Storytelling 101c

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

When it comes to composition of a comic page, Alex Toth is the guy I admire most. When I look at some of his pages, I feel like he’s got ahold of my head and is directing my eyes exactly where he wants me to look. I’m not even sure what he’s doing a lot of the time but someday hopefully I’ll start to figure it out.

For single panel composition, Hank Ketcham is The Man. When I look at Dennis the Menace comics, I feel like my eyes want to travel all over then focus on what he wants me to see, then travel all around the panel again. The amazing thing is, he’s able to include everything he needs to for the gag to work into that one image.

So, those guys are at the pinnacle, in my opinion, of comic greatness. When I’m laying out my comic pages, those are some of the people I have in mind. They’re the very best.

The last panel on this page was really hard for me to work out. What I needed it to do was show Zip’s dejected reaction while also showing Li’l Bit getting in the driver’s seat of the kayak. My original rough sketch of this when I wrote it in my notebook showed the scene looking up from behind Zip.

Notebook sketch

I thought my first sketch would focus the attention on his slumped shoulders by putting him in the foreground, but the composition wasn’t great, it didn’t show what Li’l Bit was doing at all, and it repeated the same positioning of Zip from the fifth panel.

So, this page sat around for awhile until I figured it out. I’m really happy with the final result. It focuses the attention on Zip’s reaction while showing Li’l Bit’s actions, and has both characters facing the reader. Yay!