The essentials of clear storytelling in comics

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Liu, Nan-Teng
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Richards, Charles
Holland, Brent
Zimmerman, David
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Art and Visual Cultures
The key to achieving a good comic is clarity of storytelling. Over the centuries, artists create in various forms, from paintings on a canvas to images behind an electronic screen. There is content behind the work that artists want to communicate with their viewers. In comics, the story is the content that the comic artist wants to deliver. Clear storytelling prevents readers from becoming confused and allows them to immerse themselves into the story, which can motivate the readers to continue their reading. This thesis analyzes the principles of clear storytelling in comics and their effects on the artwork in my thesis exhibition. Unforgotten is a graphic novel I adapted from a short story written by Hannah Hoffman. It is about Eli Aviant, a CEO of his dad’s company, and his twin sister, Elena. While Eli tries to save the company, Elena appears to have other motives. As the flashbacks progress, the secret about the Aviant’s family is slowly unveiled. Scott McCloud is an American comic artist and theorist who wrote the books that provide a deeper insight about comics, such as Understanding Comics, Making Comics, and Reinventing Comics. By examining McCloud’s Principles of Clarity from his Making Comics, such as Choice of Moment, Choice of Frame, Choice of Image, Choice of Word, and Choice of Flow, Unforgotten implements clarity of storytelling by choosing the necessary moments, composing the panels thoughtfully, illustrating images with specificity, selecting words carefully, and guiding readers with the placement of elements on the page. My graphic novel demonstrates that these techniques help readers fully understand the story. Making a good comic requires a series of thoughtful decisions. Becoming aware of every choice on a page and how it can lead to a clear understanding of the story is essential to the creative process in comics. The first step in becoming a successful comic artist is neither creating cool-looking characters nor developing a unique artistic style, but in developing a compelling narrative as well as the creative skills needed to tell the story clearly.
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