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Panel by Panel: 'Goldstar' and the Power of the Establishing Shot

hpkomic at 12:00AM, May 6, 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.

Let's start with our panel in question this week. This one comes from the webcomic of Goldstar of Wishes and Miracles by TheViktor. Specifically, the first panel of page 1, issue 1.

A colorful and intriguing landscape!

Now, as we can see, there is quite a lot going on in this establishing shot. I want to focus on a couple of things though; color, framing, and points of interest. While I think the panel as a whole works quite well as an establishing shot, I also feel like there are elements that could be handled a little differently.

So, regarding color, I think that the funky and bold color choices are certainly interesting and immediately draw the eye. We can see elements of a normal seaside landscape we might see in an earth-bound comic: green, blue, and red, but not where we might expect. The contrast of the blue grass against the red rock outcroppings is particularly standout, even before we bring up the three brightly colored moons in the sky. The colors create a real sense of an alien landscape.

As for the framing, I think the panel is largely successful, but there is also something that throws me, which relates to the points of interest. The panel largely has a compositional flow that pulls us from the left-hand side to the right: notice the way that the slope of the terrain dips down in the center and rises up toward the text in the top right corner of the panel. Overall, it works.

Now for my only criticism, the points of interest may be too much… the moons are so large and brightly colored that they draw the eye, but also change the trajectory of the panel a bit and perhaps heavily weigh the panel to the left. If the moons were perhaps rearranged to more follow the trajectory of the landscape, I feel it could have strengthened the overall effect of the panel. For example, eliminating the bright pop of white from the cloud and stringing the moons across the sky might look a bit stronger. having the largest moon on the horizon, for example, with the other two moons pointing toward the text would be a strong move.

With that being said, I think that as an establishing shot, especially one that features an identification tag for the setting, Goldstar of Wishes and Miracles has done a great job. I think we could all benefit from examples of panels across webcomics all over The Duck, and I am delighted to have an opportunity to really dive into the craft of comics with you all.

With that being said, please let me know what you thought about my impressions of the panel. How often do you use establishing shots in your own comics? Do you have any examples you are particularly proud of? Let me know in the comments.


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PaulEberhardt at 5:13AM, May 9, 2022

My eyes went left to right at first, but then rolled back into the centre to rest on the sea. The panel conveys a feeling of emptiness, which I think is its function the context of the page. I wasn't put off very much by the moons; they rather add a more comicky look to the scene. More importantly they do a lot to break up the symmetry, which is a good thing. I'll wager it'd look comparatively boring if it wasn't that way.

Ozoneocean at 9:01PM, May 8, 2022

My criticism would be that the moons are too close and crowding. I'd spread them a little more and fade the colour and the outlines.

Tantz_Aerine at 9:07AM, May 6, 2022

What an awesome analysis! Welcome to the fold hpkomic and here's to many panel by panel posts!

Banes at 7:10AM, May 6, 2022

This is great. Looking forward to this weekly panel discussion!

Ironscarf at 6:26AM, May 6, 2022

An establishing shot with no dialogue (or only captions) is a challenge, as there are no balloon tails to tell the reader where to look - a method I use a lot! This one has a very definite left to right flow and the contrast of calm sea with a landscape that looks like breaking waves is interesting.

bravo1102 at 4:14AM, May 6, 2022

Great idea to do looks at panels! My only thought on this panel would be to have the moons in phase rather than three balls in the sky. At first I thought they were balloons or something but not moons until I read it in your description.

kawaiidaigakusei at 2:02AM, May 6, 2022

Lovely concept, hpkomic!

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