When you’re down to killing your characters with walking cacti it’s time to end the horror genre!
From a 1957 issue of American Comics Group’s Adventures into the Unknown.
“The excessively friendly jumbo cactuars’ attempt to invite neighbours to their tea party goes horribly wrong”?
What’s kind of interesting to me here, maybe because I tend to read manga when I read graphic narrative, is how much verbal description there is- “Tossing the dead body aside, the cactus sways and tugs at its own roots, ripping them from the earth in a frenzy! On the almost human face, diabolical now, there is an expression of murderous intent…” sounds like instructions to an artist more than a caption. I just tried to draw how I’m imagining it in Paint but err: no. I sort of see three diagonally split panels of cactus-strain and a mouth with many, many thorny teeth though…
I was thinking about captions the other day so I will use yr unfortunate cactus post for a thought dump!
I have always seen this as a value for money thing - the selling points of newstand-era Anglophone comics always being a) thrill-power b) VFM (page count, colour, # of stories, “book-length epics” etc). If one comic takes 10 minutes to read and another takes 30, the kid will remember the 30 minutes immersion better. Captions slow down the pace, so use captions.
In the Stan Lee era you still got them but they were much more ironised, vibe-building rather than explanatory, reaching a height of extreme purpleness in early 70s Marvel (& some DC). Captions as hashtags!
& then they faded away, stripped back to movie-style scene-setters, to the extent that it’s a shock and a pleasure to come across a comic - like this year’s PROPHET - which uses them really well.