Read Between the Lines

You read that right, and it means exactly what you think it does. But only because you do. Confused? Don’t be. Closure, as discussed in writing, research, and technology, is what happens between the panels. not just in comics, but in all forms of communication. If a person told you to, “read between the lines,” you wouldn’t need to ask which lines they were talking about, you’d simply use your understanding of the phrase to extract meaning (and respond accordingly, of course). As McCloud points out in Blood in the Gutter , we build stories based on what we already understand and fill in the spaces accordingly. It could be something as complicated as a murder in a comic fight

 

or as simple as knowing that when ‘t’ comes after ‘a’ it makes the word ‘at’. This understanding helps every single person in their every day life to understand what occurs around them.

Closure can also be changed from what is usually understood. How does the mind react when put in a situation it did not know it would be in? In many cases, hilariously. As Ashley DeBella-McNem pointed out in her tweet  on Tuesday, messing with a person’s understanding can have funny effects on the message of a well known comic like Garfield. These examples often don’t give a story to the reader, but more often take any essence of a story away from the strip due to the lack of anything happening between the panels.

One anti-hero who is a great study for closure is the anti-hero Wade Winston Wilson, or Deadpool. He so perfectly exemplifies what closure is by completely disregarding what a comic book hero is supposed to do. Sure you can tell when he shoots his gun, someone is most likely dying in between the panels, but other times, he doesn’t fit so perfectly in one panel. He may feel the need to walk into the gutter and explain a few things to the reader. And more often than not, this explanation further confuses the situation and sheds absolutely no light on what could possibly be happening between those two panels.

Another fast rising example of closure-confusion is a very recent occurrence, and doesn’t have a single name yet. For all intents and purposes they will be called “noscope” or “Shrekt” videos here for simplicity sake, but there are many variations of the model. These videos use internet memes, poor animations, sound-bits, and music over preexisting video or audio files to create strange and usually disturbing video. Let’s watch:

This video demonstrates the odd, new style and has the basis of a story, but all the elements have been thrown off. For almost a year, there has been a strange cult following of the Shrek films and this video reflects that fad. This is a very tame example of this genre where as the next clip is very over the top (language/loud):

This video uses more memes and poor animation to poke fun at the first person shooter games and how engrossed in skill people become. Both of these videos show the odd new developments in media but still manage to have some small, if not confused, closure.

But why does it matter?

Because all of Garfield’s strange adaptions, Deadpool, and even the “noscope” and “Shrekt” videos perfectly exemplify how flexible closure is. Even though most of the Garfield comics make almost no sense, websites still run those comics and people still pay attention to them. Deadpool is gaining fame at an exponential rate and even had a game released last year. These two new video memes are only two of the millions that have been posted to Youtube already. The reason closure is so flexible is because to understand something, a receiver simply needs to know a few key points of a piece. In the future, dare to be strange and walk off the beaten path. Thanks to the internet, someone, somewhere will understand you, and have closure.

 

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7 thoughts on “Read Between the Lines

  1. I enjoyed how you went into detail about closures and their meanings. I am glad that my tweet was helpful to your blog post as well. Originally it was easy for me to see how changing Garfield in a comic strip could dramatically change the events and outcome of the comic. However when putting closure into a different context such as those “noscope” or “Shrekt” videos I was completely thrown off. I have never seen a video like that before but after your further explanation it makes sense. The adaptation of the original copy speaks to people, like the adaptation of Garfield did to many others. It makes sense because we can as you say “read between the lines” and see what message the creator was attempting to convey.

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  2. I like how you said that closure is flexible there someone around the world will most likely get what you are trying to convey if not they can create their own closure. I had to do this for the “Sherki” video. I had no idea what the closure was suppose to be about but I created my own closure which made perfect sense to me. I decided that Sherk died at the end…closure!

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  3. I really enjoyed your approach toward closure. I think it’s important to know what it is and how to make these “connections” when reading/watching anything. These closures and connections are what build a person’s understanding of the text. I had a difficult time making the connections watching the two videos, but that’s because I have no background in the first person shooter games that you talked about. So clearly knowing about your text is essential to creating some closure.

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  4. I like how you linked closure with intertextuality. Without previous knowledge of the subject matter, you wouldn’t know how to make the connections. I also thought the videos were very interesting and different.
    Plus the mention of DeadPoole as an almost anti-hero was brilliant. The fact that our generation lives in and for innuendo makes understanding closure a piece of cake.
    And while sometimes these assumptions lead us way off course, as mentioned before, we have created a whole new story with a subtext of meaning that only ones with prior knowledge to the original may understand.

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  5. I love the garfield without garfield comics- seeing him alone in the panels makes him seem like a schizophrenic or having severe depression. It completely alters the objective of the comics from their wholesome story arcs from an earlier time to a commentary of a lone man who doesn’t leave his house.

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  6. Closure really is just another word for interpretation. We have to interpret what happened between panels or scenes in order to understand, and our interpretations will be based off of our previous knowledge on the subject, our culture, and all of our past experiences. No two people will interpret something exactly the same way because no two people have exactly the same experiences and feelings towards something. Sure, often we have similar ideas but how we formed those ideas is not the same. People love to change things because they want to relate to it better and they want to see their own interpretations come to life.

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  7. Gabrille above stated, “I like how you linked closure with intertextuality. Without previous knowledge of the subject matter, you wouldn’t know how to make the connections.” I could not state this better myself if I tried. For me, comics have always been extremely hard to understand. I am not sure if it is because I do not take interest in them or what. After reading your post however, I better understand how they are set up and what the links between each panel or scene means and why it is there. Just as an image, comics are interpreted differently depending on the viewer. For me, I often find comics humorous and engaging because of the art at hand – the drawings and images are so creative, and usually done in such a small space. But aside from that, I often forget the meaning or loose focus half way through because of what I am observing. Overall, I think your post did an excellent job in helping me better understand closure and the idea with comics.

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