Word & Image: Brian Fies Lecture

            On Tuesday, November 2nd, comic book artist Brian Fies gave a lecture to our design class about his work. Fies is the author of Mom’s Cancer and Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow. Although he is not a well-known artist, he is generous in explaining his knowledge of how word and image work together in a design setting.
            Fies made it clear that in comics, words should be prioritized over image. This makes sense because it is difficult to juxtapose different scenes without a cohesive story. Fies showed us a rough draft of a page in Mom’s Cancer (which is a comic book as interesting in its physical dimensions as it is with its engaging story and simple graphics). Fies prepares the sentences in the comic panels before deciding on which images are appropriate for those panels. The rough draft started with sentences placed in speech bubbles at the top and/or bottom of each panel, leaving a blank space for the image. The amount of space the words utilizes are also a contribution to the panel’s image, for if the speech bubble is too big, there will not be enough space for the image.
            In his two comic books, Fies uses a limited amount of colors in some panels, and goes outrageous with colors in other panels. He uses color in the images to reveal a deeper meaning to his work. He explained during the lecture that in Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow he used different colors during different time periods to show a change in the way the world was perceived at that time. Although he does not explain the different colors with written words, the images still hold a significant meaning to be interpreted by readers.
            Fies had given all the designers listening that day a valuable tip, which is to always exhaust every idea one has in mind before deciding conclusively on one piece of art. Fies struggled with finding the most appropriate font and best image to represent his book; hundreds of covers for Mom’s Cancer were created prior to the book’s publishment. Finally, he chose a design which he has never regretted. Being satisfied with one’s work is truly the best way to be successful as a designer!


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