30 August 2009

.:Time in the Gutter:.

Chapter three, “Blood in the Gutter”, covered the concepts of closure and our use of our five senses to relate to comics. McCloud presents the theory he created as a young kid “that the whole world was just a show put on for my [McCloud’s] benefit, that unless I was present to see things, they just ceased to exist”. He continues to say that if people just have a little bit of faith, they can assume what’s out in the unseen world. McCloud gives the example of never traveling to Morocco, but trusting that there is indeed such a place. He also explains the “gutter” in this chapter, which is the space between panels, and the six types of panel-to-panel transitions. They include: moment-to-moment, action-to-action, subject-to-subject, scene-to-scene, aspect-to-aspect, and the non-sequitur.

McCloud’s next chapter, “Time Frames”, covers how time plays a role in comics. It also briefly explains how sound has its own effect as well and how a panel “acts as a sort of general indicator that time or space is being divided”. The images contained in the panels, though, are considered more important in the defining of this time and space than the panels themselves.

The gutter is what sparked my attention the most in chapter three. I find it rather interesting how in the blanks between panels, we start to create a story of our own. Through this, I can only imagine how many different interpretations are formed. It’s like the example of the guy about to commit murder with the axe. In between the panels, we all visualize how the murder is committed. This image we develop in our heads consists of “who let it drop”, “how hard the blow”, “who screamed”, etc. The answers to these questions could be, and most likely are different from person to person. This concept truly awes me because of it’s relation to pure imagination – which indeed, we all possess.

In chapter four, I learned how I perceive time presented in a single panel. Instead of each panel representing a single moment in time, I found that every idea found in a panel represents a single moment in time. This interpretation is still a little underdeveloped, though. For example, on page 95, McCloud drew a panel in which a group of family members or friends are together in a single room, all holding a conversation continued from what the first character had stated. Uncle Henry told his nephew and the girl with him to smile. This itself, although only a portion of the panel, represented a single moment in time. Same thing with the girl laughing and so on and so forth.


  1. I liked the example you used in the last paragraph. Nice job!

  2. I agree with you on the concept of gutters. It gives us readers a chance to create our own story

  3. It does, and I think that's what makes comics interesting for a lot of people. It gives them the opportunity to fit the story to their liking.

  4. Right on, M and S! One of the things that sets comics apart as a story-telling medium is it's ability to engage the reader (even only passively; where as video games engage the "reader" actively).

    S, I really think you're hitting on one of my main complaints with McCloud's ideas and theories surrounding closure and his definition of comics when you bring up how "only a portion of the panel, represented a single moment in time."