For those of you who miss the days when Ken Parille wasn’t obsessed with super-powered fights, you’re in luck. His new close-reading column is in, and he’s set the New 52 issues aside to focus in on John Hankiewicz’s “The Kimball House”. (He also includes a pdf of the comic in question, so as to make it easier to follow along with his formal analysis.) Parille brings it this time. Here’s a taste:
Without necessarily knowing the terminology, readers instinctively understand the distinction between a comic’s diegetic and non-diegetic elements. A diegetic element is one that is (or could be) experienced by the story’s characters. A non-diegetic element is not part of their world. For example, a word balloon represents language that characters hear, but the balloon itself is not present; it exists at a level above/outside the narrative. In “The Kimball House” Hankiewicz takes conventional non-diegetic comic book elements and transforms them into diegetic elements. Thus, in panel 2, a thought balloon’s bubble tail (which comes after the command “Think”) becomes a physical object, casting a shadow on the ground. In the next panel, these circular shadows reappear as another form central to comics: the ellipsis. […]
While the comic’s human characters — the Kimballs and the roofer — are confined to embedded pages, the other ‘characters’ —forms like the ellipsis —appear throughout the comic. “The Kimball House” plays with a limited set of geometrical shapes that function as reoccurring characters: rectangle (as pane, panel, page, house), triangle (as rooftop, arrow top), circle (dot, ellipsis, thought balloon tail bubble, star), along with other main characters — the asterisk (star) and cloud (narration balloon).
Everyone involved in comics seems to be at San Diego right now, so news is relatively light. But there are a few things to read while we wait for the great comics journalists of our time to deliver breathless reports on all of the upcoming movies!
—There are two big interviews with Darwyn “Before Watchmen” Cooke out right now, one on everything Parker/Richard Stark at the Violent World of Parker, which is exhaustive and worthwhile reading for anyone interested in the Stark novels, whether or not you dig Cooke’s particular take on the material, and another on superheroes at the A.V. Club, which includes his soon-to-be-(in)famous take on the Watchmen controversy:
In all honesty, I didn’t expect, “Poor Alan Moore.” I just didn’t expect that. So that sort of took me by surprise. I certainly expected people to have an opinion about whether this beloved material should be explored any further, and I believe that that’s a question, but it’s also a challenge that I’m happy to meet. All the stuff with Alan, I didn’t count on that or really give it much thought.
He also maintains that participating in the project isn’t as bad as forcing children to starve. Which is true, but maybe setting the bar a little low?
—The Guardian has a report on the great illustrator/cartoonist Quentin Blake’s recent work for hospitals.
—Will Brooker, a British academic who specializes in Batman, recommends five comics-related books to The Browser. These are superhero-centric but not stupid choices.
—Tucker Stone previews the next few months of comics releases for Flavorpill.
—And apparently it is comics blogger Heidi MacDonald’s thirtieth anniversary as a writer on comics. Torsten Adair has gathered up tributes.