It can, and it can distract attention from the main drive of the drama, both of which can drive the reader to boredom.
Obviously a richly-detailed, well-thought out fictional world is going to fascinate a reader, and it will require some degree of description and exposition. But I think it's very important to make sure that said exposition is a natural part of the texture of the drama, rather than an abrupt PSA ("We now interrupt our scheduled programming for some backstory!") kind of thing.
Think about some of the great films and comics with richly-imagined universes—the original Star Wars is a perennial example, Watchmen another good one—and think about how subtly, almost imperceptibly, information is transmitted to us in these texts about the nature and history of their unique worlds. The supporting information is a natural part of the central drama. And that's how you hook readers!
It depends. If it's very obvious that one just uses the narrator to fill in gaps because one doesn't have the ability to show how the characters feel through drawings and dialogue, that's cheating. lol
i think about this a lot, too. while it's not quite the same of course, narration in a comic is similar to a voiceover in a movie, and i usually view it like that to decide whether or not i want to use it. some movies have great, integral voiceovers, but it's not hard to imagine how a voiceover would come off silly or unnecessary, so i try to approach it like that. but i've never done a comic with narration so maybe that's telling, haha. i almost did, though, but i scrapped all the narration captions after a couple revisions.
i don't think it has to be "cheating" depending on how you do it, but i think narration captions could facilitate laziness, like if you can't figure out how to reveal who a character is or the backstory through the dialogue then you resort to just telling it to the reader without pushing yourself toward a more subtle method just because you can't come up with anything else. on the other hand, narrative captions can also be their own challenge, like if i did them they would totally blow and sound stupid, so i think there's an art to them, too.
i think vert-is-ninja sums it up pretty good, sorry for being so long-winded!
No, I love this comment because I consider your advice especially helpful (you're, you know, published and stuff). I worry about the narration because my narrator (not a character in the story) is being used almost solely for the purpose of telling backstory that I feel would be awkward to include in dialogue. But I can't shake the feeling that perhaps a stronger writer would be able to do this. So it worries me.
ah, i see, i guess i was coming at it more from the narrator being a character. hmmm. maybe it actually makes things easier if it's just a narration caption and not a character, it seems like there might be less baggage that way. it would be more like the Star Wars opening text or a "previously in..." type thing. maybe you should just do it and not worry about it, just throw the backstory text in there! i think if you write it in an engaging, interesting, concise way, then it'll be great.
i don't know what your story is or what the setting is so this might not fit, but maybe you could have a scene with a character in history class where she's learning about the backstory? haha. or it might be funny to have the characters reveal the backstory by studying for a history test!!
"Okay, what was the natural landmark that the Dead Army captured in the year 7432?" "ummm... the Moon Of Skulls?" "No! The Soul Chasm! You're totally gonna fail this test!"
As long as the narration isn't pure exposition, it's ok xD The comic should be easy enough to understand without relying on the narrator to reveal everything! But if you're talking about backstory, using a narrator is more interesting that way ;D can't wait to see it, btw!