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No. 1382:

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Permanent URL: https://mezzacotta.net/postcard/?comic=1382

Quoted from an email originally sent to: Cody

The author writes:

What is the fourth wall?

That is a very good question, dear readers. The fourth wall has its roots in the 1800s in theatre. It was a term used to describe the invisible wall between the audience and the characters on stage. Since a set would normally have three walls, the invisible wall was called the "fourth wall" to indicate that there is a wall there, but it cannot be seen. Interesting, isn't it, reader? In recent years the term is used to refer to when a character breaks the fourth wall. After all, what's the point in having a fourth wall if it can't be broken? Hey, you at home! Stop doing that! The fourth wall can be broken, torn down, or just plain old mutilated. Hey, you! The kid who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska! Does your mother know you're doing that? As I was saying, the fourth wall can be broken, in which case the characters will simply speak to the readers or viewers once and never again. It can also be torn down. In which case a character will have the reader or viewer become part of the story. And then there's mutilating the fourth wall. In which the character will completely tear down the fourth wall and never bother to put it back up. In this case (which is usually only done on television), the character will interact with the directors and producers of a show, as well as ask for copies of the script, or even walk outside of the set to the studio and sometimes may not even bother coming back in. Fourth wall breaking is usually best done in cartoons, since it looks very weird when done in live action. For more information about fourth wall breaking, see here (do it or I'll track you down).