September 04, 2005

The Comics Thing

I came across this page with a reading of the Good Samaritan window at Chartres Cathedral. Here is the diagram - it's bigger when you follow the link

I have long thought of the possibilities of stained glass as 'sequential art'. This page reminds me once again that there is a precedent for it. I witnessed this window being 'read' as a story by the long time English guide at Chartres, Malcom Miller, and I remember thinking at the time - this thing is a comic strip!

The Good Samaritan/Creation window is especially interesting to me in that it translates so directly into the form of a modern comic strip, except that it goes bottom to top rather than top to bottom. It certainly has panels with gutters - gutters being the bands of space outside story panels that are usually blank, but here are highly colorful and ornamental.
I also love the sophisticated narrative. Two stories on top of each other that then relate to each other. The telling of the Good Samaritan first, then the story of Adam and Eve. The idea being that the act of compassion by the Good Samaritan is a metaphor for Christ's act of compassion in sacrificing his life for fallen man - Christ is the Good Samaritan. Unfortunately, this sequential element was never developed further in stained glass past the 14th century or so, and certainly does not exist at all today.

Posted by Tom at September 4, 2005 02:05 PM