Wednesday, 15 November 2017
READER'S VOICE - "WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO CALL THIS POST, KID?"...
One thing that always annoyed me about British humour strips was when the characters were portrayed as being aware that they existed only in a comic strip that was read by 'real' people. If a character spoke directly to the reader, it told me that the writer had struggled to come up with a decent idea that particular week, or had simply taken the path of least resistance. I didn't mind it when it was a puzzle or activity page, and STEADFAST McSTAUNCH (or whoever) was inviting the reader to join the dots or colour in a picture - that was okay, but when it was part of a story, it could be irksome. I don't mind when a character is 'looking out' of a panel and speaking for the reader's benefit in an indirect way, but not when he's addressing the reader 'straight-on'. (Incidentally, I'm not talking about host-type, 'serious' strips like TALES Of The WATCHER, only humour ones.)
Even worse though, was when there'd be a speech balloon from off-panel, with a 'reader's voice' label advising us of the fact. What's wrong with just having a friend, neighbour, bystander, or passerby asking "How will you get your homework finished in time now, Roger?" instead of an intrusive comment from an imaginary reader? As I said in a previous post, this constant reminder that we're reading a comic ruins the sense of internal 'reality' required to make a strip believable. (Even 'funny' strips require an element of reality to accentuate the humour of the piece.)
Don't get me wrong though - a 'reader's voice' word balloon can sometimes be used to good effect on occasion, but it loses it's ability to surprise, amuse and entertain when it's the 'default setting', resorted to as a matter of course rather than for a specific and surreal effect.
So tell me - did this ever bug you as much as it did me, or am I 'shouting at the clouds' again? The comments section awaits (and awaits, and awaits, and awaits...).
(I couldn't be bothered searching through a pile of comics to try and find a suitable pictorial example, so I quickly drew the above one myself with a Sharpie fine marker. Remember, it's only a 'quickie'.)
Posted by Kid at Wednesday, November 15, 2017