VCU Libraries Gallery



Kabuki 16012.jpg
Kabuki 16012.jpg
Title: Kabuki
Creator: Mack, David
Date: 2004 September
Source: VCU Libraries, James Branch Cabell Library, Special Collections and Archives
Publisher: Marvel/Icon
Description: This comic is actually representative of so many different categories, it was hard choosing just one to put it into. With the nonlinear imagery, collage arrangement of panels, and watercolor color application, it could easily be the subject of a more thorough study. But the way the text breaks traditional rules is perhaps the most fascinating aspect. Instead of being confined to bubbles, captions, and balloons, the text in this comic follows the same nonlinear format as the images. To clarify, nonlinear here is used to mean, “is not easily followed in a straight line”. Instead of clearly marching from one panel to another, the words like the images flow across the page, escaping their boundaries here and there.

Page 16 is a great example. Text on this page is bound in places by caption boxes shaped like cut strips of paper, and features an inked speech balloon. But the text does not stop there, instead the creator writes in the margins. Little onomatopoeic words over a wing, a block of handwritten text with an arrow pointing towards one of the panels, animal anatomy diagrams with parts labeled, the words on a wooden ruler. All of these words are story relevant, but unlike the more traditionally bound text, they are much harder to place within a certain order within the narrative.

Making text harder to follow disrupts a reader’s flow across the story, and forces them to slow down. It is a strategy that can make a reader linger over a certain part of the page as they try to piece things together. Used to frequently, the reader may become frustrated and give up, but used with care, it can be a valuable tool for highlighting important moments within a narrative.
Issue Title: Kabuki
Volume: 7
Issue Number: 2
Month: September
Publisher/Imprint: Marvel Comics
Writer: Mack, David
Artists: Mack, David
Year: 2004
Considering Comics
Mack, David, “Kabuki,” VCU Libraries Gallery, accessed May 29, 2024,