Pacing and Rhythm

edited July 2013 in The Toolbox
I found this really neat article about pacing over at Sequart and I found it quite fascinating. It broke the pacing of Watchmen #2 and why it was so efficient at giving us an interesting comic where not a lot happens. Not only that, I found this conclusionary point very interesting:

"In summation, large money shots of heroes in action poses don’t just
hog valuable story space, they also negatively impact the pacing of the
story. These shots, so beloved by collectors, are actually counter
intuitive to keeping a reader of the comic engaged! That’s the first
major point."

Now I'm curious as to what other people feel about this or how you feel comic pacing works.

Here's the article:


  • A few random thoughts:

    The article was a thoughtful analysis. Thanks for sharing.

    Big splash pages are very much about the artist making extra money selling the originals. Easy to understand the motive, and really the blame lies with fans preferring these pages to ones that are more about comics/story/pacing.  Oh well.

    My current project, an adaptation of Venus in Furs is a close investigation of an evolving relationship. It has a fair number of scene changes, lots of conversation and little action. There is some violence in the form of several whippings, and I plan to do these as small quick staccato panels.

    One the other hand, breaking a small action down into many small panels can slow the action down enormously.
  • "Big splash pages are very much about the artist making extra money selling the originals."

    They aren't just about that. I get asked by editorial to do them in the scripts, too.
  • Fair enough. And I wasn't really trying to be absolute. But could you go into the rationale for asking for them?

  • They're fanservice. Longtime superhero readers have come to expect them.
  • Most of the time they are just that, fanservice. But there are times when they can actually serve a storytelling purpose. In the context of pacing, a splash page is designed to have the eye linger on the page, meaning that whatever you are going to say in that panel, should be a focal point of the story. The problem is that most comics overuse them.
    I agree with @marvinmann, splash pages are very effective in showing a lot of different actions going on at the same time. When done correctly. At their worst, they are misplaced pin-up pages which bring you out of the story.
  • Sure, they can be a great storytelling device.  But editors ask for them because the fans think they're hawt.
  • As far as I can tell, Jason is entirely correct. I am fairly judicious in my use of splash pages, otherwise. I think Legend of Luther Strode has maybe three, and I'm not sure if Strange Talent actually had any.
  • That article makes some good points, but I disagree completely with the claim that more panels = faster pace. To my eye, it's the exact opposite. A nine panel page with a lot of text is slow...the reader is going to spend more time absorbing the information there, because it's so dense. Whereas one big panel with only a line or two of dialogue? You blip past that in a couple of seconds. This is the problem comics run into when they try too hard to duplicate film techniques. In a movie, a long silent shot does indeed serve to "slow down the pace" and "let the story breathe", but in a comic, you can't force the reader to stop and stare at your beautiful vista. If it looks like there's nothing going on, they're going to "fast forward" to the next panel with a word balloon in it. Too many sequences like that, and you end up with the common complaint, "That comic only took three minutes to read!" Definitely not a problem with Watchmen.
  • @JKevinCarrier I agree with everything about that, its why I appreciate the comics that do that because as a reader I want the book to last as long as it can.

    I also think he's referring to fight scenes. Why make it three pages when you can trim it down to a nine panel grid that just takes up a page?
  • So its essentially the same rational in asking for them in a book as it is in drawing them for separate sale. Better sales. That's about what I thought. Six of one...
  • I sometimes include a splash page in a script as artistservice: to let them loosen up and have some fun filling a page with one big drawing.  Of course it has to make sense for the pacing of the story too.
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