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  • Matt Johnson 13:38 on March 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Marvel & DC 

    It’s hard to look at graphic novels without exploring Marvel and DC, possibly the two biggest producers of graphic novels in America. They both use a traditional format, set out like comic books as most of their graphic novels are compilations of the weekly comic books that they produce. Both also produce mainly Superhero comics which have a particular set of traditions in their design and storyline which could be quite limiting to anyone who wanted to try and create a graphic novel, though nevertheless proves exceptionally popular with the graphic novel and comic reading audience.


    Marvel is a subsidiary of Walt Disney and is responsible for some of the best known superheroes in the world. Spiderman, Iron Man, The X-Men, Hulk, Captain America and many more are creations of Marvel comics.

    This double page spread from ‘The Amazing Spiderman’ features a ‘Barack Obama-like’ character. This is a common tool used by comic book producers to try and tie the comic back the real world and make it more believable. or acceptable. In terms of layout, the page is split up by boxes that move the eye across the page, giving a pace and indicating how the comic is supposed to be read. When compared to an older comic (below) you can see that layout and sch hasn’t really changed. They use larger boxes to portray the big event with the smaller ones giving detail and setting the surroundings. Text, which helps clarify and progress the story, is dealt with through speech bubbles, often putting the reader in the mind of the hero. Often you will also get a box of text which isn’t a speech bubble. This acts as an aside to fill the reader in on information that not all the characters will know, or to help set the scene for upcoming events.


    DC has a lot in common with Marvel. Like it’s rival it is mainly respnsible for superhero comics and has also produced some of the most well known superheros, such as Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. It is a subsidiary of Warner Brothers. DC is generally considered a little bit darker than Marvel by readers especially in the case of Batman, a hero who stalks the shadows rather than acting in the daylight.

    What we see in the Batman comics is the same style of layout as in Marvel, with boxes to progress the eye across the page and add the sense of pace. The text is dealt with in the same ways as well, however, Batman has a sidekick who also acts as a way for the writers to get Batman’s ideas across to the reader. Looking at the older comics you see a more muted colour tone, or restricted colour palette. This may be due to cost or speed of printing, but it adds an interesting style of its own. In the more modern strips there is full colour, and maybe a slightly different style to the drawing in that it is more detailed. This maybe due to the facilities available and modern technology, making comic books of this standard easier and quicker to produce in order to keep up with the weekly deadlines.

  • Matt Johnson 13:00 on March 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Graphic Novels 



    Graphic Novels bare many similarities with comics and comic strips, in that the pictorial content is more important to telling the story than the worded content. However graphic novels tend to be longer and more in depth than either of their ‘cousins’, and as the name suggest, they are more like a traditional novel in content than the more episodic comic book or simple comic strip. Many graphic novels are based on comic books or are compilations of comic books.


    The above is not always true however.

    graphic novel
    n.  A novel whose narrative is related through a combination of text and art

    Many ‘untraditional’ forms of the graphic novel exist, whereby they are not set out as comic strips but in other, experimental ways.

  • Matt Johnson 00:20 on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Same Word, Different Meaning 

    Another point of interest is about words that sound or are spelt to same, but have different meanings. These are called homophones and present me with a decision. Is the context that a word appears in enough for the reader to determine the meaning of the word? For example, the word run may mean to run (as in race) or to run (as in operate). A symbol depicting a man running would give the same conclusion, which is hopefully a “run”, but does the context allow the reader to successfully determine which for is meant?

    This goes further when you take into account tenses, i.e. past, present, future, and a few other circumstances that may lead to a misunderstanding. However, is understanding that important? Is ambiguity and subtlety more interesting?

  • Matt Johnson 00:13 on February 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    I would like to try and develop this project into a non-linguistic form of symbols/hieroglyphs. The idea of a universal ‘code’ is interesting, however to properly do this I need to take into account sentence structure etc in other languages, since this will change the way my symbols are read. To do this I will need to learn more about linguistics in international languages, in order to accommodate them into my system.

    For now, however, I intend to focus on creating a non-linguistic form of English, since I don’t know enough about international linguistics. My target will then be to experiment and see if I am able to expand it to accommodate other languages successfully, but I don’t know at the moment how/if this will work properly.

  • Matt Johnson 16:16 on February 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    Having looked into a hieroglyph solution to the brief a couple of things have occurred to me.


    I like the look of black & white. It gives a very universal, instruction manual feel and removes some of the decisions that may need to made about which colours should be used where. However, the use of colour does give me more variety and more opportunities when designing the individual pictograms. For example, ‘Woman In Black Dress With Blue Person Shoes’ in black and white may present a few problems since colour is a prominent theme in the title. I’m sure I could find a way around this, yet if I was to allow colour, or at least minimal colour the pictogram for ‘blue’, as an example, becomes quite simple. A blue square.


    Another interesting idea is whether I should look at individual pictograms for each word in the title or whether I should concentrate more on the overall meaning of the title. An example of this is for the title ‘ Brave Men Run In My Family’. In particular the last two words ‘my family’ could be portrayed by two separate symbols, for ‘my’ and for ‘family’ or combined into one symbol that conveys both. This becomes more interesting when I consider who I aim the designs at. If I wish to make the illustrations universally understandable I may need to combine words into a single picture, since in other languages sentence structure changes, which would alter the way my illustrations were read.


    Another question is whether to use text in my illustrations. The point of the idea is to convey the titles in a non-language format, however text contradicts this. I do like the idea of using phonetics just from a purely aesthetic purpose, but if it doesn’t work with my central point maybe I’ll have to leave them out. Another way I could use text would be to have the written title or phonetic words underneath the illustrations, but in multiple languages. I understand then that this wouldn’t be non-lingual, but multilingual which is still quite limiting in terms of how many languages there are in existence.

  • Matt Johnson 13:42 on February 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply  


    This project, to create images based on a title with no prior knowledge of what the title is for, is an interesting. So far I see the way to proceed as a literal representation of the words in the title, such as with dingbats.

    Juli Gudehus has created modern hieroglyphs to retell the story of creation as told in the Bible. They are a collection of pictograms and an easily recognised system of symbols that make up the story.

    Each ‘hieroglyph’ is self contained and stands separate from those next to it due to the way they are designed. However they are also drawn into passages or sentences by an exterior box which encapsulates the relevant pictures, in a similar manner to an Egyptian cartouche. I find the use of everyday symbols and corporate logo’s a particularly interesting addition to the work as it begins to critique the role of such corporations in modern life.

  • Matt Johnson 17:57 on February 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    60 Minute Project 

    We’ve been asked to observe and record something for 60minutes. I’ve been thinking about activities I might do for an hour and how they might be recorded.


    Sport and exercise is quite important to me as both a way of keeping fit and also as a form of relaxation and stress relief.


    I like to cook decent food and I find the process quite therapeutic. I could document the whole experience of preparing a meal and eating it (which may take around about an hour), observing the things I do to cook a meal and the how it effects me.

    This could be done in the form of a traditional recipe, using typography to emphasise various aspects of the process and different elements of what I am doing. Another idea is to make the whole thing illustrative, maybe as a sort of illustrated set of instructions or even comic strip. Also i could look into the science behind a meal and document the actual chemical effects of a meal on my body, for example the way carbohydrate is broken down to give me energy, the way my body digests the food etc and document this.


    I could look at the last hour of daylight and observe and document the way day becomes night.I could do this as a film, series of photos, stop frame animation with a photo every 30 seconds or a time lapse film. If I did it near a busy road I could also use the change in cars with or with out headlights on as part of the observation.

    Alternatively I could do it the other way around and do the first hour of daylight, or even reverse it so that it looks like the first hour but everything would be moving in reverse.

    • Neil 21:20 on February 14, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Don’t try to think about the outcome too much (where have you heard that before!) – observe, record, document – – and work with what you have….

  • Matt Johnson 16:02 on January 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Final Piece Photos 

    After talks with the tutors I decided to make my questionnaire more detailed to increase the annoyance of having it shredded.

    In these pictures you can see someone filling out a questionnaire and the results.

  • Matt Johnson 19:44 on January 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Final Film 

  • Matt Johnson 19:22 on January 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    Photo’s Of Final Project 

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