(From Gossamer Commons, by Eric Burns & Peter Venables)
I had some difficulty reading today’s Gossamer Commons. It’d be safe to say I’m an experienced comics reader. I know how to read them. I’ve been reading them since I could read them. I’ve read McCloud’s and others’ experiments in reading path deviation. I’ve read a lot of different kinds of comics and a lot of different methods executed.
Still, I had a bit of trouble reading this one the first time around.
Deviating from the norm when it comes to laying out a reading path, or the imaginary line you follow when going from bubble to bubble, is dandy. But that path still needs to be logical. I’m reading along and everything is fine up until the point where you get to Mal’s line, “So you came here for Wine?” It’s in a tricky spot. It’s meant to transition down to the “panel” below it. But the direction you’re going when you read that makes you want to veer left. And the conversation presented, reading that panel from right to left, still makes sense. Until you decide it’s time to move on to the top right panel. Then I’m like, “Wait, we’re back at the horseradish again? Who wrote this, Bendis?”
I’m sure you’re wondering how I think it would’ve been done better. And honestly, I’ve been spending the better part of the last hour trying to re-arrange said strip in Photoshop with no success. The proportions of the panels and the balloons creeping into each other panel’s territories add to the confusion. It’d need the size of the panels to be better proportioned to each other, and a more logical reading path.
It’s not too big a deal though, really. The layout of the strip’s installment, itself, is daring and original, and definitely not impossible to comprehend. Topped off with a witty Passover joke. So this is meant to be one of those helpful criticisms, where you go “Hey, I see what you were trying to do. Didn’t quite work, here’s what you can do to improve.”
So yeah. Good try, dudes. Keep at it.
And keep your grubby mitts off of my brain, dammit. Don’t think I don’t see that hungry stare.