Friday, August 19, 2011


A couple weeks back (or whenever it came out) I decided to pick up Fear Itself #5 just because I wanted to see the Hulk and Thing versus Thor fight. Okay, and maybe I just wanted to read a single comic again, it's been a while. But after reading it I was pretty disappointed. The book just didn't seem to have much substance to it, either in that fight or the other stuff going on. And after thinking about it for a while I think one of the problems was what I felt was ineffective use of space.

I think too many panels were too large. I know I sound like your typical "in my day" comic fan but you look back at some of the artistic masters from the past they use small panels to display action and on one page you got a whole sequence and that made it feel intense. Here you have a full page only showing a small part of a sequence. It looks pretty but to me, it's boring to read and doesn't really engage me as a reader.

One thing I've taken from my webcomics is to make every page count and get in as much as possible. Partly it's the typical webcomic updating (one page at a time so you want that page to count) and partly it's that when I tried the large panel after large panel people spent less time and were less engaged in reading it. And that's how I felt here. With large panel after large panel I just breezed through it. Not to mention that when you do try to keep the panel size down it's more jarring when you do go to the larger one, a trick you can use to shock the reader. Large panel after large panel just becomes boring.

This also makes me think of the iPod/iPad stuff. People talk about how when they read comics on them and go panel from panel it can adjust the size of the panel to fit the screen (enlarging small panels). I think that's wrong. Now you could say that artists have to compensate for it and make sure their panels fit well but I think it takes away some of the storytelling control the creators have. If you really want your comic to be viewable on the iPad in that way then perhaps you have to find some balance. To be honest, I have too many thoughts going on in my head and I could ramble about this one forever but I don't want to take over this rambling with another, I just wanted to put it out there.

Now I'm just an amateur webcomic guy so obviously I know less about making comics than your average (or pretty much any) professional. And this is all just my opinion, others are free (and apparently do) disagree. But it's how I feel.


caanantheartboy said...

I wonder if the one panel per page Death of Superman is partly to blame. I know Erik Larsen did it on Savage Dragon as a kind of exercise/homage to the process. Hmm...

Also, I've not read comics on the iPad, but I have read the first free issue of Celadore on the iPhone and the delivery system actually kind of works. Granted, most of my panels are mostly the same size, so nothing looked really squished, or too small, etc. but the fact that you can't see the next panel coming does WONDERS for comedic effect. I actually laughed at my own comic! (A rarity indeed!!)

I imagine it may also be used effectively for horror/thriller type stuff.

Darrell said...

I'm not sure Death of Superman is necessarily to blame. I think most people recognized that the story suffered from that gimmick (that last issue with all splash pages was pretty bad). I think it's something that's just progressed from what some people call "more cinematic" storytelling while others say it's writing for the TPB. Either way, it seems stories are becoming decompressed and individual panels are being given more room (unnecessarily in some instances in my opinion).

I think some books do work and yeah, being able to hide upcoming panels can help in some cases (keeping the surprise, punchline, shock, or whatever hidden) but I just haven't found the right balance. If you write more for effects you can get digitally you are limiting yourself for print, if you write more for print you limit yourself digitally, and if you try to write for both you limit yourself both ways. Though perhaps in time people will find things that work for both.