The Strength of the Comic Medium
By Bevan Thomas
In his screenwriting guidebook Story, award-winning screenwriter Robert McKee discusses the relative strengths of various storytelling mediums, and deduces that live theatre is the medium best-suited for detailed dialogue, novels and short stories for character introspection, and movies for visual subtext observed by witnessing characters’ behaviour and their environment as opposed to what they say or think. It’s an interesting theory, and certainly novels allow us smooth access to characters’ thoughts in a way no other medium does, while movies and television display a private and highly visual world and plays are certainly primarily about conversation and monologues. There are, of course, exceptions such as the movie My Dinner with Andre, which entirely consists of two people discussing philosophy in a restaurant, or the television show Dexter, which makes extensive use of a voice-over narrations to get inside the protagonist’s head. However, despite such productions, McKee’s analysis rings-true as a general overview, if not as all-encompassing as he implies.
What then is the storytelling specialty of comic books?