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<   No. 1676   2007-08-29   >

Comic #1676

1 Kyros: So Lambert and Draak are in favour of finding Alvissa. The rest of us are opposed. The matter is settled.
1 Lambert: <grumble>
2 Kyros: We press on, making progress by advancing down the hill, forging our way ahead towards the Swamp of Terror and proceeding forward to our ultimate goal. Onward!
3 Mordekai: {looking down the hill ahead} I see a small village down there. We can stop to rest and resupply.
4 Lambert: It looks like their tavern has been destroyed.
4 Draak: With huge ball of flame...

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I originally wrote this with Draak's last word being "fire". It took me right up until I was assembling the comic to realise I needed to replace it with an unequivocally monosyllabic word.

2018-01-28 Rerun commentary: There's an interestingly subtle bit of comic layout double diversion going on here.

As mentioned in the annotation for strip 655, I usually adhere to the convention, codified by Hergé, creator of Tintin, that characters are shown moving from left tor right when they are making active progress in the story, whereas in contrast they are shown moving right to left when encountering obstacles or doing something that hinders their progress towards their goals.

In this strip, there is a deliberate subversion. Our heroes are shown moving left to right, which subliminally indicates to the readers' brains that they are making forward progress. Yet the implication[1] in the final panel is that they have somehow been turned around and headed back to the previously visited village of Footcrag, where they incinerated the tavern before they fled into the Orcrift Mountains.

The fact that they are moving left to right helps set up the expectation in the first three panels that the group is making progress, only to be subverted in the final panel, thus assisting in providing the surprising twist necessary for humour.

I realise that some people say that analysing humour makes it less funny, but this is a case in which I really believe that understanding the subtle principles being used, which most people would overlook, will help you to appreciate this comic - and comics in general - better.

[1] For those who haven't read past this strip before, I won't reveal anything further at this point. Let's just say you might want to come back to this strip in a few hundred strips' time.

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