Mainstream comics of today have grown in complexity of details in their images,compared to their dialogue. Modern super hero comics dictate a larger component of their resources to their imagery, as compared to golden aged comics. An example of this is a comparison of the two covers from the batman media.
Here, the two pictures are pretty much displaying the same subject but the art themselves is vastly different from each other, looking at the level of color in the golden aged comic shows a simple palate compared to the newer Batman which has a higher level of palate diversity. Also, the shading used in the golden age Batman is simple and almost completely absent in some areas, whereas shading is heavily focused in the recent cover. Another aspect of the comparison between the two is the level of text, existent and non-existent. Here, without text no attention is diverted away from the image. Without this diversion, does that mean we spend less time on that image?
My main concern is whether or not text in comics helps to emphasize the lack of attention readers give towards images in comics. On average, most people read at a rate of 250 words per minute, yet this number comes from pure text media. When there are images involved however, I predict that this number will drop. In other media for example movies, the director wants you to enjoy the scene at the rate in which the director wants you to enjoy it. In comics, you have the power to enjoy the image for as long as you like, but most average readers only give images a glancing view before turning the page. The amount of time artists put in towards their images, have no pay off with the amount of time a reader looks at their work. However, images with less detail but large quantities of text garner more time, thus in my argument a larger payoff. Payoff to me in this case is the amount of time the reader spends compared to the amount of time the creator spends on the work.
Taking a page from Watchmen, here this image has 289 words meaning it would take an average reading about 69 seconds to read from top left panel all the way down to the bottom right panel, reading just the words only and not viewing the images. Yet, looking at the level of detail on the page, many panels are very lacklustre and uneventful. Still because there are images, you will take more than 69 seconds to read, the images add more of the reader’s time to the page.
In total contrast, the image above from X-men (#5 – 11/17/10) is solely image based. How long did you spend looking at the image before continuing on? Was it 69 seconds? It’s highly doubtful. Still assuming the payoff is the amount of time spent on a page, compared to work spent, the artist has created a severe deficit. This deficit doesn’t mean that the image isn’t good or that it isn’t intricate, it’s just plainly the result of how readers view a page. So should there be an introduction of text to the page to grab more time from the reader per page? Or does that take the impact away from the scene? Coming back to the Batman covers, should there be text on both? Or is that type of payoff irrelevant?
– Ben Wong