I’ve been impressed throughout the semester at how well, and how much better (than novels), comics are able to express the passage of time and the inclusion of sound. I feel like because comics utilize the visual sense, it portrays time and sound closer to the original experience – we see the visual translation of an experience. Written word, on the other hand, takes us one step further away – we translate from image of word, to meaning of word, to descriptions of experience. That distance is really noticeable as a reader.
It would be difficult to receive the points on temporality from Moore’s The Watchmen in full text. The image of a diamond assists in understanding the layering of time for Dr. Manhattan; the cross cutting between detective work and Blake’s death gives setting an emotional charge which both flashes back and foreshadows; and Rorschach’s slow trudges wouldn’t feel so dreary without the pulled out panel progressions and zoom shots. Further, the placement, size and style of sound (though written) within Tardi’s Adele Blanc-Sec is vital to grasping volume, tone and origin of noise – something that onomatopoeia in novels doesn’t fully access.
I think while description of time and sound are indeed possible in solely written word, there is something more effective and more genuine about seeing it in comic form. With word, color, space, etc all at an artist’s disposal the experience appears more full.