Picture-To-Word Ratio

You know that thing about how a picture’s worth a thousand words?

Attention-spans are short, and scrolling through another 971 words (as of ‘another’) is a bit much.

Plus which, my tendency to get on rolls and tangents, once I get going.


I had a thought.

Instead of trying to write a full review for comics I love, I’m gonna focus on a single panel, and spin off from there.

(Count: 66 words.)

This is from awhile ago, when my main outlet for creative commentary was through Twitter.

The comic is 100 Bullets (written by Brian Azzarello, and illustrated by Eduardo Risso); the phrase below it comes from the climax of Angela Carter’s gripping tale “The Bloody Chamber” (from the excellent collection of the same name). I happened to be rereading them at the same time, and the mashup worked…..naturally.

100 Bullets begins with the mysterious Agent Graves, who approaches different desperate characters with an attache case containing:

  1. A gun.
  2. One hundred bullets.
  3. A file on the person who ruined your life.
  4. And his promise that the bullets are safe-past-safe, that if they’re recovered they’ll be quietly ignored, and that you have carte blanche to carry out Justice.

(Just short of 200 words, btw.)

That gun, in the picture, is NOT one of those guns.

What starts as a series of grim, compelling morality tales becomes steadily more complex–but the bullets stay simple. As one character says to his son, after the boy shoots a man who was drawing on them: “Easier than it should be, huh?”

In comics where the lead carries heat, consideration is rarely given to the mooks who soak up lead as he makes his way towards The Boss. They’re working for a bad guy, so their deaths don’t count for much.

Ok. Two pictures–guess I’ll cap this at 500 words. (And: I’m just past 300 words.)

100 Bullets doesn’t just have anti-heroes. It puts people in situations where they are encouraged to act violently–not because they have been seeking revenge, but because it is offered to them.

I could say things about its great ensemble of anti-heroes and victims (sometimes the lines between those are blurry), but that’s why I set the 500-word (364) cap. I can, and do, recommend this series in the highest terms. I could gush over Risso’s art – that’ll be another of these articles, just to talk about microexpressions – and Azzarello’s snappy dialogue.

But the comic speaks better than I can word it.

That’s why it is a comic. They’ve tried to make a video-game, or a movie, but nothing will ever surpass the experience of these stories in a visual form which you can absorb at your own rate. THAT is something comics do, the unique quality of this medium.

450 words.

Not bad, for a first shot.


Editor’s note: There’s nothing wrong with rambling on though. The whole point of writing is to express yourself, and if you purposefully tie yourself to minimum word counts, you just aren’t making the most of things. Comic, short story, whatever, the important thing is to express yourself.


Constant reader. Incurable writer. Totally reliable narrator. You can find me on Twitter @timeofposting, and (increasingly:) elsewhere.

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