Thursday, August 30, 2007

Vertigo Pop Tokyo 2, page 16

Seth was a master of perspective.
In the Vertigo Pop:Tokyo series, his people are cartoonish, but his backgrounds are quite subtle and realistic. They have a very different feel from the backgrounds in his superhero comic books. But everywhere in his work, he used perspective to tell the story in the clearest way possible.
In this page, for example, he starts out with a long shot of the school (where students are surreptitiously smoking outside). Then we see a narrow low-angle picture of Maki being attacked by a girl, followed by a large overhead picture of the fracas that breaks out in gym class. From overhead it is easy to see the ballet of movement of the fight. The next two frames are ultra close-ups of 1) her friend Mizumi's hair sticking out of a rolled-up mat, and 2) four legs, one of them in a knee brace following closely on the other two. Then there is a squarish straight-on picture of Maki kicking the knee brace of the offending girl. A tiny frame shows Maki seen from below, leaping out like Superman, overturning gym equipment everywhere, and the large unframed picture shows where she leaped: right into the middle of the group of girls who had mistreated her friend. That scene is shown from just above eye level, where we can view her fury with maximum intensity.
In each of these panels, Seth used the "camera angle" as an aid to tell the story. In this particular story, the words tell us Why, but What happens is entirely comprehensible just from the pictures.
I promise not to go over every page, frame by frame, but it is instructive to do it occasionally to see how carefully each one was worked out.

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