Sep 3, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 191: X-Man #3, May 1995


I hate those days that I leave reading my comic until the last minute. I always feel like I rush through them and don't spend the time each deserves. I've noted before that I've a lukewarm response to Jeph Loeb's writing. It's not bad, it's just....meh. Though, in fairness, his collaborations with Tim Sale well after this series was published are quite excellent. But in this one he seems to be trying to inject into the expository boxes the sort of "theatrical" language that young Nate and his thespian comrades might pass off as pseudo-Shakespearean entertainment as they travel the wastelands. This kind of writing can often be effective, but it just doesn't seem to jibe with the coming of age tale that X-Man is telling. The series would benefit from a first person narration, I think. If we were inside Nate's head as the terrible events of this issue unfold, it would be far more affecting. Instead we're given hyperbolic descriptions of how he feels, or should feel. It's that difference between showing and telling.

Which raises an interesting notion. The pictures in a comic are both showing and telling, in that they are visual images that relay both a static moment in time and a language that communicates a narrative movement. Is it possible for the words to both show and tell? I think, in the case of a first person voice, it is certainly possible. A first person narrator can both tell the reader what is happening, and through word choice and delivery, show reactions and plot points that go unspoken, so to speak. But a third person narration? I'm not so sure. This is probably why caption boxes and internal monologues have become somewhat passe in comics. If all we get is the dialogue, we can glean unspoken interactions from the timing of delivery.

I'm going to think on this more. It's a very interesting question, but it's also very much time for bed. See you tomorrow.

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