Even though I'm not autistic, I can readily understand what JoFox2108 is referring to in trying to follow the black and white art.Beyond people with certain conditions that make following a specific kind of media tricky, I suspect a lot of this comes down to the language of comics – and that language changing. I grew up with pulp British fare. Almost nothing was coloured. 2000 AD would have its centre spread, and things like The Beano would have a spot colour for some strips, but that was it. US comics, by comparison, were in colour throughout my lifetime – although I'm not sure how much easier some were to follow, given the semi-random and low-quality nature of the colouring jobs. 2000 AD of course switched gears dramatically when painted art came in, although plenty of sub-Bisley clones meant you got a lot of hard-to-follow murky brown crud until artists properly learned to grapple with colour. (You then got crazy digital stuff a few years later, before that too settled down.)
Thanks Indigo, I've been thinking about the effect the 'language of comics' has had on me as I grew up. I started with 'The Beano' and then went on to 'Commando' when I was about 8 or 9. I read some 2000AD when I was about 16 but couldn't read the black and white art at the time.
After that I didn't follow comics at all until after my son was born. I bought him some Dark Horse Star Wars comics with 5 1/4 " figures attached. He wasn't interested but I got hooked. I was quite happy with the Star Wars Expanded Universe which Dark Horse were doing for years until Marvel took over. Initially I read everything Marvel put out Star Wars-wise but I felt that they had lost something.
After I gave up on Marvel Star Wars I read loads of stuff, fantasy and Science Fiction and plenty of Manga (where I had same problem with the black and white art work). I tried superheroes too but they all seemed like a bunch of similar characters in different coloured tights! I know some people love that stuff but I thought it was boring. Then started reading Dredd and bought my first 2000AD for 30 years and finally I found the stories I really wanted to read.
So, although Commando was in black and white, the rest of my staple reading material for most of my comic life has been coloured art from Darkhorse. Given that background, maybe my ability to read the pictures in black and white comics will get better with practice? I don't know.
Yeah, I know what you mean. In the 2000AD 40th Anniversay Special I struggled with Ro-Busters - pure black and white art and very dense, but I could read this one with some effort. Henry Flint's Zombo artwork was quite difficult too although the greyscale screentones really helped for me there.
I do keep trying with this stuff, because it pops up everywhere. For instance, I just got 'The Kreeler Consipracy' - Strontium Dog. Online it looked coloured but it has a coloured story first then black and white then coloured again. Fortunately Esquerra's line work on the black and white one looks pretty readable. He's got stronger lines picking out characters and isn't too heavy with the textures on these particular stories. Sometimes when he goes overboard on the textures and doesn't strengthen the lines which define seperate objects I do find his style hard to read, which is a shame because he's a terrific artist! Anyway, thanks guys!
Is there nothing that could help optically to... I don't want to say 'correct', because I know that isn't... I guess maybe "offset" the problem, is the word, even if it may be somewhat of a kludgy sort of workaround? Or is it strictly a brain/perceptual problem that doesn't respond at all to external physical modification. .. like say, viewing the art through some sort of textured lens? I don't know, just fishing for something here... something that would be affecting/altering contrast or something like that.
The only thing I can think of which might help is to go through a book with some watered-down ink and ink in some grey tones, then read the book afterwards. That way I can do the work of figuring out the pictures first and then enjoy the story without all this stuff getting in the way. Contrast does help a bit if the artist has made the figure/ground differences stand out by using thicker lines to denote seperate characters and objects. Generally though I think it's a visual processing difference in autism.
Thanks again to everyone for some mega-helpful ideas - very much appreciated.