Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Pacing in manga (and some Western comic books)
Knuckles at 11:30AM, Nov. 15, 2007
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I've noticed (especially in the Tokyopop-published books) That the pacing of a story goes VERY fast… It jumps around a lot from one scene to another, perhaps only spending like 2-3 panels worth per scene in some cases as if they're trying to cram a full story in 10-20 pages. There have been some stories I read where it jumped around so much I couldn't understand what was going on and I had to keep going back and re-reading pages just to try and understand what just happened.

Is this a normal thing for manga these days? Very rarely do I actaully come across a manga that actually spends about a minute or two on a scene before it switches to something else. I think there are a few Western comic books that actually do this.

Has anyone else experienced something like this? Is there a reason for such quick pacing or is that a standard thing for comic books?

Myth Xaran (manga) - http://www.drunkduck.com/Myth_Xaran
Exodus Studios (Games & More) - http://www.exodus-studio.com
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
mlai at 12:18PM, Nov. 15, 2007
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I don't think it's a standard thing anywhere. What you're seeing may be new authors trying a new “hip” style of storytelling, consisting of fast cuts and fast tempo, similar to some indie movies.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
Knuckles at 4:04PM, Nov. 15, 2007
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But I don't understand how that is considered cool… >_> Why confuse the reader so much?

So what's the average # of panels or length of time you should spend on a scene to keep it at a good pace?

Myth Xaran (manga) - http://www.drunkduck.com/Myth_Xaran
Exodus Studios (Games & More) - http://www.exodus-studio.com
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
Broken Minds at 5:56PM, Nov. 15, 2007
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Depends on your preferance, and the mood of the story at that point.

If you want to elaborate and really convey something, more panels, if it's not as important to you, then less to simply move along.

I'm not sure there is a real “Standard” but I find 5 to 4 to be plenty to work with. Sometimes less if I'm working more with the visuals than the dialog.

But it's all dependant on whats going on really and how you feel like showing it.

Not a great answer I know, but it's ultimately up to you in the long run. Just go with what feels right to you as a writer and artist.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:35AM
cartoonprofessor at 5:25AM, Nov. 16, 2007
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I agree with Broken Minds.

It is something that would be pretty hard to teach.

You have to rely on what you feel to be an appropriate ‘pace’ for the feelings you are trying to express in the scene.

For example, many small repetitive panels with small variation in each version of the scene will convey a much different pace than one or two large panels from different angles… then the shapes of the panels affect the pace and mood as well… the flow of action drawing the readers' eyes from panel to panel is likewise important to the pace.

Two pages in succession in my comic, Min n Fin were an attempt to create a fast flow of action… I made them both consist of one large panel with the main characters flowing through it. However now when I read it again I realise that I will have to remove one whole page. Two pages like this actually slow down the pace quite severely. If you have read it you would probably know which pages I am talking about.

The simplest thing to remember is; for fast pace… less is best, with much variation (great distance between movements over small amount of time)
for slow pace… more panels with less variation between them.

And remember, no matter how much time you have spent on a page, don't be afraid to edit heavily. Every movie director has to cut scenes from their masterpiece.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
mlai at 5:45AM, Nov. 16, 2007
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I've had to do some painful editing recently… BUT the edited images aren't gone forever. I modify them and recycle them for future chapters!

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
Knuckles at 1:25PM, Nov. 16, 2007
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So the less scenes/panels you show, the quicker the pace? Is it too boring when you have the same scene for so many panels?

Myth Xaran (manga) - http://www.drunkduck.com/Myth_Xaran
Exodus Studios (Games & More) - http://www.exodus-studio.com
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:19PM
mlai at 2:15PM, Nov. 16, 2007
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Only if the setting is boring, static, or obtrusive.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
cartoonprofessor at 6:49PM, Nov. 16, 2007
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Or if the script is lacking.
A ‘boring’ setting, or one lacking in information can be used effectively if you want to emphasise the action or dialogue (less distraction from the important stuff).
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
kyupol at 8:07AM, Nov. 17, 2007
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My pages usually have 2-4 panels. It is rare for me to have as many as 6 panels on a page.

I find it hard to draw miniature things (guess thats part of my n00bness lol).

Though I remember being criticized for having a slow pace.
NOW UPDATING!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:25PM
mlai at 9:11AM, Nov. 17, 2007
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6 panels on an 8.5“ x 11” paper is my standard. Sometimes less, rarely more.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
marine at 6:29PM, Nov. 17, 2007
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I know that stories in penis move fast.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:53PM
patrickdevine at 8:08PM, Nov. 17, 2007
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mlai
Only if the setting is boring, static, or obtrusive.

I might have to disagree on this one, Chris Ware's comics often have a lot of panels per page, (like ACME Novelty Library,) but they're not slow-paced or static at all. Of course these comics usually have a character that you're following around throughout a constantly changing scene. I guess what I'm getting at is that the content of the panels as well as the number of panels can effect the pacing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:41PM

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