The Weardale Fairies

The Weardale Fairies

The Weardale Fairies, created by cartoonist Rachael Ball, uses elements of the classic childrens story; Ball utlisies myth, riddles and actual fairies in order to coincide with a typical fairytale. The circumstances involve a young girl who accidently stumbles upon fairies, she is then kidnapped by them. Her mother, with the help of a fish, must solve riddles in order to get her daughter back.

In terms of Halliday’s metafunctions; the ideational meaning represents how we see the world. Ball has used dark neutral colours in order to create a naturalistic tone. The use of over exaggerated drawing style, such as the father looking like a literal bear, creates a reader identity and allows them to place themseleves into this world ‘[…] When you enter the world of the cartoon…you see yourself’ (McCloud 1993: 31-36). The use of gutters and a sequential layout creates a linear reading of the comic therefore becomes easy to follow. However, the language used is short and sweet so its up to the reader to create context and use the visuals to understand the story. In terms of how the reader is interpersonally involved, they are not. Ball uses spatial ques such as gutters and ‘one month later’ and ‘the end’ to imply the time passing but the actual characters do not talk to the reader through the speech boxes. However, there is a sense of closeness in that when there a riddle involved, the writing becomes much larger as if to include the reader in trying to solve it before reading on (this was my interpretation anyway). When i was reading, I did stop for a moment to work it out myself, but couldn’t. In addition to this, the characters do make direct eye contact with the reader (shown below)

In contrast to this, the use of vast landscapes throughout the comic strip juxtapose this closeness and recreate distance between the reader and sign maker. In terms on textual meaning, Ball uses different size panels depending on the intensity of the scene. The panels noticeably start small and gradually get bigger throughout the comic strip e.g.

As she begins her adventure into the strange and unknown lands, the panels begin to get bigger in order to portray the distance. Especially in the image above, the gutters are sort of merged together to look like they are part of the scene and to create one meta-panel. Even though this has been done, it does not disrupt the linear layout to follow thus, I thought this was extremely clever and innovative. There is also changing font size in order to represent intensity. Words such as “AGGH!” are written much larger as opposed to words such as “ting” written in small. Shown below –


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