Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sound Effects, Part 2

The question to ask from Popeye is, "Which came first, the CRACK or the SOCK?" How does Segar depict time in that panel? I suggested that there's a lag, a cushioning effect, but there's also a muddling of sequence. The sound effects taken as a whole are meant to signify the occurrence of fighting. Playing the fight out punch-by-punch, however, is certainly beyond us. We know that the fight was a doozy and Popeye the winner (from the next panel), but the style of the fight -- Segar's speciality -- is consciously withheld and curtained behind the quiet panel of noisy sound effects. Perhaps there was nothing for Popeye to overcome that he hadn't once before; perhaps style is reserved for matched combat or grand triumphs.


(From Lapham's Young Liars.) David Lapham in a single panel also combines violence, sound effects, and the condensation of time. The garbage truck pretty much takes up the bulk of the panel and the collision becomes the focus of the story (rescued by Sadie!). The VROOOM! signifies the speed of the truck, offstage as much as on, and the KRUNCH! signifies the crash. The KRUNCH!, however, is layered in the middle, and the sound at this moment reflects the convergence of multiple vehicles and multiple sounds. The brakes are signified by the SKREE, while the bullet fire is depicted by two BLAM!s, one muffled by the crash. The great thing about Lapham's BLAM!s is that they have corresponding sound effects for where the bullets land: a KRSH and a PING on the garbage truck. One must read diagonally to understand the goings-on of this panel. Lapham gives us planar time: there's a specific sequence of temporal events, but the order needs to be figured out, which makes us move us here and there across the panel. First plane: garbage truck and car. Second plane: bullets and rebound, enemies and good guys. Third plane: Danny's retrospective narration right in the middle of it all ("Of course she came back"), belying confusion.

Anyone can be a formalist! Next up: Jeff Smith's RASL.

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