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Monday, January 31, 2022

The Trope Of The Ambiguous Ending

Episode Two Hundred Seventy Eight: The Trope Of The Ambiguous Ending.
In which the unraveling begins.


1 comment:

  1. I'm taken with the scratch marks in etchings. In Victorian illustrations, I gather, this was often marks on wood. I'm intrigued by the feel of the texture of that scratch mark, particularly if it's hastily made, and less calculated. It marks a moment in time in a more potent way that I don't feel with ink on paper.

    This strip was simply an examination / reproduction of one presumably Victorian-era print (I have been unable to properly source the image - it came to me via Twitter and the hashtag 'victorianbookofthedead') of a skeleton (Death?) shoveling a grave. The first and final frames are shading from the sky, the second is of the shovel blade and the walls of the grave itself (reproduced with a little too much parallel among the lines), and the the third was of the cape worm by the figure - you can see the leg and foot off to the left side of the frame.

    The title, "The Trope of the Ambiguous Ending," comes from a review of the 2001 Zwigoff film Ghost World. (Remember, Enid boards the Ghost Bus and leaves town in a manner that is outside of the established reality.) The review was from TV Tropes dot org, which approaches content with a kind camp critical eye. I see Memento Mori carrying with it this acknowledgment of ambiguity, driving home the certainty that nothing is certain, making the point that ambiguous endings are fated for us all. (I don't think this connection was intended when I drew the strip.)

    One of the recurring themes in this strip has to do with the breakdown of what I, as the reader, expect from the form of a comic strip, and the subversion of that expectation. There's a counterpart here with the implied 'unknown' at the forefront of Memento Mori, and so this strip merges these two disruptions. It's at once a breakdown in our expectation of self-containment as a being who has control over our life and destiny, and also a breakdown in our expectation of the linear narrative promised in the orderly left-to-right reading of storytelling boxes. If there is a story told here, in these boxes, it's in a cinematic language in which a lingering impression of an unfocused blur of a pile of earth against a darkened sky is sufficient punchline for a sense of closure.

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