Nov 17, 2015

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 266: The Art of Dodging Shadows #4, 2004

(I'll post a picture once I've scanned the cover tomorrow. I'm blogging this from bed.)

Nicholas Johnson's crime caper wraps up pretty much how I expected, which I'm pretty glad about because I'd hate for anything untoward to have happened to some characters that I've really grown quite fond of. I really do hope he manages to put out a trade of this series, because it's really good and I think that it would read really well as a continuous book, rather than the serialized pamphlet.

That's an interesting notion, actually. I could have, had I wanted to, read the whole series as a continuous book, even though I have it in four issues, by dint of the fact that I have all four issues. But even that separation is enough to consider it as a serialized story, rather than as four chapters in a single story. It makes me wonder just how much we are conditioned to react to a story by the medium it is presented in, and not just the medium (yes, yes, Mr. McLuhan), but the particular format of the medium in which it's presented. I know that I would have reacted differently reading this as a trade in one sitting rather than reading it as four separate issues in one sitting. There are connotations of time in the serially-published pamphlet. It is virtually impossible, even in the back of one's head, to ignore the fact that time has passed between the installments of the story, even if, in narrative time, no time has passed at all. But how exactly does that change one's reading experience?

I'll venture that the implicit knowledge of time passing in publishing terms while no time, or very little, has passed in narrative terms introduces a kind of cognitive dissonance into the reading of a story. It only happens with some comics, though. If the story you're reading ends, and the next month's comic starts a new story, and time has passed, that dissonance is not present. Conversely, if a story ends on a cliffhanger (as issue #3 of Shadows did), the return to that story, sometimes months later, induces in a reader the feeling of time having passed and no time having passed all at the same time.

Interesting. I'll have to see if I can put my finger on what kind of effect this might have on appreciation or reaction to the story. But not now. I'm tired (remember, I'm in bed posting this) and it's time for sleep. See you tomorrow.

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