Following up on the last post about the term understanding–but with a bit less philosophical bent.
When a cartoonist draws an object (particularly in a sequential format like comics or graphic novel) he enters into an understanding with the reader. Simply stated, “This set of line segments will mean such-and-such.”
What amounts to a squiggle of ink can become a lock of hair. A curved line a hip. A series of parallel lines fingers. Two dots become eyes. But to suddenly change these can confuse or shock the reader.
Though such shocking effects can be used from time to time to surprise the reader, it’s generally more important to maintain the visual idiom throughout the work.
For the cartoonist this may threaten to become tedious. So much of the work of cartooning is finding ways to make those established visual idioms interesting to draw. The other part is figuring out which ones work well together–these are the components of style.