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HYEROGLYPHIC COMICS

Updated: Jul 1


Blow up doll
In every dream home...

This post will feature a complete spread from my upcoming graphic novel, and expound on an idea that is central to my work: HYEROGLYPHIC COMICS


Long story short, hieroglyphic comics are comics meant to be read slowly. Comics that try to fulfill the goal of being "a sequence of paintings". Comics that reward readers that delve deeply into every detail, comics that hold proper MYSTERIES within each element.


Paintings, when compared to your average comic book panel, can rise to crazy complexity.


While most comics' goal is to work like a magic trick, evoke a cinematic sensation, and be wolfed down in a flash, MY comics are meant to function in way that is similar to something like this:

Enlightened Pleasures Dali
A BANQUET of meaningful things to notice...

I remember reading the much maligned and misunderstood masterpiece that is Frank Miller's amazing "Dark Knight Strikes Again" (for my money the greatest Superhero comic ever made). I read it and then read an interview with the author, where he talked about how the attempted to integrate aspects he loved from European, Japanese and GRINGO comics (term used affectionately).


Frank Miller Sin City glory
Gorgeous juxtaposition

He talked about how TIME flows different in each, about trying to build a kind of middle-ground between the three.


I remember this other comment he made about intercalating panels with little critters with shots following heroic action in order to slow down the reader's journey thru the page. The example pasted above is such a joy...


Comics are my favorite artistic medium, because you get to eat your cake and have it to with them. You get to HOLD something that is ALIVE.


Like wrapping your arms around a beautiful woman, like waiting with a mouthful of Whiskey before you gulp it down.


You get to have the sense of flow and feel the pulse of something, but, instead of flowing by, you get to savor it at your leisure. You get to spend as much time in a page, in a panel, in a detail within a panel, as you want, but the urgency, the glow of life remains there.


I also remember reading another interview with another author I immensely admire; Katsuhiro Otomo (the man behind "AKIRA" of course). He just stated that he wanted the reader to go thru the pages as fast as possible. The near totality of AKIRA is breathless action after all.


Akira Otomo
Capital "B" Breathless thrill

I realized at some point, while developing my craft, that I wouldn´t be able to draw the thousands of pages famous mangakas manage. I sort of developed this "quality above quantity" approach partially in response to that.


Now, of course Akira has insane quality as well. But I mean "quality" in a different sense. While you can FOR SURE spend a long time admiring the beauty of its pages and rigorous details, it features a strictly cinematic visual language. If you compare the movie's storyboards to the manga, they pretty much look the same. Sure, Otomo plays around with the size and shape of the panels to great effect, and is a master or rhythm... I am a huge fan of the ideas and dreams his lavish works convey. MUCH could be said about that huge work, a work I don't find deficient in any way.


BUT


if does feature a strictly cinematic language. It reads like a movie, and it wants to propel you along its glorious pages in that fashion.


Otomo has more or less abandoned (I know, I know, not fully) manga in favor of animation, which isn´t surprising considering the manga he draws clearly aspires towards animation.


I love movies. I consider myself a proper cinephile, but.


But.


But I prefer comics to movies, mainly for the reason laid out above.


You get to HOLD something that is ALIVE.


Movies can certainly come to life, but a movie can´t be held, a movie flows by. It PAINFULLY flows by, RELENTLESSLY flows by, just like REAL LIFE does.


Comics can surpass "real life" in that sense... in the sense that you get to inhabit this extra dimension while reading them, a dimension of SUSPENDED YET ALIVE time.


This magical zone allows one to cram greater and greater complexity into the suspended slice of reality.


Layered code fits in there. The elaborate language structures of Art at large fit comfortably within that mysterious extra dimension comics open the door to.


Specifically, I was inspired by Stanley Kubricks´ insanely elaborate, dense films. MASTERPIECES! TRIUMPHS OF IMAGINATION... that, in my opinion don´t really work.


What I mean is that, despite his movies being beautiful and enjoyable, so much of what Kubrick labored to encode into them is impossible to notice unless you STUDY his work. Pausing, going back and forth, capturing and comparing still-frames etc. That is the only real way to "get" much of what he´s saying. They are films meant to be STUDIED... which unfortunately clashes against the form, clashes against a medium whose purpose is to, like music, like life flow by.


Life flows by fast enough, Art should take a break now and then.

Comics allow you to encode and layer away with abandon, confident that the reader has all the time in the world to investigate the page and arrive at whatever grand revelation one might hide in it.


Years and years ago, while working on my first work (that would be "Secret Reunion In Carfax Lodge" available at my store) I was developing an interest in the vast realm of Art. Said interest did not conflict in the slightest with my love for comic-books, but it did lead me to notice the limitations of the sort of images comic books featured, the limitations of how they functioned.


I want for my comics' pictures to encompass the whole ocean of possibilities the vast realm of Art affords.


I want to develop ludic, elaborate, detailed games with my audience, and I want every square centimeter of the page to MEAN something and to grant pleasure.


To balance the cinematic aspect with the science fiction aspect AND the dreamlike aspect... To may art with a cinematic feeling of life in it. Now THAT sounds cool to me.


Comics as proper "sequential art". Comics as "a sequence of paintings".


Check this out, this page in particular from Nicolas De Crecy's mesmerizing "Prosopopus" had a huge impact on me:


One of the greatest depictions of DEATH ever.

What a momentous wonder of a page. One that HIT young Geladaa HARD once upon a time... and time has not dimmed its pleasures one bit. The sequence, the entire comic in fact, provides context for a final panel/piece that is very much in the vein of what you can encounter in a contemporary art museum/gallery.


Many people fail to understand that much of what seems absurd in contemporary art looks that way because the viewer is expected to provide the context for it. Often enough an artists' work makes sense only if you know what came before his latest piece. Very much like a comic huh?


Stuff like THIS (see image below) is SO FUCKING COOL once you understand its codes:


The cherry on top of human civilization

So my comics pull from THAT sort of thing also. I truly believe a marriage of it all is possible, where you can build proper Art for adults that is also fantastical and fun and alluring.


HIEROGLYPHIC COMICS then! Comics that go beyond the cinematic! Comics that are more than wannabe films. Comics that, while furiously alive, invite you to spend a long time lovingly scanning each page, and, beyond scanning it... PONDERING it.


So, to close out this post, I´ll share a COMPLETE page of the upcoming second chapter of INHELL, and point out, briefly, some of the principles I force myself to follow in order to craft such pages.


Here a complete spread!


Gorgeous male...

Some of the principles:


-There are no "pages" there are SPREADS only. Panels should not only harmonize, but add up to a proper painting. Space must be USED. The whole point of comics is to have images ADD UP, grant context to each others.


-Every detail on the page, every zone, should be interesting. One is filling up a blank page with meaning, within meaning, there is no non-meaning. If you create a mathematical equation, that equation has no fat, it is all precision, all deliberate speech. Every line and color is exactly whatever it is.


-Detail should, for that purpose, me minimal. BIG DIFFERENCE between "minimal" and "little". Minimal detail could very well be A TON OF DETAIL still, it depends of the need of the page.


Hope you enjoy pondering and savoring the pages then! There are many many things in them.


Catch you later.


ALSO: remember to REGISTER (if you haven´t already) for future updates AND to get a tasty, exciting, mysterious chunk of INHELL in your mail: www.geladaa.com/register!







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