Doing more with less
The single panel comic presents unique challenges to the comic book creator. More than a training exercise, single panel comics are a medium of their own. Their limited space forces the writer/artist to think economically and efficiently. If you have never made a comic before this is ideal. Single panel comics are a great gateway to making comics. There is no lighter possible workload.
- Anatomy of a Panel
- Notes on close quarters comic creations
- Breaking down a single panel comic
Anatomy of a Panel:
Gutter: White space outside the panel.
Panel: Indicated by bold black rectangle.
Caption(s)/Word Balloon(s): What cannot be explained through action alone.
Background: Setting, time, place, mood via imagery and perspective.
Character: Actions and body language push plot and are what the reader will connect to on a visual level.
Notes on close quarters comic creations
The formula I find effective is to use the background and body language/ action(s) of the character(s) to give the reader the "who, what, where, when and how". Leaving the dialogue and caption(s) to handle the "why". If you are to compare this to a joke, the background and character(s) actions(s) would be your set up and the caption(s)/word balloon(s) would be your punchline.
Every element within the panel must serve the overall story. With so little space available, efficiency is essential. Utilizing each element to say more than one thing at a time creates a rich single frame. The key is to be as descriptive as necessary with each element to get your story out clearly.
Skid #4 Written & Illustrated by Loroko Copyright 2019. All rights Reserved.
Breaking down Skid #4
Character: Body language shows he is cold, mobile but his face is stern and determined. He clutches on to his bundle and cape as he marches on.
Background: The moon shines down and city lights glow in a bad part of town. The moon, stars, rubbish on the ground and graffiti you set a definite time and place . The low horizon (also known as a worms eye view or WEV for short) makes for a rather vulnerable angle for the reader, as everything towers around you. The vanishing point helps lead the eye downward through the panel, more on this in the captions section.
Captions: The placement of the captions lead the eye from top left to bottom right, after the first two captions, the vanishing point helps to pull the eye downward into the final caption. The word "shoes" appears at about shoe level for Skid, perhaps prompting the reader to check on the state of his shoes. They are not in the best shape which is where the story actually ends... or is it?
Now that we are back at his shoes, the eyes naturally travel up his body to which leads to the top caption. This circular traveling of the eye is the result of planned out composition.
Conclusion: No one element in a single panel comic tells the whole story, instead all the elements must work together to get a single point across. Single panel comics can be challenging but are great for the absolute beginner.