A miscellany of weekly ramblings on comics, art and film by Ted Mathot, storyboard artist and writer/artist/self-publisher of graphic novels and comics

Friday, April 15, 2011

How Does It Make You Feel?

To me this is one of the most important things in any artistic endeavor, whether it be film, painting, dance, music, theatre, etc. When I was writing and drawing Rose and Isabel, the number one thing on my mind (aside from trying to make the deadline) was "how do I feel when I read this? Do I care about these characters and their situations?" If I wasn't reacting strongly enough to a certain scene or bit of story development, if I wasn't thinking about it in the off hours when I was away from the story, I would scrap it and come up with something else.

For all the staging, blocking, composition and general story boarding stuff I post here, the number one thing should be "does the story elicit an emotional reaction from the audience?" Are they going to bring something away from the experience? Will they discuss the film on the way out or debate where they're going to eat?

I understand that for much of the movie-going public, movies are entertainment...an escape from the everyday world -- and that's fine, but because of what I do for a living movies need to be more than that. When the summer movie season lets me down in this way, I look for other outlets, either older films I haven't seen, foreign films, or I read (actually I am constantly reading, but even more so right now). Steinbeck's East of Eden was one of the most emotional and moving books I've ever read (not to mention some of the best characters ever created in Cathy and Samuel Hamilton). Cormac McCarthy's The Road, John Updike's Rabbit series (especially Rabbit Redux and Rabbit at Rest), Philip Roth's American Pastoral, and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle are high on the list of recent reads. Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny spun my head around and really made me think about how we perceive things differently from one another based on our experiences. It's a clever piece of manipulation by the narrator (although "manipulation" isn't quite the right term for it, since he doesn't know he's doing it).

Naturally, as I expressed in my comment about The Caine Mutiny, people are going to come away from a story with different feelings based on their experiences; but what seems to be a common thread in movies, books, music and all other forms of artistic expression is when an artist creates something for his or herself, is honest to it, and crafts it well, chances are it will resonate with others in a powerful way.


Alex Woo said...

Right on Ted! Seeing movies as just entertainment is like seeing food as something to just fill your stomach. Keep preaching brother!

monkeyfeather said...

Well said Ted. Another book that had a great emotional response for me was Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster.

craig said...

Great post Ted. I'm gonna second john's suggestion for mr. Vertigo. He recommended it to me and I thought it was great.

Quentin Lebegue said...

Great post indeed. It reminds me of what Brian McDonald says in his book 'Invisible Ink'.
And I did read 'The Rood' recently - it was so haunting.

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