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Time Stand Still

Banes at 12:00AM, Nov. 16, 2023

Time doesn't really exist in comics. Someone can blast through multiple pages in seconds, or linger on one panel for years. Well, that would be rare. But you see what I'm saying.

What if you want to make your readers slow down? To give your pages the pace you want?

No Talkie

We may have discussed this around the site, but the first and simplest way to do it is to eliminate the dialogue on a panel or page. This forces the reader to, well, not read. They have to look at the pictures to absorb what's going on. This often slows things down.

Well, not necessarily; a wordless page of action packed panels might feel fairly fast paced. But it will still create more immersion in what's going on.

More Detail

This is the same idea. If a picture has more detail, it can cause the eye to wander around the page, absorbing everything in the panel, especially if the effort is bolstered by a lack of dialogue.

Aspect to Aspect

This type of panel transition is covered in Scout Mcloud's Understanding Comics/Making Comics books. Several panels, showing different aspects of the scene, can slow things right down as well as pulling readers into the environment. Imagine a scene inside a restaurant…(no, I'm not gonna draw it! Who has that kinda time??)

Panel One: A couple at a table, laughing
Panel Two: Two wine glasses clink together
Panel Three: Closeup of a knife slicing into a steak
Panel Four: A waiter walks along, tray in hand
Panel Five: …

…Etcetera. Moving aspect to aspect can slow things down, even with smaller panels.


A borderless panel that has no “frame”, with the image going to the edge of the page (literal or web page), can again force the reader to slow down and take it all in, whereas framed panels will tend to be taken in more quickly.

These are the techniques that come to mind to slow down time in a comic. They can be used in combination, especially with the no dialogue (or minimal dialogue) thing. Too much dialogue might keep the focus on the words and make it less likely the reader will slow down.

Or that's my theory at least.

Have you used techniques like this to slow things down or create a deeper connection to what's going on in your comic? Are there other techniques you think would work?

See you next time!

take ‘er slow, y’all!


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Stahlberg at 5:25AM, Nov. 19, 2023

The only technique I use is words, because I see a piece of text I can NEVER not read it - so I can't skip over it, like I can with imagery. It's the thing that happens when you're eating breakfast, and you read the text on the cereal over and over, every time your eyes happen to point in that direction, until it gets annoying, but you still can't stop... so when I want to slow time down, many similar frames just isn't enough for me, I always try to add text, even a single syllable like Ah! or a sound effect, can be enough. When I see many similar frames in a comic I just automatically skip really fast through that page, until I see the pay-off at the end, which usually isn't how it was intended to be read. In the example above, I didn't see the snail first, that's how fast I skipped through it to the text bubble. I had to go back and read it again. That's not how I want my comic read, I want it to flow at the intended rate on the first reading. (not that I always succeed)

Tantz_Aerine at 10:05AM, Nov. 17, 2023

Great article! I'd also say repetition of a panel from different angles, showing daylight drifting into twilight into night, or a clock being the only thing that changes is a pretty on-the-nose way to show passage of time.

PaulEberhardt at 4:53AM, Nov. 16, 2023

I've used all of them, and they work. Making things more complex, including the dialogue, can slow things down. There's a caveat, though. Taking long to draw it doesn't automatically mean it also takes long to take it in. The details need to be interesting enough to get some attention. Too much clutter may either blend into kind of a white noise background or tempt readers to skip it - and not return to it if it turns out not to have been that important after all. I think, causing just the right amount of confusion is key; too much clarity will invite speedruns, too much muddle will make it to inaccessible to bother with.

marcorossi at 4:30AM, Nov. 16, 2023

It is strange but I think the methods used to show that something happens really fast would be the same that are used to slow down time, a sort of "bullet time".

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