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Page history last edited by Ronald Briones Alexy 8 years, 1 month ago

Duncan and Smith, authors of The Power of Comics, propose that comics involve a specialized form of communication; that there is a process that involves the ideas that the writer wants to convey to the reader, and through several channels, as in how the story is encapsulated, or creative decisions the editor makes,  the message that reaches the reader. How the reader interprets the message is subject to the several channels which the writer's message and story must pass through.


The model through which Duncan and Smith evaluate Communication in comics is Claude Shannon's and Warren Weaver's Mathematical Theory of Communication.




The creation of the comic book begins at what Duncan and Smith call the source. This is where the Writer, Editor, Penciller, Inker, Letterer, Colorist, and Cover artist synthesize their creativity in the production of the comic book. Each artist has their particular role in the creative process, and in comic book theory, as stated by Duncan and Smith, each nuance, variation, or creative choice will affect how the audience experiences the story and interprets the message.




The Politics of conglomerate corporations, which major comic book companies (Marvel and DC Comics) are vested in (Disney and Time Warner, respectively), affects which message the readers are going to receive. In major comic book companies, the gatekeepers are the corporate parent which impose particular guidelines, and, which, is also guard the image of the company and are selective about what they publish, in part because of their responsibility to their stockholders. Usually, in major comic book companies, the editor is assigned this task of discretion and enforcing the guidelines.


Besides the editor, several other channels in the Gatekeepers are also present: The corporation, the Comic Codes Authority (which is a comics industry self imposed code of conduct so the government doesn't impose with their own regulations), and societal pressures which create Pressure Groups.


Encoded Messages


The way the story captures particular moments into the panels is called encapsulation. These creative choices are going to affect the way the reader is going to read the comic-- whether it is read vertically or horizontally for example. But also, if the reader spends more time reading one particular panel because it is bigger than the rest, or the panel has more codes and visual stimuli for the reader to decipher, these have been creative choices are encapsulated and affect how the reader perceives the comic book experience from panel to panel.




According to Duncan and Smith, the way the reader receives a comic book can also affect how the reader interprets the message. The subscription method of comic books doesn't offer the reader the comic book culture experience that would be available at the speciality shops. Usually, those working within shops are comic fans themselves and may offer dialogue about a comic series or characters, artists or stories. Hence, the subscription method is disadvantageous in that it insulates the comic  reader experience, and that also affects how the message will be received.


Decoded Messages


 This part in the communication model involves the reader actually experiencing the comic book and synthesizing the experience into a message. Duncan and Smith claim that this part of the comic experience must not be about reading all these different panels and understanding that they work sequentially, but the essence of the experience is, what do all the panels mean together? They ask us to consider what's in the subtext, and reader's inferring and understanding the subtext to create meaning out of the comic book experience.




In Comics and Communication, Noise is anything that could interfere with the message of the comic. Sometimes channel noise results from poorly drawn characters that are not differentiated enough for the reader to discern. Environmental noise happens when the reader reads in distracting sorroundings.  Semantic Noise also happens when the reader interprets a different meaning from a word on the page from what was initially intended by the writer. Noise effects the overall effectiveness of the message.



1. The Power of Comics. Randy Duncan and Matthew J. Smith. 7-13














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