Oblique Strategies for Comics

index cardsCulling old notebooks and card-bins and trying to organize long list of strategies and inspiring instructions.

This is from past 5 or so years. Hoping typing these up will help sweep away some cobwebs.

Add-ons welcome, please comment.

Oblique Comix Strategies

  • A large block of text
  • Summarize the most important part
  • Narrated by a third party who we see
  • Why so little suspense?
  • Foreigners, their language(s)
  • Blank spaces, blank panels
  • Duplicate panels
  • Give character what she wants but make her work for it
  • Work as someone who doesn’t love (      ).
  • Description, description, description. But it falls away under too much scrutiny.
  • Announce the inspiration
  • The way something feels
  • Make a metaphor you don’t understand
  • Hide the inspiration
  • Draw from a common well
  • The first folk tale that comes to mind
  • What is the silent gesticulating person talking about?
  • The (character’s) physical limitations make for a bizarre finale
  • Silent visual metaphor
  • Someone else’s visual POV
  • Action described
  • Something odd, later contextualized
  • Everything is off panel
  • Why show it?
  • Who knows but isn’t telling?
  • Announce the climax early on
  • What can you censor?
  • Character emulates the stories he loves
  • Incantation
  • Chorus, backing vocals
  • Paranoid (Beat It, Billy Jean)
  • After Tezuka: maze of confusion
  • Something ephemeral
  • Jokeless / Pointless
  • Comic like Joe Frank: different monologues from different people
  • Two faces in profile
  • Parts of the speaker or listener
  • Symbolic imagination of protagonist or listener
  • Admit to a weakness
  • Run the time out before the ending
  • Add a surprise – introduce a new event
  • Too many people or things
  • Totally alone in the panel
  • Something transferred or exchanged
  • Mood, place, light
  • Twice as nice
  • A spotlight
  • Verse chorus verse chorus
  • What it’s like to be dead (from Calvino)
  • Entirely the social sheen (from Calvino)
  • Nonsense syllables
  • Show the rhythm
  • It’s about pictures: (comics, film, photography, etc.)
  • Lord of the flies
  • Emo BG
  • Things are not what they seem
  • Off the mark (from last panel)
  • 1st person stream of consciousness
  • Break chronology
  • The forces -not us- are pushing us together or pulling us apart. (mountain goats)
  • 2nd person narration
  • Steal from …
  • Sound with no sound
  • The text comes from a face in an ad, a t-shirt, etc.
  • Simply state what you need (I just need to see you.)
  • Distorted anatomy
  • Highly subjective: white on black, fractured, etc.
  • It has already been written
  • FATE: dealing the cards from the bottom.
  • Unreliable first person narrator. unreliable 3rd person narrator.
  • Vertical panels. slivers.
  • Unfinished drawings
  • Phone call. black vortex (from Tezuka)
  • Unglued
  • More action than you can handle
  • More glue
  • Three silent pictures, a barrage of words.
  • Slow down the drum track
  • Absolute objectivity
  • Parody your favorite thing
  • Exert yourself physically before tackling the problem
  • Gray out the main character
  • What would the anti-you do?
  • Viewer and viewed in same panel
  • Balloons you can see through
  • Pornography: expected situations, expected responses
  • Words from the other side
  • Rundown of a series of characters. the last one is profound, different
  • Book within a book
  • Powerful character whom everyone orbits
  • Side characters hate the main. He is in opposition to the side characters
  • Vast summaries: “he made it to morocco and found himself at…”
  • Narrator is an interloper. Watches and never participates
  • The story is description, before the human elements arrive.
  • Shift the timing/ out of phase.