Time & Motion: Elise Detloff

While being quite a basic comic, Perfect Example by John Porcellino is a coming-of-age story that represents movement in a static, 2-dimensional space very well.

Being able to portray motion, the movement of bodies, and the passage of time can be a challenge for many artists. Being able to have movements look natural when something inherently doesn’t move can be a challenge, but motion can be both literal and implied. By utilizing scale, transparency, color, layers, and even just changing a position from one drawing to the next, motion can be implied and interpreted by the audience.



A page illustrating a young John Porcellino riding his skateboard through town to a book exchange. (John Porcellino, Perfect Example, Chris Oliveros, 2005)

Take Porcellino’s graphic novel for example.  The first and most important concept that Porcellino uses to represent motion is cropping. We see this used in panels 4 and 6. In both these panels the main character, the author, is placed in the bottom right corner. This placement allows John to appear to be moving into and out of the frame. Placement in general also plays a large roll. In the fifth panel, John isn’t cropped out of the frame, but he is standing on the far right side and is facing the door of the book exchange, indicating that he is moving in that direction.


Porcellino also utilizes repetition. The reader sees 4 panels of John on a skateboard with changing backgrounds, this implies he is moving to new areas and has moved when we see him every new panel. An interesting side observation is that the road background in the first panel is even curved up towards the top left section of the frame, guiding the readers eye in that direction.

Speaking of lines, Porcellino uses them in nearly every skateboard panel. The dotted lines in the first panel act like a stereotypical pirate map, showing the path taken by John. In panel two, the lines act as a puff of air to show a kick off, the lines signify the way our surrounding blur into horizontal-like lines when we move quickly, and so on.

The quote from Graphic Designs: the New Basics that says, “Motion can be implied as well as literal…Artists have long sought ways to represent the movement of bodies and the passage of time within the realm of static, 2-dimensional space” means that while an image may not be moving, the concepts and context clues used by the artist can imply movement which will in turn be interpreted by the reader based on prior and common knowledge.


About elisedetloff

I am a student attending Washington State University and this blog is a place to upload and view various projects created for my Com 210 class.
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