Wednesday, October 29, 2008

McCloud part 2

The blog that I chose to review was --belonging to Allison Bondie. She reviewed a comic called "The Silencer" by Mike Heronime and Tony Pacitti, in which some sort of murder or kidnapping plot is detoured into a story of two young boys finding a briefcase containing a gun-- possibly in a dream sequence?

Allison wrote about the transitions between frames, which were much different than conventional comics. Because the comic was online, the authors chose to include a couple frames on each page, seperated by the normal white space, and the following frames on different pages. In other words, the entire comic cannot be seen at once. Pages have to be "flipped" to unveil the complete story. This method made for a much more suspensful story. Not that people like to jump ahead and skip frames within the comic itself, but the process of clicking "Next Page" roughly 15 times, made for a more intriguing experience. To quote Allison, "more closure and direct participation from the reader," is included in this comic.

The storytelling technique primarily used throughout "The Silencer" is of the "subject-to-subject" persuasion. Because each page contains one to three frames, each frame is of another subject. Moment-to-moment would be entirely too long for a story of this kind. The authors also use scene-to-scene-- especially in the beginning of the story, which depicts a criminal plot unfolding.

McCloud part 2

Monday, October 27, 2008

online comic

The comic that I chose to feature is by Scott R. Kurtz and can be found at I found this particular comic strip on Scott McCloud's website. Scott McCloud is the author of the book, Understanding Comics The Invisible Art, and is considered somewhat of an authority on comics itself. In his book, McCloud delves into the unappreciated realms of comic book history, structure, meaning, etc. I used the word "unappreciated" because after reading the first several chapters of Understanding Comics, I found an appreciation for those things, which was previously nonexistent.

Getting back to Scott R. Kurtz and his comic strip-- I chose this particular one because I liked the way it was illustrated. It is black and white, which I have just decided that I prefer, and the characters are very cartoonish. When I say cartoonish, I mean that they resemble actual people, but their features are exaggerated-- much like the characters in Family Guy or The Simpsons.

The comic depicts three characters: two seemingly more mature and experienced adults in dark jackets who may or may not be vampire slayers, and one younger, nervous, and wet-behind-the-ears apprentice or tag-along with hair in his face. As the story opens, there is a sense of urgency as the young man is screaming to his friends that he has just killed a vampire. His gestures show that he is yelling at them from afar, and the moisture leaping off his face adds to his excitement. In addition to the exclamation point at the end of the text and the subject matter itself, the frame's mood is further established by the streaks surrounding this young man. As McCloud talks about in chapter four of his book, the streak are there to show motion and/or excitement. The character is moving quickly into the audience's line if vision, and whatever is actually behind him is not as important as establishing the mood of this frame.

Another aspect of comics that McClound touches on in chapter four is the issue of time and space. This particular comic is only four frames long, and suggests a relatively short period of time in which it takes place. The story's narrative is linear and does not appear to be broken up by passing time, whether it be a few minutes or a few hours. We know this because the space between each frame is the same size; not very big at all, and the setting seems to be the same throughout.

Understanding Comics also explains six different styles of transitions that comics use-- the Kurtz comic uses the transition style of "subject-subject." This is evident from its use of a single setting, the showcase of different characters in three of the four frames, and from what Kurtz asks the audience to do between each frame. The small amount of blank space between frames represents the passing of time, in which things happen. Because we know that little time is taken in the telling of this comic's story, we can fill in the blank spaces with minor movements, achieveing what McCloud calls "closure."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Interesting/Compelling web page

The web page that I chose as compellingly laid-out was that home page for This is one of my favorite sites to visit when I have free time at work. There are interesting, hilarious, sick, and sometimes all three types of crime related stories that feature police reports, mug shots, etc.

The site's home page features an olive, almost GI, green background that is plain and large enough to suggest a sort of secretiveness that the rest of the site supports. Balance is exemplified by the always centered along the top sixth or so of the page banner ad. Beneath it, after a space of GI green and centered in the middle of the page is a black file folder- one that would hold confidential documents. Further examples of balance are the two smaller, orange folders placed atop the large black centerpiece. One is a bit larger than the other and sits on the mid-to-upper half of the left side. The other, slightly smaller and unfolded in the opposite direction, is seated in the lower right-hand corner of the black folder. Though the two orange folders are different in size, they balance each other, whereas a single orange folder would draw much more attention to itself. Additionally, the orange folders are complimented by some orange, as well as red lettering. The orange and red text stands out against the black background, contrasting the different colors. The other headings and photos atop the black file folder and wither brightly colored or surrounded by a thin, white box; adding to the contrast. This works well because your eyes notice the sharp contrast, thus the links stand out.

The page and site itself are a metaphor. The site is an online directory, or library, of information about strange, compelling, and infamous crime stories. The home page extends a feeling of top secret information being made available to its users- like we are snooping around the CIA's filing cabinet.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peer Review vol. 2

The second time around, peer review was about the same; not all that helpful. Using WetPaint was a cool change because I had the opportunity to review the entire class-- not just the two other people from my group. This was fun because I could at least skim through some other essays and get a feel for what everyone else was doing. It was interesting to see all of the different routes that people chose, without necessarily reviewing their work.

The actual reviewing process was easier with GoogleDocs because I was able to leave comments, instead of changing my font color and writing within someone's text, as with WetPaint. The most frustrating part about using WetPaint came after I finished my first review of a classmate's essay. As I clicked "save," WetPaint told me that someone else was editing the text and we had to merge our comments, which meant rewriting them.

As with the first peer review session, I wish that I would have recieved more input regarding my essay. The GoogleDoc session only lent me the help of two classmates, while the WetPaint session only gave me one. The person who reviewed my Style Rules essay was pretty helpful and gave some good examples, however, it would have been nice to see comments from more than one person.

WetPaint is a cool tool, but I think it was wrong for this particular project. I liked the idea of reviewing essays from people not in our class, but the amount of people included was so large that not everyone's essay recieved adequate attention.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

what is everyone else saying??

I've never been one to follow blogs until now. Reading everyone else's blogs was the most fun I've had doing homework for this class. It was interesting to see different perspectives and reactions to the assigned readings because some people openly voice their opinions in class, while others like myself, usually do not. The beauty of a blog is that it gives a person the chance to be creative with their feedback and take thier time when answering. The thought of someone finishing a chapter in Williams' book and blogging about their sheer hatred for what they just read is also amusing.
Most of my classmates, as did I, had mixed feelings for each of the books. One quote that I found to be true came from Allison Bondie's blog. She said, "I prefer S&W's short commands that are accessible and come ready for interpretation." One of the reasons that I enjoyed Strunk and White's book so much, besides the illustrations, was that each section was short, precise, and to the point. There was no room left for questions when those two men were finished with a rule. Even if there had been, a person probably would have been scolded for asking.
A contrary opinion about Strunk and White that I also found interesting came from Susan McCracken's blog, in which she said, "some rules were merely their own opinions." One thing that I found in reading the first several pages of that book was that Strunk and White were very opinionated, and sometimes it seemed as if opinions became lost among rules and you had to be careful in interpreting them. Thanks to Strunk and White, I now feel a presence watching over me as I write - just waiting for an infinitive to be split.
After reading Strunk and White I was ready for a gentler excursion, which is probably why Williams was a nice change of pace. As Britney Hamilton Reed said in her blog, "Williams' Style Toward Clarity and Grace is more of a suggestion." I found that opinion to be true. In fact, I think I used the word "suggestion" in my blog as well. Williams, although dry and at times seemingly without end, was a much more laid back read. Anne Keinath's blog stated that Williams' book was "a lot less demanding and judgmental."
I found that most of my classmates liked Strunk and White as a reference guide, but grew tired of the scolding. Similarly, the feelings on Williams' book were also mixed. His suggestive manner and helpfulness were appreciated, while many people wanted to throw it out the window after reading a few grueling chapters.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Comparing Strunk/White and Williams

Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams is similar to Strunk and White's The Elements of Style in its purpose. Both texts strive toward making their readers into better writers. Examples of proper and improper usage lined the pages along with rules and suggestions about why certain writing is labeled good or bad. My blog about the Strunk and White book was mostly a positive review, but not unlike reading the text, my feelings about it varied near the end. I wrote that Strunk and White's book was enjoyable and a bit humorous, easing along the reading of usage rules. The more I read, however, the more I grew tired of the tedious rules and advice/orders. Williams' book puts forward extensive information and uses many examples to illustrate usage, but in a less aggressive manner. Williams more or less explains what seems to be the best option for conveying a particular piece of writing, and suggests what to do with it. Compared with Strunk and White, Williams' text was less obtrusive in its explanation. For this reason, I thought that Williams' advice was more useful. His method of asserting a point was unlike the scolding that I recieved from Strunk and White. Reading Williams was like reading suggestions rather than rules. I also liked that many of his examples of both good and bad writing were entire paragraphs, or at least a few sentences long. Stylistic suggestion is better exemplified in longer text because you get a better feel for the words and what they are trying to accomplish. I felt like Williams was sitting next to me in a library reading what I had written, making some notes, and offering them as help. Strunk and White felt like the drawing that someone made in class; an old man holding a ruler and standing in front of a blackboard (not dry/erase) and telling me what I did wrong. This method was somewhat effective though because Strunk and White's style was intense and therefore stuck in my head. It is sort of like when a dog soils the carpet and you rub his face in it to tell him that what he did was wrong. The particular version that I had was illustrated, which made it much easier to read. The illustrations were soothing, like the off-white colored paint in a dentist's office. Had I purchased the text without illustration, the reading may have gone much differently.