Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

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SchneebS
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Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby SchneebS » Fri May 25, 2012 1:13 am UTC

In comics, when the contents of the frame breaks out of the walls of the frame, or there is a lack of frame, it is called breaking the fourth wall. In a lot of xkcd comics, I see that one frame will have no borders; technically this is breaking the fourth wall. Is there a reason?

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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby jestingrabbit » Fri May 25, 2012 6:32 am UTC

I'm pretty sure "breaking the fourth wall" is actually a term from the theatre. There are three walls that exist, and a fourth wall that is implied, that separating the audience from the players. "Breaking the fourth wall" occurs when, well WP says it better than I could.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_wall

Your use isn't something I've ever seen before.
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby brakos82 » Fri May 25, 2012 6:36 am UTC

I always just assumed it was some artistic effect and/or laziness.

Though it would be cool if Black Hat Guy would break the fourth wall.

With a cannon.

That fires chainsaws.

Do it, Randall. :twisted:
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri May 25, 2012 6:37 am UTC

SchneebS wrote:In comics, when the contents of the frame breaks out of the walls of the frame, or there is a lack of frame, it is called breaking the fourth wall. In a lot of xkcd comics, I see that one frame will have no borders; technically this is breaking the fourth wall. Is there a reason?

No. It's not.

Breaking the Fourth Wall means in comics the same thing it means in Television, Movies and Theater - that the subjects of the fictional account are aware of the audience viewing them, often up to and including being aware of their fictional nature.

This can include a comic panel where a character reaches from one panel into another to take an item or give the character's "future" self an item. It would not include peculiar frame arrangement. A lack of frame indicates nothing more than a lack of frame. If anything, a steady stream of consciousness where you watch one character progress on a background with no frame whatsoever would indicate more of a passage of time, not a breaking of the fourth wall.

A lack of a hard border only means the artist in question didn't want to draw a border for some reason or another. This can include reasons such as wanting to impress a sense of space on the reader, or escape, or it can be just a stylistic choice.

Go read Understanding Comics.

Or, look at this comic. At no point does the comic break the fourth wall, despite having the appearance of a two-dimensional drawing of a woman entering a three dimensional tear in the page, and closing it behind her.
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby Menacing Spike » Fri May 25, 2012 7:29 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Or, look at this comic. At no point does the comic break the fourth wall, despite having the appearance of a two-dimensional drawing of a woman entering a three dimensional tear in the page, and closing it behind her.


My favorite variation on this theme:
Spoiler:
Image

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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby eSOANEM » Fri May 25, 2012 7:38 am UTC

SchneebS wrote:In a lot of xkcd comics, I see that one frame will have no borders; technically this is breaking the fourth wall. Is there a reason?


Not it isn't. The fourth wall is broken if something/someone in universe in some way acknowledges the audience or the fact that they are fictional. Not having a frame definitely doesn't count.

The other instances you list arguably are breaches of the fourth wall (albeit ones which cannot be done in the theatre or tv so easily), but these are far less common in xkcd.
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby TimelordSimone » Fri May 25, 2012 11:17 am UTC

The Order of the Stick strip where a character gets blasted through the side of the panel into the white space beyond is specifically titled At Least It Wasn't The Fourth Wall Again.
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby ConMan » Sun May 27, 2012 11:05 pm UTC

For an even better example (depending on how you see it), look at Garfield - the standard set-up for a weekday comic there is three panels, with the first and third having borders and the middle one being borderless. Why? Probably stylistic choice - the existing borders separate the panels enough that it isn't necessary to do anything to the middle panel. And at no point does this ever signify Garfield "breaking the fourth wall" (although he does occasionally address the reader, usually in the *third* panel).
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby SchneebS » Tue May 29, 2012 3:57 am UTC

I know breaking the fourth wall refers to everything everyone's said, but it can be loosely used to describe alterations in the physical lines in a comic, including no lines at all.
Regardless, the question is asking if there is significance in the frames without walls, or if it's just a stylistic choice.

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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby ahammel » Tue May 29, 2012 4:19 am UTC

SchneebS wrote:I know breaking the fourth wall refers to everything everyone's said, but it can be loosely used to describe alterations in the physical lines in a comic, including no lines at all.

This is the first I've ever heard "fourth wall" used to mean the border of a panel of a comic strip. You're welcome to use the term that way if you like, but you're likely to confuse your audice, especially if you're discussing a work that has frequent fourth wall breaks in the [more conventional sense. You certainly confused the hell out of me.
SchneebS wrote:Regardless, the question is asking if there is significance in the frames without walls, or if it's just a stylistic choice.

It's probably of no significance aside from style. Most comic strip artists do that.
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby fr00t » Tue May 29, 2012 9:28 am UTC

Speaking directly to or otherwise acknowledging the audience through the camera in a film or television program, or through this imaginary wall in a play, is referred to as "breaking the fourth wall" and is considered a technique of metafiction, as it deconstructs the boundaries normally set up by works of fiction


Not alterations in the physical lines of a comic per se, but addressing or violating the framework in which a piece of fictional narrative is presented is characteristic of metafiction. So a character throwing a boomerang which breaks through the comics boundary is an example of metafictional device. Breaking the fourth wall is another metafictional device wherein characters address the audience, which xkcd has utilized.

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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue May 29, 2012 1:36 pm UTC

SchneebS wrote:I know breaking the fourth wall refers to everything everyone's said, but it can be loosely used to describe alterations in the physical lines in a comic, including no lines at all.
Regardless, the question is asking if there is significance in the frames without walls, or if it's just a stylistic choice.

No. It can't. Because that's not what it's called. Not unless you're fine with automobiles also being called tubas. It has a name.

Borderless Panel or Open Panel. That is the name of what's going on. The Why will vary, but generally speaking for xkcd it's to break up the panel panel panel format.


Go read Understanding Comics. Everyone.
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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby Omegalodon » Sat Jun 09, 2012 11:53 pm UTC

I think the fourth wall breaks are too meta. It detracts from the comic. Part of getting into a comic or getting interested in a comic is buying into their tropes for the sake of the comic. For example, XKCD has a bunch of stick figures in it, which usually connotates amateurish middle schooler's scribblings. However, in XKCD, this trope is used to communicate some great/interesting ideas instead. When the author breaks the fourth wall, especially if they do it all the time, this takes me out of enjoying the comic or finding the particular quip/story entertaining. It reminds me once again that this is just a comic on a website. Notice how in Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson never broke the fourth wall? Notice how in Ctrl-alt-del and Cyanide & Happiness, 2 comics which I consider mediocre, they do it all the time? To be fair, cyanide & happiness is pretty funny sometimes.

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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby Menacing Spike » Sun Jun 10, 2012 11:26 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:No. It can't. Because that's not what it's called. Not unless you're fine with automobiles also being called tubas. It has a name.



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Re: Do fourth wall breaks in xkcd comics have significance?

Postby Weeks » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:30 pm UTC

I just galuffled my shirgenstickles, could anyone bruger a ragerthack for me please?
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