Non-3D Comics to Read With Anaglyph Glasses
by Travis Hedge Coke
Blue and red lensed 3D glasses are great! A boon to humanity, they not only aid in anaglyph three-dimensional illusions, they make colors vibrant, they make contrasts pop, they… after awhile they can give you some eye strain. But, despite strain, they are awesome for reading comics.
Simona Ferri’s Angel’s Friends comic cannot replicate the shimmering fx of the cartoon adaptation’s angel clothing. For a long time, quality traditional anaglyph 3D effects were unreliable in comics without great care, being a simple-seeming technique that could be wrecked by general quality reproduction. But, those 3D glasses, anaglyph glasses, can provide for so much more than simply a three dimensional illusion, and could even, potentially, approximate the television special effect of shimmering or vibratory fabric, sparkle.
The opening and closing chapters of The Multiversity, written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Ivan Reis (with divers hands handling the intermediary stories) becomes electric when read through anaglyph glasses. Specifically, the fx on electricity are enhancing dynamically, crackling with blue-white energy.
The red of the Bleed, the interdimensional stuff of life and narrative, becomes energized, dominant.
The penultimate chapter, a cursed comic drawn by Doug Mahnke, features a protagonist who acts as our eyes, our in on the story and its fictional worlds, and once injured and aware, his blue eyes are then one blue, one red. The secret villain in the comic, himself, wears red-tinted glasses.
If you read the comic on its own, it’s one thing, but if you read it through the red lens of the glasses, important key elements, such as the narration boxes, become blank. There are parts the villain cannot see. There are parts, in a comic self-described as flypaper for toxic ideas, that are obscured. That are disguised.
Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Harley Quinn is transformed from cartoon to absurd with anaglyph glasses. The colors swim. The images refuse to settle. Everything clashes.
Enough scenes extend themselves to emphasize Harley’s own cartooned outlook on the world, that exaggerating the unrealism brings you in as close as you can be to the positive end of Harley’s delusions. This is good for enveloping yourself in the warm rainbow positivity and humor, and it is great for when that rug gets pulled out from under out protagonist and everything is horrible but still Lisa Frank explosion.
Cataclysm: The Ultimates’ Last Stand
This Brian Michael Bendis led comic shimmers with lead density and the lightness of illumination. It is the cosmic equivalent of a metal taste in the mouth and a thunderstorm promised by electric air. As a work with multiple contributors, multiple writers, artists, colorists, inkers, Cataclysm is further unified by the artificial, but undeniable invigoration.
Already not a subdued comic, the vibrancy added by the anaglyph glasses brings an uncertainty to the visual that can drive you to look harder than you might otherwise, embracing more of the line and color work, engaging the events on a more visceral level by distancing you from the naturalistic aspects.
Karnak: The Flaw in All Things
Karnak: The Flaw in All Things makes it easy, primarily addressing the audience with green, highlighted and underscored in red.
As a comic about falling apart and holding together, the impulse to separate, using anaglyph lenses to further agitate those background and foreground elements.
Writer, Warren Ellis, used blacklight in a comic, previously, to reveal characters’ thoughts, and he knows enough in regards to comics and comics ephemera that I cannot believe he did not anticipate people playing around with red and green or red and blue lens and this comic.
David Aja, who handled the covers during serialization, is no stranger to strong visuals with limited tone or idiosyncratic gradation. The artists Roland Boschi, Antonio Fuso, and the original choice to draw it all, Gerardo Zaffino, deal in planes and depths, the almost textureless planes and projections mottled and invigorated by Dan Brown’s color work.
Unlike the subdued, make you peer closer and follow the action greens and reds of Karnak, this 1981 anthology comic with a cover by the incomparable Stan G, uses colors in strong blocks the pop and hammer the eye. Crass? Gauche? Sure is. The red and green of the cover further cartoon Jughead’s singular perspective for us, while the opening story, Fever in the Air, uses Jughead’s blue shirt and the red worn by Betty and other girls, often against green backgrounds of hedges, lawns, and even free skies. Samm Schwartz’s art, colored by Barry Grossman, already stacks and arranges the Frank Doyle-written comic with a classicist eye for mise en scene.
The Charley one pager, the short, Jughead’s Childhood Photos, redrawn/reimagined by Schwartz from a George Gladir original, the portrait and word scramble, Where Are You, Americana are all aided by Grossman’s direct, but intelligent colors.
One of the benefits of pulling on the 3D glasses is they can remind you not to take this stuff so serious all the time. Even reading Archie books, sometimes we get a little too rigid and we miss the farm for the chickens, the amusement park for the entry gate. Like those suggestions that you shake off depression by putting something awkward in your coffee, flavoring your comics with a new visual style can show you new gold and remind you of the things you loved, before they become too plain with normative repetition.
Non-3D Comics to Read With Anaglyph Glasses
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