Today’s Order of the Stick contains a fascinating bit of storytelling.  The situation: Elan (rightmost figure) has just learned something devastating about his father.  He rushes to tell his girlfriend Haley (the redhead).

The clever bit is, we don’t hear their conversation; we just see their gestures and facial expressions, while listening to snippets of the unimportant conversation of the three characters in the foreground.

It’s clever, because something has to be done to indicate that Elan brought Haley up to date, but it’s inherently dull (we just saw the events ourselves in the previous strips).  In a novel you could just say “Elan quickly told Haley what he learned”, but that doesn’t work as well in comics.  So Burlew found an innovative way to say the same thing without the dull part.

Burlew has a way with villains, by the way.  His Xykon, evil overlord as bored CEO, is amusing.  But Elan’s father is a neat creation.  He has two sons, naive but good bard Elan and evil plotting rogue Nale, and his personality is a perfect triangulation between the two: he’s got the calculation and amorality of Nale and the friendliness and theatricality of Elan.  The combination is interesting and refreshingly far from the usual eeeevil.

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