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What An Indie Comic Can Teach Us About the Subtleties of Character Scale

How Craig Thompson’s visual novel uses scale to impart crucial information to the reader.

Is your main character towering in the foreground, or shrinking into the distance? In this week's webisode of the mini-comics masterclass Strip Panel Naked, host Hass Otsmane-Elhaou tackles the use of scale in comics. This week, he focuses on the famed classic indie graphic (or "visual") novel Blankets, written and illustrated by Craig Thompson. "In visual mediums, scale is a really interesting and silent tool to help further your readers' understanding of characters," explains Otsmane-Elhaou in the introduction to the video, "...and it allows the words to tell you information one way, and the images to tell you information another way, both separately building toward the same story and emotion."

Panel selection from Blankets by Craig Thompson

Otsmane-Elhaou goes on to describe the ways in which Craig Thompson uses scale to depict a relationship between a father and his children in his work. "At times it's almost realistic… and at times it's childish over-exaggeration…. What it does though, is it gives us more understanding. Adults are there to be feared, to cower from, because they're bigger, stronger, more powerful, Craig and his brother [the main characters] are tiny in comparison, these weak, frail, skinny little things, that can never stand up to this monstrous hulk."

"Thompson spends a long time telling us that scale means something in this story, it tells us about characters and their relationships, if they're scared, weak, strong, whatever." To see how all of this building and setting up of scale finally pays off in Thompson's visual novel, watch the full video below:

To see more, visit the Strip Panel Naked YouTube page, and check out its Patreon page to support the series.

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