Comics are not only about colourful drawings, they are art in all senses with their particular rules, picularities and symbolism. Daredevil series are not an exception. ‘Strip Panel Naked‘, mini-comic masterclass held by Hass Otsmane-Elhaou, explained how Mat Murdock got “trapped” by his own life circumstances and comics illustrators.

‘Strip Panel Naked’ describes his main aim as “taking a look at why the best comic books work the way they do, by breaking them down and analysing the work that’s gone into them.” If you thought that comics are that simple to be taken as childish drawings, you got completely wrong. As all artists, comic illustrators find their ways to express themselves not only by means of word ballons, but also using special techniques. These techniques are mostly in the Strip Panel Naked’s spotlight.

As Otsmane-Elhaou explains, “on this ‘Strip Panel Naked’, he looks at Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev and Matt Hollingsworth’s work on the pages of the Marvel Knights book Daredevil. Specifically how it relates to cinematography in films, and how they create a claustrophobic, suffocating effect for Daredevil and Matt Murdock in the pages and panels of the comic book.”

In “Daredevil #37”, Daredevil and Elektra share a clandestine, meeting on a rooftop, and even though neither party explicitly mentions it in their dialogue, Daredevil is feeling trapped and constrained by recent events. The artwork is exactly what helps the reader get Murdock’s state without any word. Due to the setting, the panel blocking, the color, and the placement of word balloons the reader gets a sense of this unspoken tension. This is how claustrophobia can be depicted. Elektra is drawn with a magnificent background and small enough to depict the great amount of space around her. However, Murdock is put into strict and really tiny frames, just like ones he feels inside himself. See the trick? “It’s a true mastery of a visual language”, claims Otsmane-Elhaou. “Alex Maleev interpreted the meaning and the thoughts behind the ideas on the page. This is just lays of great visual language being hidden under the very simple premise story being told by Bendis Maleev”.

The illustrator also creates another symbol which can be easily catched if being attentive. The red ribbons. Both Murdock and Elektra have ones. However, the latter are much longer. They waver in the wind, so you can even imagine how they flutter. But Murdock has a short one in a form of a tie – almost inconspicuous, obscure… Pathetic in comparison with Elektra’s ones. A ribbon here is a true symbol of freedom, and as Murdock is sharing his suffers, his red tie is tightening on his neck.
Colours, the illustrator uses, are also chosen not by chance. “It’s all for your brain, you and your subconscious to be let by without the framing of the panels, without colours you wouldn’t have the same emotional response on this page, and a book would suffer because of it,” tells Otsmane-Elhaou in his video. And it’s really so: another colours (instead of dark blue, green and black) would make completely different inpression.

If wanna learn more – watch the web series here.

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