WSU Art Museum: Alex Hagen

Art covers a broad range of disciplines, and one of the more fascinating genres of art style is depicted in comic books. The defining aspect of comic-style art is its ability to tell a story through a sequence of panels. Though usually separated by space, each comic panel builds upon the ones before it, the various parts of the series coming together to tell a story. Also, other aspects such as drawing style, text bubbles, and narrative boxes help create a cohesive identity for comics as a whole.

“Coffee”, a comic found in the Dune comic book at the WSU Art Museum

On our trip to the WSU Art Museum, one such example of comic book prowess really spoke to me. Looking through the various examples reminded me of my childhood, flipping through comic books and magazines, drinking in the stories they told through page after page of action and antics. Garfield, Calvin and Hobbes, and all the various superhero comics available to me were devoured in a rush, with long nights of reading with a light under the covers or in the backseat while my parents ran errands. Old-school comics hold a near and dear place in my heart, that can’t be replaced by the digital and technological marvels of today.

Flipping through the examples in the Dunes comic book, I happened upon this page. The whimsical aspect of this page was greatly accentuated by the exaggerated actions taken by the rabbit; what might otherwise be interpreted as a simple overreaction to the taste of coffee is now a subject of comedic value. Though there isn’t much text, what little there is becomes a useful tool to help the reader understand the rest of the comic. Through this short sentence “Ah!/Coffee!/How I love/the way you smell/but not/the way/you taste”, a whole rollercoaster of emotions is conveyed to the reader in a short sequence. The font used lends itself to the comic; the sans-serif, hand-drawn letters fit well with the organic, fun, lighthearted theme of the comic. If the text was typed rather than handwritten, I believe that the effect would be drastically different. While I am pursuing an entirely different kind of text for my project, I think that it’s important to keep in mind how the context of the piece itself can be affected by the appearance of the text and to incorporate my text as well as I possibly can. I myself am trying to create a typeface heavily influenced by Hebrew script; perhaps handwriting the font myself would be an avenue of approach that I can consider. I’ll remember this lesson as I move forward!

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