Thursday, October 06, 2005

Simplicity of the Line

Art by Bengal


In art there are several things which make the art beautiful. Realism, Impressionism, and although one is natural and one is an interpretation, in art sometimes the copy can be more valuable than the litteral thing. Art then has either extreme detail, to copy as accurately as possible the object which it objectifies, or art will be entirely simplistic and leave a lot up to the viewers imagination. I like both, but in my study of manga and Japanese comics, I have come to appreciate the value of simplicity over detail. Mostly because I have an over active imagination, and pictures such as these, by the French artist known as Bengal, draw my attention. They tell a story. As the famous adage goes, a picture speaks a thousand words.

Another thing I have come to appreciate in manga styled art is the use of dynamics. This includes dynamic story pacing, dynamic forshortening of scenes, and radical story telling methods, dynamic in their own right. For some reason, by using a more simple line, manga seems to grasp the concept of naturalism. Clothes drape, flow, and fold just right. Characters are caught in very normal poses opposite to the static superhero posing done in American comics. Maybe it is just better art, or perhaps it's the rawness of something which one knows to be forced with such control on the very brink of perfection. Maybe not in the same technical aspects as a James Tissot painting, and perhaps the lighting may never be as exact in a comic book, but their is a light hearted energy to manga styled art; a sense of joy, and imaginative fun overbounds. The same feeling is even aparent when done by other's who are mimicing, or replicating, or redefining this artistic style; and yet, it is a relatively new and unherd of style.

Art by Bengal


For me, manga is the next frontier of storytelling and art. Even though it started out as inately Japanese, the entire world has adopted this medium with open arms and a keen sense of curiousity. It's not just manga however, the graphic novel itself opens us up to new genres of story telling possibilities, it is quintisentially the new medium of visual communication. It is a means to bring together ideas, thoughts, cultural awareness, (our) art, and allows us (as human beings) to bridge our imaginations as a collective whole. Our own representative medium which we can incorporate anything about us in a way which everyone, regardless of social, political, religious creed, age, gender, culture, and race can all understand with equal opportunity. We are unified by our love of the image, and such things it can emulate, the best being our best. I like to think that all art does this on some level, but some mediums are more efficient at it. Unlike cinema, manga and comics leave more to our imaginations. Maybe this is why in an age of movie viewing, when the silver screen has conquered Shakespeare, comics are steadily increasing in popularity, awareness, and due respect. They are simply entriguing. Coming back to that age old adage, if one image speaks a thousand words then having a graphic novel saga of several thousand pages of brilliant art meshed seemlessly together with the written word is a medium to truely be respected.

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