One of the special features of a media that combines words and images in a static mode, such as graphic novels and comics, is its ability to make use of silence. In purely written texts, there must always be a voice, either that of the character or narrator. With film it is possible, but rare, for sound of some sort to be wholly absent. Even when there are no voices or music, sound in the form of natural ambience (a dog barking in the distance, the drone of traffic) is almost invariably present.
The absence of any verbal or sound cues is liable to increase the ambiguity inherent in any image and requires the viewer to spend more time decoding the visual information presented to them in order to make sense of the narrative. Rather like reading poetry compared to reading prose, the audience has to slow down and evaluate meaning for themselves without the confirmation and greater certainty (or, at least, apparent confirmation and certainty) that verbal cues supply. This lack of certainty can create tension and interest as well as draw the viewer closer to the protagonists as they attempt to deduce their emotions and mental states. Unlike a film, of course, the viewer has the opportunity to go at their own pace or to revisit panels and sequences.
In ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ silence is a common device that we use although there is always the risk that it can create confusion rather than interest if mishandled. In part 1, the two extended dream sequences (to be found in ‘Falling’ and ‘No Return’ as well as the above flashback to Casanova’s youth (to be found in ‘Place des Fleurs’) are almost entirely silent.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 3 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
6 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
#silence #graphicnovel #behindthescenes #storytelling #context