Grinding It Out

And Then One Day #9: Page 21 (Elephant Eater): Panel 1: Random observation, but this is the first time since I began reviewing these pages one at a time, that I actually went back and re-read the previous page to refresh my memory. I’m not sure if that has more to do with the, uhh, “memorability” of the text, or just my own faulty memory and the myriad things I have on my mind right now. I still think the typed-looking text is presented nicely without hardline borders. The most noticeable element in this panel for me is the way that Ryan’s upright posture seems to mirror the professional tone of what he’s typing. He’s no longer joking around, but phrasing things in a more serious, academic manner.

Panel 2: As the camera swings around the room here, I was curious to see if Ryan was going to do a rotoscope 360 degree view of the space as things move on, but it seems clear that he’s beginning to pull out of the shot as the panels progress. An interesting note here is that as Ryan begins discussing the relatively straightforward nature of non-fiction works, the visuals again seem to subtly mirror that theme. He presents this panel in a more traditional perspective, an equally straightforward view of the environment, which doesn’t editorialize much, attempting to merely present “fact.” This parity, of visual approach and textual ideas, continues throughout the page.

Panel 3: First off, we’re continuing to pull out of the environment to add greater context. We began in Panel 1 with a closer shot of Ryan inside the space, Panel 2 was still inside the space but pulling out, and now with Panel 3 we’re seeing things from an exterior position. The parity I mentioned above between ideas presented in the text and where we find ourselves in relation to our “subject” also continues. Ryan mentions the “understanding of individual human experiences,” and as we consider that, we find ourselves outside an apartment building in a position to consider such an example of just one of those many experiences.

Panel 4: I love the way this conceptual throughline seems to keep going. Visually, we’re now further removed from where we started. The camera is pulling back at an accelerated pace now. Similarly, as Ryan mentions a non-fiction reading may be just a “glimpse into another person’s life,” we get that fleeting feeling from the aesthetic that as the camera races out, this is but one of those glimpses flying by us outside what could be a random apartment building in a random city in a random autobiographical piece.

Panel 5: This panel punctuates the two dynamics we’ve been following. First, not only have we left the interior of Ryan’s apartment and hovered outside the immediate area, but now we’ve been pulled even further away, back to the SDSU campus. As Ryan’s text has gone from a very specific individual human experience, it’s now become tied to larger political or social issues in the annals of history, “relevant to archival research” that one would often find occurring in a university setting, as the camera happens to settle on just such a place. This overall sequence is such a strong reminder that there is so much purpose behind the artistic decisions Ryan is making. There is no haphazard setting or stray line of dialogue; they each serve their purpose. I imagine a pyramid shaped set of tiers, where each line and panel on the page form the components of a singular idea on the lowest strata, that idea supports a mid-section example in the middle of my imaginary pyramid, happening on the page as a formed unit, and that fully formed unit supports the overall goals of the book or project in the most strategic point at the top of the pyramid. It’s the type of classic story composition you’d see in a screenwriting book, where individual story beats on the lowest rung then form individual scenes in the middle tier, which form the throughline objective of the movie at the top.


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