Scale is not difficult to find in many comics or graphic novels. Often times, artists use scale to create deeper understanding of the written work and/or to add drama to the visual elements of a story. In their book, Graphic Design: The New Basics, Ellen Lupton and Jennifer Cole Phillips explain that scale can be seen in two ways, subjectively and objectively.
In graphic novels, the author may draw the elements of the story in a way that translates the real-life dimensions of those objects onto the page. This makes the correlations between the real object and the representation of it more obvious. This is objective scale. Other times, the designer many rely more on the audience’s impression of an object’s size. This is subjective scale, which can make a comic more visually intriguing and thus connect with the reader’s emotions.
In his coming-of-age graphic novel, Blankets, Craig Thompson uses scale to convey the emotions of the main character. The story is in black and white, and Thompson relies on shading to create depth. In the portion of the story that is displayed (page 12), Craig and his brother have been fighting and their father comes in to scold them. The way Thompson has drawn the two boys in relation to their father is an example of relative scale. The smallness of the boys makes the father seem that much larger to them. The thin lines of the boys in relation to the massive arms and hands of the father, gives us readers the same feeling of fear and smallness that the boys are feeling. We can see this contrast very plainly in the last frame, as the father’s hand is huge, picking up his son by his shirt collar with ease. The shaded lines create depth and movement as we see his shirt being wrinkled and the lines of muscles in the father’s arm.