Sunday, November 7, 2010

How Word & Image Work Together: Brian Fies Edition

Last Thursday, the graphic novelist Brian Fies, was a guest speaker in "Introduction to Design". He is the man behind the books Mom's Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? He discussed why he chose to use comics as his medium of communication. The main reason is because he had been interested in comics for a long time and it just impressed him.


He compared comics with rock music. The words of rock music would not function as well as they do without the music behind them. It was a great comparison because comics work the same way. The images in comics are further explained to the audience by the words in bubbles or in boxes, which often give background information. In this combination, the words and pictures add up to more than the sum of their parts. In other words, there are dependent upon one another.

Fies' book entitled Mom's Cancer is based on the real life situation of his family dealing with the effects of exactly what the title suggests. Because the topic is very heavy, he had to come up with clever ways to get his points across to his readers. He was very successful in his attempts.

Word and image complemented each other in the book. This can be related to Gestalt theory because, the audience has to look at the entire piece in order to fully understand it. Every part matters.

Fies also uses symbolism and metaphors to get his point across. His words were that, he "plays with the line of ridiculous and dead serious." One example of this is the page in the book where he illustrates his mom walking a tightrope in which he is trying to show his readers that "balancing medication is like walking a tightrope" (this line is also clearly written on the page). Again, comics transcend words and drawings; neither has meaning without the other. How would readers know that this was the point unless it was otherwise stated?

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