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Panel By Panel: Redneck and Panel Orientation

hpkomic at 6:29PM, Aug. 12, 2022

Hello and welcome to Panel by Panel, an analysis of panels from comics right here on The Duck and exploring what they do, how they work, and what we can learn from them.

This week we will check out a panel from the webcomic Redneck by user Metsuke. This is the chapter four, page five in the comic.

This week I wanted to look at a panel that plays well with vertical orientation. It's not too shocking when you read most comics that most panels bear shapes and proportions similar to those of screens. When it comes to how many comics are drawn, in the US, we tend to move in a pattern that is essentially left to right, then down, and again to the left and right. It's just a quirk of how comics language has played out for about a century, and it is familiar. Usually, if someone doesn't follow this form as we might expect, it may throw things off and confuse us, such as having critical dialogue in places that violate that eye movement we are used to.

However, using a vertical panel can be pretty impactful and does a lot of exciting work in several ways. I've only posted a single panel of the larger page, so I suggest that you take in the whole page (and leave a nice comment, too) to see what I mean. This panel, in particular, disrupts the expected flow of the page by leading our eye downward without making it to the opposite corner of the page. Still, even then, the logic within the panel is sound: dialogue from left to right, and the page can be scanned from left to right, top to bottom.

Metsuke also does a great job building visual interest by giving us three focal points in our vision. There is, of course, a far distance, but in mid-field, we have the talking character, and in the foreground, we have another character. We're put into the scene in an interesting way here. You get a good sense of depth, and the whole panel uses figures quite efficiently. We get to see the entirety of the speaker and the focus of the panel, but we also get a sense of the other character, and their scale is also appropriate and communicates depth.

All in all, great usage of a vertical panel. What about you, though? Do you have any examples from a comic you've done? For example, I can present a panel from my comic, Cosmic Dash. Please share what vertical panels you've done!

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metsuke at 6:44AM, Aug. 16, 2022

That page is def a Jack Kirby four panel. I have a cheat sheet of King Kirby panel ideas ranging from three to nine panels that I keep in my sketchbook. I also agree that the vertical panel is great for building tension, creating that penultimate moment, etc. As far as panel structure for Redneck, I'm still at a stage where I try to keep things simple. There aren't too many panel breaks or open panels, but I do use them when I feel like the time is right. I'm still stumbling around in the dark when making comics so it really meant the World to Me to read your post. Thanks :)

PaulEberhardt at 6:18AM, Aug. 13, 2022

A vertical panel like this doesn't only do wonders in terms of focus but in terms of timing, too. It can serve as a frame for things that happen simultaneously without creating a visual onslaught that is rushing things. As in this example, the effect is a build-up where things haven't yet got hot but promise to do so soon - immediacy without rushing. On the page, the top panel to the right (the elephant and the fighters getting into position down in the arena) clearly happens at the same time as the dialogue, which continues in the other panels, but doesn't quite take away the focus from the event and the Hunter, and that way it doesn't interrupt the proverbial calm before the storm. When all hell breaks loose on the following pages it's that more effective because of it... Gotta love Redneck, btw.!

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