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Fiona Staples, Saga, and splash pages

(So right now my plan for dealing with my Saga feelings is just to make a whole bunch of observations which are maybe obvious but which I nonetheless don't see anyone making. For being a hugely popular comic, I've seen very little actual discussion about it, what it is, what it's doing, or even what's happening in it or how its plot elements fit together. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places. Anyway, more observations of dubious value forthcoming.)

One of the things about Saga that I think is neither good nor bad (though some might disagree) but definitely different from a lot of comics, especially mainstream superhero ones, is how simple the page design is. Greg Burgas at Comic Book Resources has been analyzing comics art every day this year (which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND), and in the scans he's chosen of significant comics artists, there's a lot of pyrotechnics going on in page design. Staples forgoes all that. She never goes for scenes bleeding into each other or overlapping panels. Her panels rarely even have anything but square corners (or corners that are clipped, like photos - I guess for visual interest?), and they pretty much ALWAYS read left to right and top to bottom. IMO it's one of the many reasons Saga is such a great comic to start people with - as comics go, it is super easy to read.

She's also fonder of splash pages than most artists I can think of. It feels a little self-indulgent sometimes, because the story doesn't usually need full pages devoted to a single panel - it's not like we're using the extra space to show off a battle scene or spaceship schematics or anything like that. But man, she uses them so well. Frequently she introduces new characters that way, which means we get to luxuriate in her absolutely gorgeous character designs. The introductions of The Stalk and Gwendolyn are both great examples. Another one is these guys, the fishy journalist boys in love from Jetsam:

I love everything about the character designs here. They have completely different builds, completely different fashion sense, and yet not in a way that makes those facts feel as though they define the characters. Not that we have a great sense of what defines them instead; they haven't gotten tons of screen time, and there hasn't been a ton to distinguish them so far. (I'm not actually even positive which is Upsher and which is Doff, although I could go look.) But nonetheless I think Staples did a great job of making them visually distinctive without immediately tagging them as "the urbane one" and "the rough-and-tumble one," despite their dress.

Also, come on, those feet and ears are great. And the bubbly speech bubbles!

More often, though, Staples uses the splash pages as emphasis. Often they function as reveals - of new characters, changed situations, what have you. Other times, you know, we really just need a full page of The Brand in her tie and crash helmet, saying pithy things about governments and PR.

Below we have one of those changed situations. It's also the last page of #24, so beware huge honking spoilers, but ugh, this panel made me SO HAPPY.

MARKO + PRINCE ROBOT TEAM-UP. With Ghus and Yuma! I crave conversations of Marko and Prince Robot comparing notes about the war and their experiences. You have no idea. Although obviously we shouldn't expect this to end entirely happily, because there's Marko with his sword and shield. That's bound to mean bad news.

In any case, this is another example of a splash page used as a reveal - Marko and Prince Robot working together! Marko with weapons and a beard! Staples opens and closes every issue with a splash page, but some are more effective than others, and IMO this one is definitely in the top five closing pages.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC)
That last panel made me squee! As did *finally* seeing Lying Cat and The Will.

I haven't seen much meta on the series. I did find some wallpapers on Reddit; I have The Will & Lying Cat as my wallpaper at the moment! I'm hoping you find some meta, and you link me.

I actually blame you for hooking me on introducing me to Saga. And I've gotten a couple of my friends hooked; it's spreading!
Dec. 15th, 2014 11:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I see some squee of the capslock and !! variety, but not a lot of even the kind of descriptions I'm doing, much less real analysis (...as opposed to complex analysis? I'm sorry, these are math jokes).

Actually, there was one discussion here of the first three volumes, in particular a lot of talk about what the structure, with Hazel narrating, might mean for the book down the road. Interesting stuff.

I actually blame you for hooking me on introducing me to Saga. And I've gotten a couple of my friends hooked; it's spreading!

Dec. 30th, 2014 11:05 am (UTC)
I'm just so excited to be caught up enough to be able to read this post :)

yay Saga. the end.
Dec. 31st, 2014 12:55 pm (UTC)

FYI, IDK if you saw but it looks like there will be some kind of week-long Saga fest on Tumblr at the end of January. So, maybe be thinking if you have any kind of meta/fic/graphics/general squee you might to share? :D
Jan. 5th, 2015 05:16 am (UTC)
We've already talked about this so just

EEEEEE back.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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