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Whether "Robots love to dance" is Comics Goto page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Neil Gaiman was the first to tell me that "Robots" wasn't comics by my definition, not because it has animation (When I Am King has plenty of those sorts of loops) but because the robot with the sign acknowledges the others as being simultaneously "on the stage" with him. Seen that way, it's just one single animated panel of a bunch of robots dancing. No sequence involved.

I had to admit that he had a point!
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nyarlathotep
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:26 pm    Post subject: Shamelessly butting in because he can! Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:
[RLTD isn't comics] because the robot with the sign acknowledges the others as being simultaneously "on the stage" with him. Seen that way, it's just one single animated panel of a bunch of robots dancing. No sequence involved.


Perhaps not. But what of aspect-to-aspect panels, then? Aspect-to-aspect panels transcend time, and wander around space, allowing the reader glimpses of a single scene. Might not RLTD be snapshots of that same stage? I mean, each panel hosts a robot, and each robot basically is a fragment of a larger scene...

...darn it. I can't concentrate. I knew playing the Dungeon Siege demo while messaging friends and visiting forums was a bad idea...
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Tariq Kamal
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Scott McCloud
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aah, but Aspect-to-Aspect transitions are still divided into discrete reading sequences. Hmmm.... Maybe RLTD is comics on a small screen but not on a big screen! How's that for hair-splitting?
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... I was going to argue in favor of RLtD being comics by virtue of fitting in with the RC "temporal map" way of defining comics, but Nyarlathotep's musings of aspect-to-aspect storytelling makes me wonder how both that and non-sequiter comics work as "temporal maps" at all. Comics get weirder and more magical every day.
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nyarlathotep
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You only get those kinds of musing when you have motion sickness.

Now, excuse me, I have to go lie down now.
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Tariq Kamal
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nyarlathotep
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:
Aah, but Aspect-to-Aspect transitions are still divided into discrete reading sequences...


(scrambles out of bed, realizing something)

Er, and they're not?
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Tariq Kamal
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott McCloud wrote:
Aah, but Aspect-to-Aspect transitions are still divided into discrete reading sequences.


True, but don't they only make up a temporal map when used in relation to other surrounding panels that use other kinds of transitions?
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buzzard
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 12:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hrm. I read the comic as a temporal series: one by one, robots get "on stage" and dance; eventually, one refuses, and breaks the fourth wall as it does.

Comics to me.
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Fortunato
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2002 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

good call buzzard. I remember the section about panel transitions well (I still don't have my copy back, I've loaned it to a philosophy professor and I want him to use it as a textbook in an aesthetics class). after he introduces the six types of panel transitions, he proceeds with a sequence of panels that looks like it came straight out of five card nancy. remember the fork? or the shot of nancy getting hit by lightning? he says "there is a kind of...FORK...alchemy at work in the border between panels" "closure for blood, gutters for veins" That seems to be a case for even non sequiturs being comics despite not having any articulable (is that a word?) sort of story. Food for thought, eh?
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Nathan P.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2002 7:20 pm    Post subject: RLTD Reply with quote

I was leaning toward that explanation, but the fact that the robot looks to each side, seeming to look at its neighbor bots, makes me think that they are all present at the same time. Perhaps they are all far enough apart as indicated by the moving dashed lines that only robots would be able to see each other on stage. I personally find analizing the comicicitiy of this to be a waste of time. I see it a medium mixture which will forever be a medium mixture, but still usefull. If I staple a flower to the middle of a painting, I won't consider it a painting, but it may still be art. My point is that this is a perfectly useable medium itself, and it may have ways of portraying stories that neither comics nor animation can fully encompass. What do you think?
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Nick Douglas
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2002 10:39 am    Post subject: This is the subject line. (Irony sucks.) Reply with quote

buzzard wrote:
eventually, one refuses, and breaks the fourth wall as it does.


That dang fourth wall is so addictive. I nearly muck up my prose every time by putting a bit too much self-referentiality in there...

By the by, I agree with Nathan P. I wonder if Scott thought highly of Nathan's lucid schema?
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losttoy
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2002 4:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The problem here is that there is no definied panels. It could be one big panel. It could be a panel for each robot. I remember Will Eisner saying at a convention that panels don't have to be boxes ... in fact a lot of panels can be open, without borders, creating a feel of distance or time. We then have to evaluate the use of the squares in the background. Are they the infamous trails that McCloud created to link panels together on web comics? Perhaps they are disco lights. Is the sign robot looking at the other robots or just to the side? Is the panel the screen in which it is being veiwed, or panels where there is no background, only the main characters? I think that the robots each getting up on the "stage" one at a time is using a lot of imagination.

-David Ano
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Jack Masters
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 29, 2002 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part of what makes something a comic is having space represent time. Since whether space represents time in RLtD is rather ambiguious, one might say that it can be seen as a comic or not, and that since both points of view are subjective, it's niether 100% a comic nor 100% NOT a comic.

I'd say it's about 60% a comic, but that's pretty meaningless considering criteria haven't, and probably never will be, agreed upon.
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JamieGuy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2002 5:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

losttoy wrote:
The problem here is that there is no definied panels...I think that the robots each getting up on the "stage" one at a time is using a lot of imagination.


And why not? After all, at some level, all comics must convey some information only by implication, and that leaves lots of room for interpretation. And just like prose/movies/painting/what-have-you, the reader's imagination is a vital part of the process. So while RLTD may stand on the edge of the precipice, I see enough cues to be comfortable calling it "comics".

Besides, I just love those little guys. I can't stop going back to that page
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Muskratt
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2002 8:01 pm    Post subject: maybe another take Reply with quote

Hold on... must the panels have borders to be considered individual panels? Or are the trails between the robots enough to differentiate? I think that pherhaps they are. I'm pretty sure that many of the "panels" linked by trails in "I Can't Stop Thinking" lack panel borders - so does that mean they're nolonger comics? I don't think so. The trails between the panels should be enough, but then they're animated too - does THAT change the situation in any way?

-ratt
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cryoblade
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PostPosted: Thu May 02, 2002 1:13 am    Post subject: its not comics Reply with quote

of COURSE its not comics, why?
well at least according to scott san
a movie isnt a comic when projected, but the individual frames are.
if you break down rltd into its frames, its comics. if you leave it together in animation.
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NAT
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PostPosted: Sat May 04, 2002 5:34 pm    Post subject: RLTD Reply with quote

In a comic, a subject or character can relate to a subject or character off-panel. They can acknowledge other characters without being on the same panel. The still robot is doing exactly this. It IS a comic.
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Kevin Pease
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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2002 2:32 am    Post subject: Robots Love To Dance Reply with quote

I wouldn't say that the dissenter robot is forcing the one-big-picture interpretation. Yes, it is aware of the other robots, but there are plenty of explanations for that if you imagine what the story might be of all these robots dancing. Plus, it says "this comic," telling the reader that it is a comic meant to be read a panel at a time in case there was any doubt. I think that takes away the ambiguity and makes it a comic.

Also, there's the scrolling element. If I were to put myself in the position of Scott, and a hypothetical other person were to suggest that RLTD be shortened or reformatted so that the reader could see it all at once, I would say, "No! That would defeat the whole point!" The humor comes from the surprise, and even, dare I say it, the timing. It's funnier because the reader is waiting so long for the payoff. If you were to think of it as one big picture, would it make sense to say that it is funnier because there are more robots? Or to say that it is funnier because the one robot who refuses to dance is close to stage right, as opposed to the center or the left? No and no. You can demonstrate that there's a necessary temporal element to this thing simply by observing the fact that seeing it backwards would subvert the intended experience. So, yes, it's a comic meant to be read from left to right.

In addition, you may remember my yammering about comic strips, and how in a serial work time is represented by time as well as by space. When RLTD first appeared in the Daily Improv, one panel appeared at a time. That's a signal that it's supposed to be read that way!
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Chris Wand
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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2002 1:25 pm    Post subject: Defining Sequence... Reply with quote

I can't seem to locate my copy of Understanding Comics at the moment, but I don't seem to recall the definition of comics requiring the images to be in a chronological sequence, merely in some sort of comprehensible sequence. In fact, one of the panel transition types you list, aspect to aspect, is patently achronological (is that a word?). The whole point of aspect to aspect transitions is to give the viewer multiple views of the same moment, and convey a sense of timelessness. If it's true that no chronological sequence is required, then clearly Robots is a comic (the animation issue aside), because the robots are connected in a sequence thematically and in terms of comic timing of the punchline. (btw, if chronological sequence is required, then a couple other of the morning improvs aren't comics either, parts of happytown and When Luna smiles spring to mind)
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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2002 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

er, darn, this has alread been dealt with, I could have sworn I'd read tthis whole page
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Nathan P.
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PostPosted: Tue May 07, 2002 6:49 pm    Post subject: comics and animation. Reply with quote

I actually have to agree with Cryoblade on his statement that robots love to dance isn't comics. To me it's similar to asking is the following comics?:




I think that this is definately comics though:
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nyarlathotep
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 2:24 am    Post subject: Re: comics and animation. Reply with quote

Nathan P. wrote:
I actually have to agree with Cryoblade on his statement that robots love to dance isn't comics. To me it's similar to asking is the following comics?:




My argument would be that those are aspect-to-aspect transitions. They generally are achronological, but they're still comics. Ask yourself this question -- how far away is the guy doing from ? Perhaps the two people are much further away, but the panels has shortened the distances...

Nathan P. wrote:
I think that this is definately comics though:


Moment-to-moment transitions. Yeah, they definitely are. You could probably shorten them to:



And whaddya get? Action-to-action
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Nathan P.
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PostPosted: Wed May 08, 2002 9:00 pm    Post subject: Comics Reply with quote

The animation makes the panel with the animation not comics. It could be argued that at any moment that you look at a comic with animation that it is a comic because if you were to stop time and read the comic, It would presumably be readable(unless there were lots of blank frames in the animation which could render the entire thing blank space). However, the fact that any frame containing animation can be seen as an animation in and of itself definately makes anything calling itself a comic that contains animation an amalgam of media.
= comics
= animation
= comicamation?
= animomics?
I don't think that artists who like comics should feel obligated to making only comics in their graphic art. Scott didn't call the Morning Improv the morning comics. I personally would like to(and am in the process of doing so) make a graphic novel with sections that are highly embossed(3D) and pop-up(the motion makes it non-comics(unless it only moves upon opening like all comic pages).
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nyarlathotep
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PostPosted: Thu May 09, 2002 3:13 am    Post subject: Re: Comics Reply with quote

Nathan P. wrote:
The animation makes the panel with the animation not comics. It could be argued that at any moment that you look at a comic with animation that it is a comic because if you were to stop time and read the comic, It would presumably be readable(unless there were lots of blank frames in the animation which could render the entire thing blank space). However, the fact that any frame containing animation can be seen as an animation in and of itself definately makes anything calling itself a comic that contains animation an amalgam of media.


Hardly.


  1. You assume that everyone sees the animation, don't you? Because I could turn of my graphics (I may want to, to save bandwitdh). And instead of getting a smiley, I'd get several boxes with text inside them. Admittedly, they'd not be understandable because the ALT-texts describe merely the file name (shame on you, zwol! Shame!). But are those comics? What if I turn off the animation (it's possible, I think -- I need to check my settings... yeah, it's possible) Fundamentally what I see and what I see when I turn off the graphics and animation are the same thing -- are they still comics?
  2. You also assume that the animations needed to make each panel were necessary for us to understand the comic itself. I disagree. The animation takes away some of the work of closure from us to the machine. Not a bad thing, as it may sometimes enchance the experience, and perhaps may free me to do other things with my closure. Once again, that assumes that the animations don't distract -- which may be the author's intention.


Though right now I want to kvetch on how zwol's accesibility -- you're supposed to describe what the smileys are using the alt-tags, people... not file-names. For shame.

Addendum: And I just checked Scott's Improv works without the animation on. They all work. Not necessarily very well, though -- it takes some time in RLTD, but for some works, like Meadow of the Damned (the last bit), they may even make it look better. Do you know how many times that animated background has given me a headache? And sometimes a headache on my browser too, Opera occasionally crashes, but I think it's a memory issue; neither the author nor browser maker is at fault. I've got, like, 200 things running in the background.
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