Horizontally Inclined Redux

By | Tuesday, June 23, 2020 Leave a Comment
I originally ran this back in 2013. Fascinating bit of biology that provides a scientific reason we prefer horizontal comics over vertical ones.

Ever wonder why movies are shot widescreen? I mean, why don't we see movie aspect ratios that are taller than they are wide?

Part of the answer, of course, is that film projection manufacturers and film strip manufacturers have only made horizontal format materials so producers and directors have no realistic options for vertical format experiments. But the reason why manufacturers only make horizontal material is biological in nature. Specifically it's our eyes.

An eyeball is nearly spherical and the iris that allows light in is circular so the field of vision for single eye is pretty regular. The width is about the same as the height. But most folks have two eyes placed side by side, working in unison. So with each eye taking in a regular view and then overlapping it with the other, we get an overall field of vision that is wider than it is high. (We also get that cool depth perception thing people seem to like!)
This means we're all inclined to seeing the world more horizontally, so it's more natural for us to consume media that follows a similar format. Movies are a prime example. 

Comics generally are horizontal as well. You're certainly familiar with the traditional comic strip format and comic books are typically seen horizontally when looking at the full open spread of a pamphlet or graphic novel.

While there are obviously comics out there that run more vertically, I think (in my decidedly anecdotal experience) that those are more the exceptions than the rule. I suspect people are subconsciously less comfortable with that format and find reasons to criticize or dismiss the writing or the art.
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