From this perspective, it’s not difficult to see how one might characterize the grid as “regular” or “neutral” or “invisible,” but I remain troubled by the relative nature of these terms, who defines them and in what context. To complicate the issue, my first instinct was to seek out comics that delight in the wildly experimental layouts that Groensteen might find “more sophisticated (or more hysterical),” but Adrielle’s post provides several excellent examples already. So I thought I would ask instead about comics that use the grid, but in unexpected ways: how do comics adapt the basic panel layout in order to stray from what Roy described as Groensteen’s “waffle-iron way of truth”? When is a grid not just a grid?
I wonder, for example, how a comic like “The Harvey Pekar Name Story” fits into our understanding of frame regularity and rhythm. Though we may be inclined to make assumptions about its uniformity at first glance, R. Crumb has not simply drawn 48 identical copies of the same man in the squares of this four-page comic about the different Harvey Pekars listed in the phonebook.
Another example that comes to mind for me is a two-page spread from Percy Carey’s graphic novel memoir Sentences: The Life of M.F. Grimm with art by Ron Wimberly. During Carey’s time in prison on a drug conviction, Wimberly uses the bars of the jail cell to structure the layout of the page, building barriers between us and the detained bodies, the narrative boxes, and the armed guards.
Is this frame neutral or invisible? How might the perspectives of these two comics help us to reconsider the notion of the “basic panel layout” in other comics?
- See more at: http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/2014/08/when-is-a-grid-not-just-a-grid-groensteen-and-page-layout-roundtable/#sthash.Qpa4xJyW.dpuf