Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mad Theory

Why does it work? Why do comics work? Well, you'd have to get into mad theory, but if you want more mad theory, I'd say that the reason comics work – and work they do – I mean, when I was researching Brought to Life I found out that the Pentagon had done tests to see what was the means by which information could be most easily taken in and could be most easily retained – they'd tried straight text, they'd tried text with photographs, they'd tried illustrations with captions, photographs with captions, and they'd tried comics. Comics were best.

Now, why should that be? Why are comics so brilliant at fixing ideas in people's minds, getting them across? I would say it's because the verbal parts of our brains – what used to be called ‘left-brain' activities before we found out that they're actually kind of all over the place – you might say that the ‘currency' if you like – for what used to be called our left brain – you might say that that was the word. Now, our pre-verbal minds – what used to be called the ‘right brain' – you might say that the currency for that side of the brain – the pre-verbal part – would be the image. Now, comics might therefore be one of the only forms of art that calls upon you to actually have a kind of integrated experience. Because some people who have trouble reading comics – and there are a lot of people – well they'll say: “Do you look at the pictures first or do you read the words?”, whereas if you read comics you know that you kinda do both at once. You're taking in the picture peripherally while you're reading the words, and your eyes will sort of zig around – and you kind of absorb them both at once.

(...) the reader is in complete control of the experience. It is a medium which not only combines the verbal and visual parts of our minds, but one where we are in complete control of the experience and where because it is so reader-friendly – you wanna check out this panel there to see if there's any connection – you can just flick back. You don't have to rewind the video and then pause it, you just flick back. Easy. And so it enables the comic book writer, the inventive writer, to utilize all those advantages and come up with really clever structures that would be lost in a film, but when they're frozen on the page where everyone can see how clever you are for all time, it works perfectly.

- Alan Moore