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Blankets- Graphical breakdowns

In this post I will show you how I have attempted to find some basic underlying patterns within the content and structure of my canon.  The idea was to count a small number of key components within the narratives and put them into graph form.  By having a visual representation of these otherwise intangible elements I would hopefully be able to ascertain a greater understanding of the medium.  I have chosen to only count the first one hundred pages of each text for the purposes of this sample.  The key components I have selected are as follows:

  • Number of panels per page
  • Number of words (Spoken and thought balloon)
  • Number of words (Narrated)
  • Number of words (Sound effect)

This post will give a breakdown for Blankets, with others to come.

blankets all

blankets panels

The graph above shows the number of panels per page.  This gives us an idea as to pacing; as a basic rule a higher density of panels per page will slow down the reading of a text.  Blankets has an average panel count of 4.25 panels per page.  As an experienced comic reader I would say 4- 5 panels per page is about average.  The high number of single panel pages is offset by a large number of 5 – 6 panel pages, with a handful of 7 panel pages.  In a normal ‘superhero’ genre comic these single panel pages would be used for splash pages, establishing shots and panoramas.  Often these type of comics will also carry a double ‘splash’ page.

Blankets has 2 pages carrying its maximum of 9 panels and 19 pages carrying 1 panel only.  Single panel pages are used here as a dramatic climax to a scene, an adrenaline moment, as an establishing shot, or at the closing of a scene.   The single panel pages are 1 to 9, then pages 16, 24, 42, 43, 60, 65, 66, 67, 93, roughly every twenty pages.  It seems that twenty pages is the average length for Thompson’s vignettes before he moves on to a new branch of the story.

blankets dialogue

Logic tells us that the reading of a text will be influenced by the number of words to the page, with the number of words per page directly proportionate to the rate of page turning.  There is an average of 20.31 words of dialogue per page and a maximum of 81 words to a single page.  There are 2031 spoken words in the first 100 pages.  Blankets is a lengthy novel, enabling Thompson to take his time getting his message across.  Much of the novel’s message is communicated via imagery.

blankets narration

As discussed earlier, there is a distinct separation of the narrated word and the spoken word within Blankets.  This gives consideration for the different modes of storytelling, and for the reader’s engagement with the text.  The narrated sections of Blankets are Thompson’s omniscient reflections on the narrative; his take on the events of the past as he sees them presently.  This is in contrast to the spoken dialogue sections that depict his reactions to the events as they happened.

blankets sfx

   Sound effects are used infrequently in Blankets unlike in superhero comics where they can be an overwhelming, overtly present element.    We can see from the graph below that Thomson is careful to limit the use of sound most especially in the pages containing narration.  This aids in the feeling of viewing the events of the narrated scenes from our present moment rather than being immersed in the full spectrum of sound and effect.

Blankets- dialogue v narration

From this opening study we can gather that Thompson has thought about key aspects of storytelling such as pacing and considerations of the reader’s engagement.  With further analysis of this data and comparison to the graphic outcomes of other texts we may come to a greater understanding of the fundamental guidelines of storytelling within the sequential art medium.