Sep 28, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 216: Bad Pixies #1, May 2015

Ah, what the heck! Let's do a week (or most of a week) of comics I got at the convention.

The photocomic is a difficult thing to pull off. Different from a fotonovel, the photocomic offers photographs of actors in various poses, often in front of either a set of some sort or an illustrated background. One of the fundamental problems with these kinds of comics is that, in a traditionally illustrated comic, many of the poses we see characters assuming are freeze frames of movements. This is why the most revered comics artists are those who manage to convey a sense of the kinetic in what is fundamentally a static medium. With a photocomic, one has to pose an actor in such a way that he or she is somehow mimicking this movement. Were one to try taking pictures of an actor in motion, the inevitable blur would make the reading experience a headache-inducing one.

So, at the very least, we have to applaud anyone who attempts this particular variation of the art form. In Bad Pixies, there are definitely moments when the actress (Shantel Knight, who was kind enough to sign my copy of the comic) is meant to be communicating movement with her poses, and does so to varying degrees of success. Writer/creator Douglas Lloyd, however, seems to have anticipated this movement problem, and makes use of static poses to great effect, relying much of the time on the backgrounds to provide the illusion of motion. The second page of the comic features a panel of our pixie heroine showering under a leaf, and while the actress is still, the flow of water allows us to imagine a dynamic scene.

It's worth noting, then, the contrast between the live actor and the illustrated backgrounds. Not only do Mike Roshuk's illustrations offer us that movement, but the combination of illustration and actor enhances the magical quality of the pixie. The hummingbirds she encounters are illustrations, as is the bearded man who captures her, and the hyper-reality of the pixie makes is very easy to imagine that she comes from somewhere other than the mundane world. As opposed to a photocomic that stages its panels on sets, this contrast of media allows a further facet of the magical versus the mundane to be drawn out (pun intended) by the particular style of comic.

I liked Bad Pixies. As an experiment in a particular kind of comics storytelling, it's not without its problems, but ultimately it tells a good (part of a) story, merges media in an interesting manner, and, certainly not least, highlights an area of fandom, the cosplayer, that is fast becoming a major facet of geek culture. I imagine it won't be too long before we see more cosplayers doing projects like this.

More swag from the Edmonton con tomorrow. See you then!

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