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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Listening to Comics

A moment of considered near silence in a brutal post-apocalyptic tale

A word of warning before you might click through to the comic about to be discussed. A lot of comics these days come emblazoned with mature-reader warnings, but this one really deserves it. There’s a lot of brutal sex and violence in this comic, usually at the same time. In the words of the website on which it is hosted, the webcomic, titled Crossed: Wish You Were Here, “is extreme entertainment for adults. Anyone under 18, or anyone easily offended, please go no further.”

It’s written by Simon Spurrier, whose The Afterblight Chronicles: The Culled I read last year, and whose more recent A Serpent Uncoiled is on my to-do list. In any case, below are two consecutive pages from Spurrier’s Crossed, which is illustrated by Javier Barreno. Like Afterblight, it is a post-apocalyptic tale narrated by a lucky survivor, in this case someone who, like Spurrier, is a comics professional — or was, in the narrator’s case, since there is little apparent use for comics after the fall of civilization.

The scene depicted here takes place on a lighthouse where the character and his fellow survivors keep a lookout for the diseased humans who outnumber them and threaten them daily. Sound is a difficult thing to present visually, as too is listening, and I was struck by how Spurrier and Barreno sought to do it: first by using a tool (the ear horn), an archaic one at that; second, by emphasizing the effort by depicting the concentration on the character’s face; and third by using comic panels to bridge the physical gap between the listening and what is being listened for, in this case the motor of an approaching watercraft:

All reader warnings considered, here is where the comic is housed: crossedcomic.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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