Illustrated Journal: Observing Comics

During the last week, my classmates and I were asked to read some comics in order to take a closer look at how the how scenes progressed, characters were formed and posed, and how the panels were set up. During this time I took a look at both a comic, a manga specifically, and a webcomic in order to see their differences.

In terms of panels, I found something quite interesting in my comparison. In terms of the physical manga, each page usually had a few panels which the reader would follow through to get the scene. Each panel was quite rigid in this specific comic, with characters or actions only “escaping” the edges if the action or moment was intense or extremely important. However, despite it being rigid, the panels came in many shapes and sizes to help accommodate the information needed to be displayed at a time. On the other hand, the web comic I looked at have very minimal panels, with them only being used when more than one thing was happening at once. This is most likely due to the differences in medium. In a physical book, you need to plan out the information for a specific number of pages and you need to take into account how to present the information so it still remains dramatic in your reveals. For example, if one was going to present something that would be extremely shocking, the most effective place would be to place it after a page turn as the surprise would be the first thing a reader would see upon a page turn. However a webcomic, unless there are plans to print later, does not need to worry about such things. In the web comic I looked at each “page” had exactly one panel which could be any size the author would need. There is no pressing need to get all the information within a page limit (unless less the author sets one for themselves) so they can take as much time as they need showing the information. Also as each image is either scrolled to or loaded one after another, there is no need to plan it out for the best shock as viewers get each panel one at a time. No need to cram it all on one page. Its an interesting development to come from something as simple as a medium change.

Looking at how the characters were posed, this had a lot more to do with the type of story rather than the medium used. The manga I looked at was very action based in the volume of the series I picked up. Thus, there almost every pose was dynamic to help show the motion of the fights and rarely did anyone simply stand straight up in a base pose for more than one panel. The author also used many blur and speed lines to help with the conveying of movement within a scene. Along with this, the expressions on the characters faces were varied and exaggerated to a point, in a way to help the reader understand the intensity of their emotions. For the web comic, while also being an action based story, I looked at a scene where some characters met and had a conversation rather than a fight scene. In this instance, the character poses were very contained, with a lot of standing or calmly walking around. There was no need for motion blurs or speed lines as there was no urgency or rush in the story. However, this did not make the visuals any less entertaining of eye grabbing. While yes they characters mainly just stood there, the artist put more effort into making the angles of the image interesting or drawing images that required foreshortening to keep the dynamics of depth that would be present in the real world. It kept it interesting without needing someone to punch another character or yell something every other panel.

Finally looking at how the story was told, I found that both of the comics i looked at used “action to action” storytelling the most with some “movement to movement” and “aspect to aspect” sprinkled in. However, this fact does not overly not surprise me when i look at the whole story. In both cases I look at small chunks where the world and setting was already mainly developed, more so in the manga. Looking at the manga, the entire volume was focused n a fight that was established already in a previous volume. Therefore, it relied heavily on the “action to action” aspect and reserved the other two for dramatic reveals and buildups within the fight or scene changes. While the time frame in general for the fight might not have been very long, a lot of actions movement and things that couldn’t be described through dialogue happened, stretching it out. However, looking at the webcomic, while there was still a majority of “action to action” the author used a lot more “movement to movement” as the characters are having a drawn out, mainly still, conversation. There was also more use of “aspect to aspect” as the location of the scene was new to the readers, so the author used this technique to help build and develop the unfamiliar scenery for the reader.

Overall it was interesting to view the differences and similarities of both works. They both serve their own purpose and audience in a way that best suits them and they do it in an entertaining and effective way. It really just makes you realize how much planning must go into those panels of every comic you read.


The comics studied in this post were D. Gray Man vol. 21 (Chapters 194-199) by Katsura Hoshino, and Countdown to Countdown episode Two by Vel

web comic link here-

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