Kurosawa's Got The Moves
As a practitioner of sequential art storytelling (in other words, a cartoonist), let me tell you that there are a lot of similarities between what we do in composing a series of frames (or pages) and what a movie director does when composing the shots for a scene. But there’s one thing that movies have that comics don’t, and that’s MOTION.
I’ve studied a lot of different directors’ styles for use in the craft of my comics. Sometimes it’s even possible to put together a comic story that FEELS like it was directed by a a particular director. But the best directors, the masters of their craft, are much harder to mimic. Because for me movement is something that happens in the reader’s mind BETWEEN frames, and for a great director movement is PART of the frame. Not just the movement of a character or a prop, but movement as a sensation.
Certainly there are great cartoonists who can be said to be able to capture that feeling—people like Will Eisner, Frank Miller, Hal Foster, Walt Simonson—but they are rare talents indeed. Still, even the rest of us can TRY to apply this to our comics . . . try to add a sense of life and motion to the backgrounds of our comic panels rather than just letting them be backdrops. Make them feel like real spaces where things are happening beyond what the main character is doing. It’s not always easy, but we can try.
The video below is an examination of how Akira Kurosawa, perhaps the ultimate master of this technique, puts motion in his compositions (or puts his compositions in motion).