Last week, I spoke of ways I’m thinking of building my comics in the future by looking at both print and web construction without sacrificing storytelling for either. I mentioned the 9 Panel Grid, which is getting some attention again with Warren Ellis’ Fell. You can stuff a crapload of content in a comic laid out in the 9 Panel Grid, and if you break the grid where appropriate, the storytelling doesn’t feel so confined. Fell has some good moments where the grid gets broken – not completely, mind you. However, instead of a third row of three panels, Ellis and Templesmith (the artist) gives you a widescreen shot of action. It works well.
The grid that I like in particular though is the 8 Panel Grid. There is no aesthetic or storytelling reason for this, just personal preference. As some creators have pointed out, they can tell I was influenced a great deal by David Lapham of Stray Bullets. Not so much with the style of my artwork, but with the way I layout a page and pace the story. The 8 Panel Grid is broken down basically into two columns of 4 panels.
Here is half of a page from Stray Bullets:
This is one possible format of pushing comics up on the web that would work for me, I believe. I’m thinking in this format of publishing an update three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).
There are also opportunities to break the grid. Last night after a successful night of yoga (I can finally do handstands with no spot – all I need now is a Yoda to balance on my feet), I sat down to read The Life and Times of Uncle Scrooge. Yes, the Uncle Scrooge from the old cartoon Duck Tales (a-woo-woo). This collection by the amazing Don Rosa is a fantastic read. I love all-ages adventure stories, and Rosa’s cartooning is just pure fun. Most notable though is his use of the 8 Panel Grid.
Here we can see good examples of how he breaks the monotony of the two columns of four panels for two columns of four rows of panels. Each of the rows has panels that are shifted over the mid-line of its column, and sometimes the rows have more than two panels. By breaking visual expectations (humans like visual patterns, remember), the reader spends more time on each page digesting the information presented to them; it doesn’t let the eyes move swiftly through the composition. Looking back at the Stray Bullets example, you can see how quickly your eyes move through that one (granted, there isn’t much dialogue, but the Rosa page has no dialogue in the presented example).
Both of these examples could be handy – a more templated look built for action or for moving the reader along, and breaking the template for keeping the reader in place.
These are things I think about before going to sleep, eating lunch, petting the dog, taking a crap, etc.
It never gets boring.
You can also browse through the Parlor archives.
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