Thursday, January 20, 2011

De-constructing Laugh-Out-Loud Cats

Today's Laugh-Out-Loud Cats strip from Adam Koford...
It's a bit of a departure from his usual one-panel format, but it's not uncommon for Koford to play with the strip in a meta-textual manner, having the characters interact with the confines of the panels themselves. But I find this strip particularly clever.

If you read the strip in a traditional left-to-right format, it makes sense. Pip digs a hole in the floor, and drops down. Before Kitteh can join him, a second Pip drops through a newly made hole in the ceiling. The two then drop into the open countryside beneath the comic.

But that's NOT the way Pip experiences the story. To read the story as he experiences it, the reader has to mentally ignore the existing panel borders and generate new ones. Like so...
Pip's story is that he digs a hole, and is surprised to see a second Kitteh as he peeks through. He drops through to be caught be the second Kitteh and the two of them drop into the open countryside.

So, depending on which character's point-of-view you follow, there are either two Pips or two Kittehs. But did you catch this especially clever bit? In none of the regular panels do more than one Pip and one Kitteh appear. That's, in part, because the regular panels don't actually act as the panel borders.

Look carefully at the flow. Kitteh's experience, while easily followed using the panel borders as a guide, actually runs more like this...
I find it to be an extremely fascinating example of not only playing with the comic in a meta-textual context, but playing with the readers' perceptions by taking advantage of their ability to read complex, multi-faceted comics. This shows a great understanding of craft on Koford's part and, while I've enjoyed his comics for a while now, I have a new respect for his abilities.

5 comments:

Matt K said...

Wow.

Thanks for sharing this. I've got to say, it's most impressive.

The first nine panels, by themselves, would be cute and unusual, but maybe not astonishing.

Once I figured out the relationship of the bottom strip, though, it was like "oh my god am I on drugs?" Quite a remarkable piece of work, here.

Lebeau2501 said...

This is one of those pieces that is done in such a way that makes it possible to view in only one medium. It could never be animated. That's what made older comics so special.

Billso said...

Ok.

Anonymous said...

I thought he was just screwing around to see what would happen.

Rex said...

you think Pip sees it as a second Kitteh? I think he knows it is the same one. I think Pip is aware of the manipulation of his reality.