Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bubbles and Gutters

The following is from a weekly column I write in the OCDSB Business & Learning Technologies e-Newsletter called Curriculum Connections.

This week I address:
Media Literacy 3.3 Conventions and Techniques; Reading 2. Understanding Form and Style

The comic and graphic novel genres have specific codes and conventions, just as text-based language does. Exclamation, question, and declaration (spoken, whispered) are clearly identified through the use of speech bubbles and formats that are as widely known as quotation, exclamation and question marks, and periods. Bitstrips defines these bubbles clearly for the student. A number of shared activities could be designed, such as create a comic with different speech bubbles and have an elbow partner fill in the text, or match different texts with the appropriate bubble.

Another important feature of panel writing is the space between the panels, called the gutter. The gutter can indicate the passage of time and indeed graphic novelists such as Scott McCloud will be very deliberate when deciding how large the space will be.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE! Reading 1.5 Making Inferences/Interpreting Texts
Another use of the gutters is for making inferences or predicting. Students can infer what has taken place to move the story from panel to panel, predict what will happen in the next panel or fill in missing panels. Working in small groups, students could storyboard a strip and then leave out a panel for other students to fill in.

Comic Life allows the ultimate manipulation of gutters.

For a detailed description of the codes and conventions of the comic genre, plus over 40 activities, check out “In Graphic Detail” by David Booth and Kathleen Lundy.

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