Friday, August 4, 2017

Noble and the visual storytelling of Roger Robinson, Brandon Thomas

Image source: Roger Robinson

From one perspective, comic books are comprised of written narratives about superheroes and villains and the struggles of good vs. evil. At the same time, from another perspective, a visual perspective, comic books result from a team of creators collaborating to depict an expanded sequence of events, through subtle and dramatic actions. Even though viewing is central to the practice of "reading" comics, our discussions and reviews often privilege the written narratives over the artwork.

Brandon Thomas's interest in highlighting action scenes in Noble means that he is something of a minimalist as a writer. For Thomas, "writing" includes communicating off the page with the artist Roger Robinson to represent those scenes. Accordingly, I've been inclined to think about Robinson's contributions to visual storytelling in ways that may have escaped me if Noble had been overly written with too many words.

Image source: Roger Robinson

It just so happens that Robinson provides me with guidance on how to read him as an artist via his Facebook and Twitter social media accounts, where he posts his wordless and colorless drawings. In one recent tweet, Robinson presented one of his images from the comic book and added the caption "Some fun storytelling frm #NOBLE #2. [Brandon Thomas] wrote this great scene." In another tweet, he posts an image from a scene he drew of the protagonist running. "This was a cool sequence to draw," tweeted Robinson, and he includes the hashtags, #storytelling and #drawingcomics.

For Robinson, drawing and storytelling are interrelated. In fact, drawing is a form of storytelling. Robinson's most dramatic tales so far involve what he's penciled of protagonist David Powell battling would-be captors, saving people, leaping high into the air over great distances, and moving and disassembling objects with his kinetic superpowers.

Image source: Roger Robinson 

Those are the more dramatic images. Robinson also draws close-ups of various people to signal the intensity of their emotions, and in addition, to display the diversity of people who populate Noble. One image, which Robinson tweeted about, "Shows a strong black woman" walking with a sense of purpose and determination as she seeks to "find her man."

I began paying closer attention to Robinson's drawing/storytelling in part based on Thomas's approach to writing Noble. And now, investigating Robinson's sketches presented on Twitter lead me to observe more closely the lettering and coloring contributions by Saida Temofonte and Juan Fernandez, respectively, in the finished product.

The creative, collaborative work of action scenes in Noble
Noble's cultural and geographic diversity
Coverage of Noble
A Notebook on comic books

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