I recently received a French book on comic theory from interlibrary loan that has been decently interesting. While reading it though, I started noticing something very strange. I’d be progressing along, and the graphic examples weren’t there — there was only a little tag “Figure X”. Quickly, I had the infuriating realization that they were all at the back of the book.
Seriously, can anything be more annoying than reading a lovefest of papers about the joys of integrated text-image relationships in a book where text and image are as far apart as possible?
As an upcoming of podcast of mine will discuss, there are many functions of panels. Yet, one of the most useful is their ability to bundle text and image into a singular unit. This same process happens with gestures and speech by virtue of their co-occurring in time. In a spatial form, proximity can allow this integration, but an enclosed border does even better.
Of course, one wonders whether academia will ever figure that out.
In my paper, “Interactions and Interfaces”, I demarcated “Independent” relations as those that have no physical connection between text and image — usually done through a semantic index alone like “See Figure 1.” However, now I’m beginning to wonder if there’s a gradation in there for physical distance. Having a Figure on the same or adjacent page, while annoying for its non-bundled nature of text-image relations, is still a lot better than having a Figure at the end of a book.
Of course, all Independent relations are inferior in integration to bundled relations using panels. Perhaps one day scholarly papers will allow for formating options that do away with the biases of text-image independence? We can only hope…