Daredevil and Elektra share a clandestine (though not uncommon), meeting on a rooftop, and even though neither party explicitly mentions it in their dialogue, Daredevil is feeling trapped and constrained by recent events. Without a word, the reader gets a sense of this unspoken tension thanks solely to the artwork, the setting, the panel blocking, the color, and the placement of word balloons. When a comic illustrator is truly at the top of their game, they can use their scene and panel construction to add a layer of symbolic storytelling to the work in ways that no other medium can match. In this week's mini-comic masterclass, Strip Panel Naked, host Hass Otsmane-Elhaou takes a look at how comics create claustrophobia. After giving a brief primer on the way camera lenses work on adjusting width and depth of field, Otsmane-Elhaou shows how a similar technique is applied toward creating claustrophobia in the comic "Daredevil #37" by Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, and Matt Hollingsworth.
"In essence [the artist] moves the camera further away from his characters, and he uses a zoomed in lense to compress the background so we never wander," explains Otsmane-Elhaou. "Mostly what we get is panels right up in people's faces."
Otsmane-Elhaou's lingering over a few pagesof the comic shows the viewer ways in which some characters are allowed freedom of movement, while other characters are metaphorically walled in by the panel borders. Sure, Daredevil isn't literally being constrained by a floating box, but Otsmane-Elhaou says comic art isn't just about deliberately laying out a scene but also, "getting across a sense of mood, or place, or purpose."
Watch the full video below to see how Daredevil gets stuck in his own comic: