In Between The Spaces

Posted by in Introduction

Subjectively speaking, describing Paul Karasik and David Mazzucchelli’s comic rendition of Paul Auster’s City of Glass as interesting is quite rather an understatement. One of the many things that caught my attention is the unusual use of transitions between panels. In reference to Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, Blood in the Gutter, there are two peculiar transitions used in City of Glass that may be considered as orthodox in the context mainstream comics. Such panel transitions are what McCloud refers to as moment-to-moment and non-sequitur type of transitions.

Moment-to-moment transitions are seen as early as page 15, where Peter Stillman Jr. is seen to narrate the story of his life as the speech bubble eerily enters his mouth panel by panel. The same transition continues in the following pages, but although the speech bubble seem to be shift from different persons and things, the words still remain as Peter Stillman Jr.’s. This particular scene is where the evident use of moment-to-moment and non-sequitur transitions are seen. It is interesting to ask what the purpose of using these unconventional transitions are, and although I do not have the certain answers to that question, I do have a few thoughts on them.

In my opinion, I believe that Karasik and Mazzucchelli intentionally uses these two transitions in an effort to particularly dramatize Peter Stillman Jr.’s life story. In his own self narration, it is seen how he begins by providing very meticulous and particular details about his life. In this part of the narration, moment-to-moment transition is seen to be used in an effort to highlight how detail is given importance. However, as Stillman begins to talk about matters regarding “god’s language” the moment-to-moment transition gradually turns into non-sequitur.

In page 21, it is seen how each panel presents an item that contains no correlation what-so-ever to the previous image, although each item seems to have a speech bubble with Stillman’s voice. This seemingly random transitions in a way reflect god’s language. The mere fact that each panel no longer has to illustrate a scene from detail to detail represents how god’s language is certain, definite and blunt. It needs no preceding image to understand its meaning, for it stands alone, such as the words in a “perfect” language.