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Beautiful Theology

Signifying truth in more than words alone

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Understanding Comics ch. 8

One might think that a chapter on “color” in comics would promise less for a seminar on Beautiful Theology than the more semiotically-specific chapters. but no! (Or perhaps you already didn’t assume color was irrelevant.)

Let’ start by agreeing not to tax McCloud for soft-pedalling the extent to which “technology” is already implicated in comcis style even apart from the application of color (lower right, p. 187), as though cheirographic, xylographic, lithographic, engraved, intaglio, screen-printing, and other technologies of monochrome reproduction haven’t affected comics style along with commercial interests.

McCloud’s observations relative to different ways color can affect communication (190-191) do indeed pertain to theologically-interested communication. We need only think of the examples of rubricated printing, color-coded ceremonial (the calendar & vestments), clerical attire (what’s traditional, what’s appropriate, and so on), and stained-glass windows to hit the most obvious ways that color enters into our communications. Imagine, though, that a theologian or congregation took seriously the relation of color to discourse; what might change? How might one anticipate various audiences to respond?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I've got a bunch to say on several of these recent posts, but I'm realizing now that unless I jump in and speak when they come up, I might not get back to them before the topic passes (this is not one of the things that is different between online and face-to-face class).

Anyway, in connection with color (and visual semiotics in general) it is important to be aware of cultural issues. Asian cultures and American culture disagree on the "meaning" of the colors white and red, for example, two very strong colors. It affects very much how we make meaning from what we see. The colors of the Church year are relatively new, and yet they seem to have both strong associations (red for feasts of the Spirit, and for martyrs, white for easter), and less strong associations (we can't even agree if Advent should be blue or purple, for example).

I'm also put in mind of the intriguing statement that J.C. Herz makes in her book "Joystick Nation" about how Japanese artists often draw their heroes with more Westernized eyes, leaving the more almond-shaped eyes for the villains. She provocatively suggests that this is why Americans find Japanese comic art so easy to enter into--both cultures can agree on who is "us" and who is "them."

That's a start for now, and a pledge on what else I have to say.

April 12, 2007 11:21 AM  

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