I was tagged by
I shall tag littlebirdblue .
This post is from Friday, February 16, 2007, when I was anxiously awaiting the release of "300". I'm now anxiously awaiting the DVD release of "300" - same frame of mind!
How Comics Will Change Film
Graphic novels are to mass market publishing as romance novels are to commercial fiction. Comics, sniff the literati. Trash, agree the chattering class.
Multibillion-dollar industry, crow DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics and Fantagraphics Books. Back at ya, cheer Avon Books, Pocket Books, Ballantine Books, Bantam Dell Publishing Group and the Grand Mammy of them all, Harlequin Enterprises. Comics fans and romance readers are far too enthusiastic about their favorite artists and writers to care much about naysayers. While romance continues to dominate 50% of fiction sales, its reputation is undergoing a bit of a shift with the emergence of women's fiction as a genre.
So too with the graphic novel. If the uninitiated were to pick up a graphic novel, the level of 'graphic' and the darkness of the novel would make most people fear for the children. Until they realized that this 'comic' was never meant for children. Graphic novels are more like the storyboards for a film. As with shots composed for film, each story panel must stand alone as a means of telling the narrative, showing mood, developing character. Unlike film, the story panel is a static, two-dimensional surface, which encourages comic artists to create the sensation of movement, depth, energy and mood in a rectangular frame.
Which brings me to the excitement of the upcoming "300". This is the second film based on Frank Miller's graphic novels. "Sin City" was the first, and that captured the look and feel of the graphic novels to the degree that it took film in a whole new direction. So many of those shots set-ups pulsated with originality and a completely fresh way to inhabit the frame. Even before the edits, the images tumbled off the screen and roared over the seats, hopefully into the minds of filmmakers everywhere. And now we have "300", which faithfully utilizes significant story panels and recreates them precisely for the screen.
Directors Robert Rodriguez and Zack Snyder have made the first footprints in the snow. I'm hoping many other filmmakers will take a second look at the way comics see the world. Cinema is a visual medium, after all. There are infinite ways to shoot a script, so many more than long shot, medium shot, close-up, tracking shot. Studying graphic novels gives me more colors for my palette. Since I tend to see the world in vivid technicolor, I welcome any ideas that can translate my narrative into an almost physical experience for the viewer. Of course, being Frank Miller stories, "300" and "Sin City" are not for those who wouldn't welcome the sensation of being kicked in the gut.
I think any story would benefit from heightened visual dynamics, even a love story. Especially a love story. Perhaps the new frontier of romantic film would be akin to feeling a kiss form on a viewer's lips. Dynamic visuals would do that. Let's pull some other shots out of the bag, directors. The 50% share of fiction buyers who love romance would translate into an awful lot of coin at the box office. But we want to feel that lover's breath on our necks, not watch another lucky someone and see her sighing responses. Anyone willing to step up to the plate?