07 November 2009

Comics That Go Both Ways

I’d like to find a comics page spread that starts with two characters talking in the upper left, then separating. The reader can follow one character across the spread and then down to the lower right, or follow the other down the page and across to the lower right.

Either way, each character has an individual experience before rejoining the other, and only the reader knows what’s happened to both. It’s quite possible Chris Ware has done something like this already, and I just haven’t had the eyesight and patience to enjoy it. If I can’t find an example, I may have to write one.

While waiting, I keep my eyes open for comics pages that play with our idea of panel order. There’s one in Chris Giarrusso’s new G-Man: Learning to Fly collection, which you can find by going to his “Comic Bits” page and selecting strip 28.

A more algorithmic approach to the same issue appears on Jason Shiga’s “April Fooled” poster, originally created for Nickelodeon magazine.

And Sunday Press has collected Gustave Verbeek’s Upside-Downs of Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo comics from 1903-05. Each illustration serves its story twice, once when viewed right-side-up and differently when viewed upside-down. I saw a selection of these Sunday strips in Art Out of Time (reviewed here), and, while I don’t think the concept ever got past the novelty stage, I’m still amazed Verbeek was able to keep up the gimmick as long as he did.


Sam said...

I love your idea, but why are you tossing it out here for free. Knock out a wordless kid-friendly graphic novel on that concept and retire as a millionaire.

Also, I remember reading one of those Verbeek comics many years ago, possibly in a Martin Gardner S.A. column.

As for Jason Shiga -- he's amazing. His book "Meanwhile" is coming out this Spring from Abrams/Amulet.

ericshanower said...

Alan Moore and J.H. Williams did some interesting things with double-page spreads in Promethea, especially toward the end of the series. I vaguely recall one spread where the reader had to follow the characters in a figure eight--or something along those lines.

J. L. Bell said...

Martin Gardner contributed a foreword to the new Verbeek collection, so he might well be a fan from way back.

As for Promethea, I’ve shied away from doing more than sampling those volumes. They seem daunting. But maybe this will be my in.