Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Comic flow
JustNoPoint at 7:13AM, Dec. 18, 2007
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I seem to have come across a slight problem. I need a little help in understanding how I should balance 2 rules in regard to comic page flow. The rules are as follows

1. Keep the action, events, characters moving or looking in a direction that flows with the direction you read the comic. Barring anything that can aid in pacing of course.

2. Keep relations correct (as in I have land on the left and water on the right)
Land has been established as left so I should try and keep it as such, water should be kept at right)

If people were heading toward the water then making them head to the right is easy. So the events flow well. However if all of a sudden a huge wave comes up the flow shifts. Now everything is moving toward the left opposite of the way the reader should read.

What is the best approach? Should the action continue to go in reverse to maintain water land relations that have been established? Or should I try and spin the camera around to make everything flow correct again?

I had been trying to keep the relations correct in most normal panel pages. I didn't realize I was throwing the flow off until I got recent feedback mentioning it.

Thanks to anyone that gives input =)
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:12PM
Frostflowers at 9:43AM, Dec. 18, 2007
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I've got nothing to help you, because I struggle with this, so I just sort of want to second this topic - any sort of resources or explanations or help would be greatly appreciated. :)
The Continued Misadventures of Bonebird - a poor bird's quest for the ever-elusive and delicious apples.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:31PM
CharleyHorse at 10:09AM, Dec. 18, 2007
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Arrrrgh! I say again, arrrrrgh! This is because I've read so many explanations of this ‘rule’ that it's coming out of my ears and I STILL don't grasp it more than half the time.

Just to be certain here, are we talking about not crossing 180 degree rule in our scene?

Anyway, I think that we need to remember that we are artists and allowed to take some liberties with these rules. One way to completely justify the reversal of presentation from left to right is to swing deliberately swing the camera itself up so that you are looking directly down on your characters, and then around to the other side so that they are seen from the opposite side.

If this is NOT what you are talking about then mea-culpa for my misunderstanding.

My philosophy though, is to do one's best to follow the visual narrative rules but be willing to break any one of them to fulfill the needs of the unfolding story. Okay, so do I have the wrong end of the stick on this or what?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
JustNoPoint at 10:48AM, Dec. 18, 2007
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That's part of the issue. Basically which rule should be better respected?

It seems that camera spinning like you say could do well. But it can present the problem of the background changing (if the two sides of the area are different, you wouldn't know the characters are backtracking as well). That's only a problem if you had some sort of markers you wanted to keep up with of course. It also “may” throw the reader for a loop even with the overhead shot establishing the camera spin. It may be odd to now see the water coming from the opposite direction.

Aside from what I just typed above, the basic question is which should be more important?

Clarity in relations to objects/people or comic flow?

Up till now I considered clarity more important. Flow and clarity are easy to mix if I want to make “funky” panel layouts But not every scene should flow that much. So at times I try to slow the pace with more normal panel layouts(the squares and rectangles). These are the ones that get hard to keep a steady rhythm in and I tend to think of normal squares more along the lines of a paused tv image.

I probably overcomplicated the question :P I'll just go back to: Clarity or flow?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:12PM
Blackmoon at 1:04PM, Dec. 18, 2007
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Seems like a question of personal style to me. I think it comes down to whether YOU think clarity or flow is more important, or whether you'd rather put in the effort to have them both in balance.

I prefer flow. I try and throw in style with camera angles whenever I can, because “Talking Head Syndrome” always kills a comic. Tends to mess with clarity, sometimes, but I like to assume my readers (what few there are) are more educated than your average rhesus monkey and can figure out what's going on when the camera moves around.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:23AM
spacehamster at 4:29PM, Dec. 21, 2007
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I tend to solve this problem by alternating between wide angle shots and closeups. To take your example, which way the boat moves doesn't have to be represented and/or be a factor in the structure of every panel. Throw in a closeup of the characters on the boat talking or whatever it is they're doing, then go back to a wide angle shot of the approaching wave, or better yet, a downshot, because then you can pretty much point the axis of the movement any way you please.

I tend to approach every individual panel this way, really - first I determine which way do I want the reader's eye to move, then I try to find the best angle from which to show whatever's going on so that the motion actually flows that way.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:50PM
CharleyHorse at 7:14PM, Dec. 21, 2007
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That's darn good advice spacehamster. I'll definitely keep it in mind for the future!
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
JustNoPoint at 6:40PM, Dec. 22, 2007
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Indeed. I do seem to be staying too close to the same view point. I mean I do off the wall angles but not in a way that really helps the flow. More like only if I thought the scene would benefit or that I figured I had drawn the same angles too much.

I'll see if I can adjust the axis better to help the flow while still trying to maintain both rules I mentioned.

Thanks a lot!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:12PM

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