Wednesday, February 7, 2018

MEMES: Moment, Frame, Image, Words, Flow

I make a lot of memes, and I'm trying to work on my technique.

On Monday, I headed for Cambridge to visit my granddaughter. I had a copy of Scott McCloud's Making Comics in my bag. I thought this trip would be a good chance to study McCloud's great analysis of comics ("juxtaposed pictorial/other images in a deliberate sequence intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer") and think about how his analysis might apply to the memes I create.

As I walked to the gate, I spotted this TIME magazine cover:

TIME, February 12, 2017: "Making America Nuclear Again"
featuring "Trump's Gamble"by W.J. Hennigan and
"Inside the Doom Factory" by Simon Shuster

"Well, I've gotta have that," I thought.

Later, as I read the first chapter of Making Comics somewhere above Colorado, I made notes about these elements:

* Moment
* Frame
* Image
* Words
* Flow

"I've got a few hours to kill," I thought. "What kind of meme would I like to make right now? Can I put these concepts to work?"

I thought about the TIME cover. It was a pretty good meme all on its own. It captured the moment of nuclear peril, using an image of a mushroom cloud, and all on its own it solved the problem of proper framing by showing the mushroom cloud within the magazine cover context (including the TIME logoface, associated verbiage, and an actual red frame).

I realized the words remained for me to add. It was immediately obvious that I wanted to rise above the ambiguous tone of the cover ("Making America Nuclear Again") and express urgency. The words that came to mind were, "When are we going to learn?"

McCloud stresses that the difference between a cartoon (one frame) and comics (multiple frames) is flow. My first thought was that my meme's flow could be from the TIME cover (frame #1) to the words "When are we going to learn?"(frame #2). Then I decided it might be interesting to show motion in the TIME cover ... starting with the original and fading to nothingness, to suggest the consequences of nuclear weapons.

This is what I ended up with:

@scarry on Twitter:
"Donald #Trump Is Playing a Dangerous Game of #Nuclear Poker"
@TIME @wjhenn …

I tweeted it together with a link to the story in TIME, as shown in the caption above.

I'm still not sure if I like the font and size I selected for the words, "When are we going to learn?" I didn't want to shout, but rather to encourage the viewer to lean in and share in this personal message, and think about it. I hope it's big enough to be visible. (Maybe I'll revise it later, after an interval and then a fresh look at it.)

And now . . . time for me to study Chapter 2 of Making Comics: "Stories for Humans"!

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