02
Jun
09

Comics and Architecture, Part II

Okay, so, as usual, when I went to look something up online, I got a bit distracted and found something else that might be worth sharing here.

We’ve brought up the discussion about comics and architecture a few times (on the blog and in studio), partially because of Pablo’s own interest, but also because it’s just an intriguing pair of artforms, and any combination of the tow is usually worth reading about.  And it’s not just us – BLDGBLOG has a similar obsession with the portrayal of architecture in video games and comics (here, here, and here, for a few examples).  So yesterday, I stumbled across two documents that both dealt with this topic (but in two different ways).

Coupe d’une maison parisienne by Bertall (1845)
Coupe d’une maison parisienne (1845)

Role of Architecture in Comics

 The second is what I’m guessing is a self-assigned project.  He gives a brief analysis on a number of comics and the importance of architecture within the confines of their pages.

In his conclusion, he writes:
“It is very clear that some artists intentionally use the architecture of their settings to underscore certain dramatic themes or issues. Others use architecture for key plot points, drawing the backgrounds into the stories and letting them play a larger role. And in some cases the architecture is, in fact, the “main character” of sorts, with a story really revolving around a certain important place, or room, or building.”

The first is what I’m guessing is a self-assigned project, but it doesn’t say.  He gives a brief analysis on a number of comics and the importance of architecture within the confines of their pages.  To him, architecture is a device used by comic book and graphic novel artists to set the tone, make a point, or serve the plot.  We’ve heard this before – nothing too new here (also, there are no pictures – kind of a bust since I don’t actually read comics and don’t usually know what he’s referring to).  In his conclusion, he writes:

It is very clear that some artists intentionally use the architecture of their settings to underscore certain dramatic themes or issues. Others use architecture for key plot points, drawing the backgrounds into the stories and letting them play a larger role. And in some cases the architecture is, in fact, the “main character” of sorts, with a story really revolving around a certain important place, or room, or building.

Role of Comics in Architecture

The second is someone’s M.Arch dissertation (part of a larger blogging project).  It considers comic strips, cartoons, and other means of sequential art as a way to represent architecture.  The paper is more about the potential these types of media than how they’re actually used in the profession (unlike the first, this pdf has a lot of reference photos, though I wish they were higher resolution).  He points out the advantages they have over more traditional forms of representation (they give a sense of time and pace, they enhance the viewer’s appreciation of the artist/architect’s personal style).

Showing the passing time is now made possible by animations (and was already possible, to some extent, through multiple clearly rendered drawings), but he also mentions the white space between two frames of a comic controlling pace, and this reminded me of one of our first lessons on composition and white space (the tool draft).

And regarding style, I’m not sure comics are the best way for everyone to go, although some firms are certainly trying it (BIG, for instance – has anyone read this yet?).  By outsourcing renderings and animations, a lot of firms have sacrificed some of their original style for the sake of flashier representation.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this non-ranting rant, but I have one more random comment to make related to the topic.  I think one of the most important potential benefits of using comics to diagram or express something about your architecture might be communication with your client.  A lot of people have, at one point in their life, read a few strips of something, and seeing something familiar next to a confusing set of construction documents or overwhelmingly snazzy computer generated images might be useful.  This goes along with the fact that architects have sort of created a language of their own, and often forget that when trying to convey an idea to a “normal person” (or to the media).

So…thoughts?

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2 Responses to “Comics and Architecture, Part II”


  1. 2009/06/02 at 10:57 pm

    While I was at the Architectural Association, we spent a whole semester studying this relationship.
    If you’d like to check out what I can up with for Batman – Dark Knight Returns, you can visit
    http://www.dannyorenstein.com/batman.html or you can check out the AA’s mini website for the semester at http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/ssp/ 2007.


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