mentally crafting his response to Ryan. I like the image of his fingertips pressed together in front of his face. It’s one of those instantly recognizable “poses” that conveys the appropriate sense of meaning. We also see the return of that diamond patterned background. After repeated viewing, I think I have concluded that I’m generally not a big fan of this texture, but in contradictory fashion I actually think it works well here. My first reaction to it was that it gives me the impression of Polkinhorn lost in thought, almost like blown up versions of his synapses firing away as he considers his response.

Panel 3: I’m a little torn on this panel. Purely visually, I think it’s just fine in terms of the rendering of the art, the camera angle, the basic figure drawing, the overall panel composition, etc. What jumps out at me is that one word, “Ryan,” the salutation which begins the response. It seems like it’s just hanging there all by itself, in white space. I guess it is balanced by the clock on the other side, but it’s actually not often you see a single word hanging in a panel that isn’t an expletive. [Takes a break to thumb through 5-6 random comics to investigate.] Actually you do see single words that are not expletives occasionally, but they are usually preceded by, or followed by, the small “…” marks which indicate a pause or continuation of a thought. However, because this single word happens to be a representation of a written/typed word, and not a spoken word, we’re locked into it hanging by itself with a comma. I now feel like I’ve spent way too much time on this, haha! My basic observation was just that it looks a little odd all by itself and I wonder what the thought process was for breaking up the text in this fashion. Let’s leave it at that.

Panel 4: I like this zoomed in shot of Polkinhorn typing for a very specific reason, one which I’m not sure if Ryan intended or not. It’s actually kind of a subtle thing. So, from the orientation of the fingers here I think we can assume that Dr. Polkinhorn is using the ol’ “hunt and peck” method of typing. I think that’s interesting because perhaps it comments on his age/generation. At the time of this writing, I’m 37 years old and I remember learning how to type on those old Apple IIe computers in high school. My age group was probably the first that learned to type on computers rather than typewriters, and then had to type professionally on top of that. I’ve worked with a lot of older men, usually who came out of law enforcement to the private sector, and not a one of them could type. It’s just not a skill that any of them ever picked up due to their generation or profession. By the time my age group started working professionally in the early/mid 90’s, the dot com boom was just taking off and it was basically an essential skill. Keep in mind this is all pure speculation as to how it relates to this page of comics. I don’t know what Polkinhorn’s background is or when/if he ever learned to type in the “correct” way. My initial reaction was just that hrmm, this older gentleman is hunting and pecking, which just feels right given his generation.


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