Don’t Look into the Camera
A while back, I posted about a pet peeve of mine — drawing a character with a raised index finger when delivering the punchline (or an important plot point). For me, it represents a lazy approach to illustrating because there are so many other more creative gestures that could be used to make that panel work more effectively.
This is another one of those visual tropes.
LOOKING INTO THE “CAMERA”
Upon delivering a line, either the speaker or the character being spoken to looks directly out of the panel, into the eyes of the person reading the comic.
In film and TV, this is generally avoided. And I’m careful to say “generally” because I know full well that some TV series (most notably BBC’s “The Office”) use it to tremendous effect.
And there are times when I can justify using it as a cartoonist.
Once in a blue moon.
But it’s really easy to overuse. And I see some cartoonists who do it several times a week.
Where do you stand on it? Well, ask yourself this: How comfortable are you breaking the Fourth Wall in your comic? Some comics center their very premise on speaking directly to the reader. And that’s perfectly acceptible.
If that’s how your storytelling is built.
But, if you’re not regularly breaking the Fourth Wall in your storytelling, you should be very careful about letting this visual trope creep into your illustration — because it has the very same effect.
It’s not that it’s going to ruin the moment (punchline or plot point), but rather, I think you could be pushing yourself to draw a better, stronger scene.