Morgan on Single Panels

…nous nous placons dans la lignée de David Kunzle et de Francois Garnier, écrivant, le premier sur la bande dessinée ancienne, le second sur l’image médiévale. Une image isolée est narrative si elle contient des liens de causalité et de consécution. Kunzle note que: “To narrate is, first of all, to polarize a sequence of events into Before and After, Then and Now, Cause and Result – and Crime and Punishment… Here we encounter a property peculiar to the image, and not shared by the word, by which the two-part formula can be condensed into a single picture, a single graphic motif. A cartoon tends to operate by means of such “condensation”; the comic strip does the opposite, by breaking the formula into its component parts and explaining it, in verbal fashion, by means of a linear sequence.” […] Kunzle comme Garnier ne retiennent l’image unique que si elle contient explicitement l’avant et l’aprés (la cause et l’effet). […] Cependent, nous irons plus loin que nos prédécesseurs et nous reconnaîtrons comme narrative un image isolée dont l’avant ou l’aprés (la cause ou l’effet) se déduisent de la scène qu’on voit. Le cartoon ou le panel appartiennent dès lors à l’image narrative. Un panel suit généralement l’une de deux formules: soit nous voyons la conséquence d’une situation que nous reconstituons, soit nous voyons la réaction, généralement inepte, du personnage dans une situation que nous voyons.

My translation:

We put ourselves in the line of David Kunzle and Francois Garnier, writing, the first on ancient/old/antique comics, the second on the medieval image. An isolated image is narrative if it contains links of causality and sequence. Kunzle notes that: “To narrate is, first of all, to polarize a sequence of events into Before and After, Then and Now, Cause and Result – and Crime and Punishment… Here we encounter a property peculiar to the image, and not shared by the word, by which the two-part formula can be condensed into a single picture, a single graphic motif. A cartoon tends to operate by means of such “condensation”; the comic strip does the opposite, by breaking the formula into its component parts and explaining it, in verbal fashion, by means of a linear sequence.” […] Kunzle like Garnier accepts the unique image only if it explicitly contains the before and after (cause and effect). […] However, we will go farther than our predecessors and recognize as narrative an isolated image from which the before or after (cause or effect) is deduced from the scene that is seen. The cartoon or the panel consequently belongs to the narrative image. A panel generally follows one of two formulas: either we see the consequence of a situation which we constitute, or we see the usually inept reaction of the character in a situation which we see.

Morgan, Harry. Principes des littératures dessinées. Éditions de l’an 2, 2003. 41-42.

The argument outlined her is similar to what I wrote last year in my first column at ComixTalk using examples from Dennis the Menace (Morgan also uses the same strip in his examples, which I omitted).