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Points of View - part one

Banes at 12:00AM, March 1, 2018

Welcome to March!

I thought I'd try a connected theme of Thursday articles this month. I've had some half-baked ideas floating around on the subject of “Point of View”. They haven't coalesced completely but I think I can figure out four articles on this topic over the next few weeks. So here we go!

Points of View - part one

In literature, we know there are several points of view that can be used by the author. First person (everything is ‘I did this, I did that’), Third person limited (he does this, she does this, we can see the thoughts of only one character, usually the main character), third person omniscient (we can see the thoughts and pov of everyone the author wants us to), of course, second person ('you do this, you do that'… I don't know how often this is used, but it seems likely to get annoying).

In comics, the standard is to see the thoughts of any character the author wishes, with the use of thought bubbles or captions. POV can be switched willy nilly. So, Third Person Omniscient.

Of course, it's easy enough to make the decision to only show the thoughts of one character. Maybe there's one central character who's in almost every scene. Limiting ourselves to only seeing that person's thoughts definitely puts the story in their perspective and allows some suspense/tension and relatability, so that we only know what they know.

Other than narrating using the pronoun “I”, I'm not sure how first-person narration would be any different. Stories starring Wolverine (as well as some noir characters before him) used to use this device, and it's pretty powerful, for isolating the main character and giving the whole thing a certain gravitas or seriousness. It can work!

Doing a second-person narration would be possible too - I imagine not seeing the character (“you”) and only seeing what's going on in front of their eyes. I'm sure that's been done in comics - I've seen it done in film (of the shorter variety at least).

Does you comic follow one character? Do you limit your “mind reading” to just that one? Or do you allow everybody's thoughts to be seen when needed? What do you think of the “first person narration” device in comics? Have you ever seen “second person narration” done? Do you like that notion, or do you think it'd drive you crazy?

Happy Thursday, and Happy March!




KimLuster at 2:49PM, March 2, 2018

In the Godstrain I purpose went 3rd person limited, as for most of the comic's length it was suggested that ALL of it (events, other characters...) could be just a dream in Kimber Lee's head. As for second person, Anne Rice's novel, Pandora, attempted this... and it was Annoying as Haaailll!!

bravo1102 at 5:55AM, March 2, 2018

Well then I have my job cut out for me. Second person narration.

AmeliaP at 9:00PM, March 1, 2018

That's a great article, Banes! "Have you ever seen “second person narration” done?" Nope, I only saw a "true" second person narration in games, "eXperience112". I've never read a comic in second person voice before.

ozoneocean at 7:01PM, March 1, 2018

You can switch up points of view in a comic, you don't have to stick with 3rd person omniscient. You can narrow down to just 3rd person, 1st person or 2nd person for a scene or a chapter. It's effective and strong to do that. 2nd person can be annoying if your whole comic was like that and so can 1st person, but if it was just for a page it could be punchy. Games do that sorts of switch up all the time but usually in reverse (all second person and then momentarily switch to 1st or 3rd). An example of a switch up is in the otherwise terrible DOOM movie, it's all normal 3rd person and then suddenly you switch to a second person FPS view when he's running with the gun. :)

bravo1102 at 7:59AM, March 1, 2018

In a comic a creator can play lots of tricks with point of view. You don't have to put everything in an any panel. You can show everything, or with hold all, some or none of anything. Hint like mad or show the danger from over its shoulder. You don't have to put anything in there you don't want the reader to know. You can emphasize the trivial and minimize the vitally important. You frame it and you create the contents and it can say anything from anyone's point of view differing from panel to panel, page to page. Mise en scene.

bravo1102 at 7:01AM, March 1, 2018

Look at Harry Turtledove. Each chapter is from a different point of view. Then there's the classic film Rashomon which repeats the same story in different points of view to allow the audience to piece together the truth.

bravo1102 at 6:52AM, March 1, 2018

One could do a good story with a running narration in second person. Something immediate and intense like a noir or a war story, just describing your feelings and reactions. Something maybe with no external dialogue, just the running interior dialogue.

bravo1102 at 6:46AM, March 1, 2018

Those choose your adventure novels were written in second person. There were a couple of great noir films done with the camera as the point of view. There are plenty of powerful sequences done first person view like the first 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.

mks_monsters at 5:47AM, March 1, 2018

You are talking to someone who’s whole point of their comic is POV from every angle.

MOrgan at 3:28AM, March 1, 2018

Second Person does get annoying fast. Thankfully it rarely makes it past the editors. I think Edgar Rice Burroughs used it for one of his western novels (The Girl From Hollywood?), but only at the beginning, thankfully.

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