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Panel By Panel: 'Adventures of Sena' and Trying New Things

hpkomic at 11:25AM, Jan. 26, 2024

Hello, everyone, and welcome to Panel by Panel, a periodic exploration of comic panels around The Duck.

This week I wanted to look at a comic that was brought up in the comments of my previous post when discussing framing of panels. It's always a fun opportunity to write about a comic shared in the posts' comments.

The comic in question is Adventures of Sena, by user edniz. We'll look at some examples of framing in comics, drawn from the initial comment that caught my attention and what I picked out.

First, the comment; edniz provides a couple of links, and then the following:

I tend to use the ornaments when I am in “storytelling mode”, which gives a more dreamy/magical feeling that complements the text. I feel like it helps make it flow better, preserving that feeling you may get reading a book. It takes away from the more static rhythm of regular panels. When I go into dialog however, or any casual part of the story, I go with regular panels. I believe that this gives a nice balance to the flow.

So, let's look at this in action. The first example comes from page 3, ‘Shun Fei’.

The framing presented here, the squared-off, stylized swirls, provide a lot of texture to the page and present a storybook context. They are a fine addition, lending the page's narrative a more fantastic feel. You could almost call the presentation through the framing “fableistic.” It's especially neat how they feel like a companion and extension to the clouds in the first panel of the page. It's quite an excellent addition to the page.

The second example edniz provided came from page 12, 'Mom?":

The principles of the framing style here are similar to the previous example, but the texture of it all is different and provides a unique feel. Again, many little flourishes exist in the designs of the frames, but in this case, they feel more grounded. The textured element feels almost like gilding or carving - something solid. It contrasts nicely against the previous examples' more abstract, cloud-like framing.

The more “grounded” elements here also frame a more “grounded” drama. The prior example felt mythic and drawn back, like the establishment of a fairy tale. Here, we are in the midst of an exchange at a smaller scale between a child and their mother. Excellent work here, as well.

The thing I noticed with both of these, almost like a possible rule, was how they are tied to narration. The framing changes as we return to a more omniscient approach to conveying the story. Based on these examples, that is what I expect as I read - flourished panels are tied to narration.

The problem is that expectation was not met. An example of this comes on a later page, page 21, ‘The Avatar Has Abandoned Us’.

While the context is the whole page, I picked out a couple of examples where the panel frames have signs of flourish, even if they are slight. In this case, the flourishes feel off to me because I already expected flourishes to have the context of the narrative mode of omniscient narration. In the context of a page, we're seeing an assembly in what is ‘real-time,’ and thus, we have no ‘outside view’ of the situation that the change in framing can signify. It makes the flourishes here extraneous and inconsistent with prior pages we've seen. It also stands out from surrounding pages in the sequence where the flourishes are not present.

So, I suggest limiting those unique frames to moments where the narrative takes a step back, where narration kicks in, rather than adding them in what feels like more random spots. It makes them more effective overall, more mythical and creates a unique visual language for the comic overall.

But those are my thoughts. Thank you, edniz, for sharing your panels in the comments, and I hope you continue the great work. For everyone else, please check out the Adventures of Sena.

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edniz at 5:52PM, Jan. 27, 2024

Edit to my first comment because I'm most probably autistic: Okay, so I'm only analyzing what I've been doing now and saying that I've only used basic framing in very mundane situations was wrong. The truth is, I can't really pinpoint an exact rule because of the many variants. I can only say that, to my mind, the decision wasn't random, but I don't know how it effects the reading experience for others. Anyway, will pay more attention and thank you for reading XD (Also, I've written 'narrative' but I meant 'narration'.)

edniz at 5:29PM, Jan. 27, 2024

Now that I think about it, I use it sort of like music. Therefore I feel like it helps with pacing? Is it just me or does it actually work? I hope it does, but I can understand how it can be a bit confusing for someone when things always keep changing without a very obvious meaning. I wouldn't want to loose my reader's focus, but I'm hoping that people can get a feel for it as they keep on reading. Taking the example of the last image on the post: The first frame feels a bit more grounded, a bit more slow, because of the bolder and slightly ornamented frame. The second frame is lighter and therefore passes by a bit faster. At least this is the impression that I get and was intending. (Would love to hear feedback on this) Additionally, I also feel like having absolutely no ornamentation other than the narrative frames would feel a bit disconnected.

edniz at 5:09PM, Jan. 27, 2024

Thank you for the feature and all of your commentary! Up until now I had only taken feedback from Skyangel for my comic, so it's very pleasant to see this. I had not considered what you said about your expectation for seeing ornamented panels only in narrative situations. There are many of those small flourishes throughout the entire story. I can't say that they are necessary, but just something I personally enjoy. I felt like they helped preserve a little bit of that 'outside view' and 'fableistic' feel. There are of course frames which lack it altogether, but those were not random. I believe I've only done that when the situation felt very mundane. So, I think I'll continue trying this out but will keep your suggestion in mind, thank you!

skyangel at 9:22AM, Jan. 27, 2024

It's great to see this comic getting some attention at last! I started reading it a few weeks ago and the artwork is really impressive as well as being extremely well written.

PaulEberhardt at 8:04AM, Jan. 27, 2024

I've seen swirly panel borders used to a great cool effect in a comic by Amelius before. It's a bit different here, as they're more ornamental. In both cases these creative panel borders do wonders for the atmosphere.

J_Scarbrough at 7:41PM, Jan. 26, 2024

I don't believe I've ever seen frame work like this in a comic before, but yeah, it actually does invoke something of a storybook aesthetic to it that's actually quite pleasing to look at.

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