Comic book conventions are more fluid than we’re told

A while ago I attended Editors Canada’s webinar on editing comic books. So on Sunday I went to TCAF (because I didn’t even realize TCAF was last weekend until a saw a high school friend’s Instagram post — he had a presentation on Friday) and flipped though some comic books. And what did I find out? Comic books, generally speaking, don’t really follow all the “rules” we were taught. We were told that the “rules” wouldn’t apply to manga. But I didn’t see manga at TCAF. Comics from Europe do it differently. Comics in zines do it differently. Comics that are better described as experimental art do it differently. Even some locally produced ones, made right here in Toronto, do it differently. Some do it in a way that reminded me of how translated manga were typeset when I was small (i.e., they break even the seemingly unbreakable rule that text in English-language comics should look hand-lettered). Maybe half of all the comics I flipped through followed the “rules”; when I first found something that followed them I was actually surprised. And you know what? Being a reader, seeing comic books that didn’t follow the “rules” didn’t bother me a single bit. So what we were taught was a style. Apparently a fairly well-known style if what you’re aiming for is a mainstream North American aesthetic. But it’s still only a style. In the grand scheme of things, we’re talking about non-rules.