Tiny Folks

What Did I Learn?

weekly webcomic reviews by Delos

(this is a repost)

Tiny Folk by Michal Jedinak is the kind of comic that I always enjoy. It is wordless.

This poses some difficulties for the artist who tries it. While a character’s facial expression and body language can communicate the emotions they are feeling, things like dialogue and explanations have to be implied. You can show what a character is doing but they can’t show you what they plan to do. Sometimes subtleties are far easier brought out through dialog than image.

There is something powerful going on when you have to search for meaning in a picture because no explanation is offered. I’m not going to try to justify some explanation about how dialog activates the logical side of the brain while images fire up the other side, or anything like that. It’s the difference between immediately understanding something when you first see it versus reading the contextual notes.

Tiny Folk mostly avoids these problems with single panels and almost no facial expressions, to boot. I like the snowmen attacking the snow cone merchant. It’s clear, to the point and funny. There are a few other ones that I don’t quite grasp, but that’s the trouble with having no dialog to provide context. It’s going to happen sometimes.

Having said that, this is a recently posted comic which seems to be updating regularly so far. I’m sure time and experience will continue to improve Tiny Folk. It seems to cover topics that are self conflicting, so there’s plenty more to see.

What did I learn?

I can’t help but think that every comic would be improved if the action, theme and emotional content were clearly understood before a single word was read. Clearly, words and pictures combined can accomplish a great deal more than either alone, but it is good to examine the extreme cases sometimes. We should all keep our eye on comics like Tiny Folk and make sure we are making the most of the image side of our comics.

(As of the scheduling of this repost, Tiny Folk’s last update was in April 2008.)


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