Monday, October 12, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #334 -- Panel Problems

NOTE: This one comes from a friend with some questions about her first comic book script. She was gracious enough to let me share her questions and my responses here.

So, my artist sent me the first sketches of his sequential art and he's concerned because it has eight panels on the page. He said 4-6 panels was the norm with 7 being the upper edge (typically).

I don't have many pages in the book that are more than 5-6 panels, but there are a few. And I don't want to be dismissive of his concern, but I'm not sure if I should reshuffle the entire script to eliminate the few pages that have 8-9 panels.

What's your experience in this regard? Am I overthinking this?

It's not a simple as a black and white answer. In one sense, he's right. The current trend is to write between 4-7 panels per page in standard mainstream comics, fewer in manga. But, when laid out well, more panels than that are perfectly acceptable. It's all about readability.

There is this however: more panels = fewer words per panel in dialog and narration, fewer panels gives you room for more words per panel.

Watchmen is consider the pivotal masterpiece of graphic novel storytelling, and it consistently runs a 3x3 grid (9 panels per page) throughout the book except for key events. The trick is to find the right ratio for you and your artist since you're a team.