Class Exercise 1 – Defining Sequential Art

The primary goal of understanding what is sequential art from what isn’t lies between two realms that are being divided by a very fine line, and not to mention a blurred one. There seems to be a misconception that the term ‘sequential art’ is primarily denoting comic art, but i beg to differ.

There are numerous justifications and meanings as to what ‘sequential art’ suggests. It can be read as a form of expression that holds certain narrative capacities or methodologies rather, in conveying a story, a method, or a framework. Or an intrinsic thought process that is carried out in progressive spaces or within the objectified frame. Employing storytelling through sequential art as a medium dates back 1700 years to the cave painting of Lascaux (see pic on the left), and there are numerous changes that underwent which showcases sequential art as proliferated forms of popular art/culture that goes beyond style, genres, themes, subject matter.

Style, of course. Are we being constrained by the way sequential art is being presented to us? Is it really just comic art forms? If we look into information design and visualizations that deploys a form of chain process (narrative), I believe we can label them as sequential art. Look carefully to the Safety Brief the next time you board an aircraft, or the instruction manuals when your hair roots are showing and decided to give your hair a DIY. Give some credits to the illustrators, they are in fact detailed illustrations that tells a story that is to be cognizant of.

The same thing can be said for photography. Sequential art can be seen from a point of view where the form itself is the function. The capacity for narrative sequence as a point of argument, whether through the development of a story line or within a particular scene, I believe we can categorized such under the term ‘sequential art’.

While I was on my way to school I witnessed an extremely advertisement placement which made me consider if ‘sequential advertising’ can be listed under the term ‘sequential art’. Such environmental placement of an advertising campaign prompted me to be sure about the constant changing term of ‘sequential art’.

Don’t be too drawn in to the look on the lady. Look to the tagline on the right, that is what I would like to bring to your attention. “Now I can get the full picture with just one picture.” Well with this in mind, let’s talk about the difference between panels and frames and what do they entail.

Now, going back to progressive panels versus objectified frame. I concur that sequential art would be rather obvious when narratives are broken into boxes or separate panels that are progressive in nature to showcase a form of narrative. However, if we can see sequence within a single objectified frame, would we still consider that as sequential art? Let’s now take a look of the imagery below. The top half of the picture, I would consider it a framed event, whereas the bottom separated frames are progressive panels. Both of them have a capacity for narrative regardless of whether if they are in an individual, objectified frame or progressive panels.

I believe we can, though the use of frames might ease the categorization process, sequential art should go beyond the frames and boxes that it is confined in, like the term itself, it is one needs constant redefinition.

So before we go into the (interactive) aspects, are we clear about what sequential art should be fundamentally? I hope I am.



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