Crafting a 9 Panel Comic Strip: How to Make the Most of the Grid
- by Mz29U7Qp
How to Write a 9 Panel Comic Strip
A 9 panel comic strip can be a great way to tell a story in a short amount of time. The panels can also be arranged to convey specific emotions or actions.
Think of the nine-panel grid as the sonnet form or iambic pentameter of comics. It can provide structure and musicality to a narrative, as well as control the pace of the reading.
It’s a format
Generally, comic panels are divided into nine sections on the page. While other grid layouts exist, such as twelve- and sixteen-panel strips, the nine-panel format is a popular choice. It allows artists to fit more story into each page and is a good way to build tension.
In the comics, nine-panel grids can also be used to imply a sense of time passing, or to indicate that the characters are moving from one scene to another. The format is also used in graphic novels and can be a great tool for helping students learn the structure of stories.
It can be a difficult format to master, but it can be incredibly powerful when done well. For example, Watchmen’s nine-panel grid creates a rhythm that helps to convey the story’s progression. Although Gibbons and Moore pushed the nine-panel grid to its limits, it still provided them with a framework from which they could build their stories.
It’s a limitation
The nine-panel grid is a limitation for many comics writers. It restricts the amount of information that can be conveyed on a page, and limits the complexity of the story. It also makes it difficult to create panels that feature multiple characters. This is why some modern comics use different panel formats to accommodate more characters and scenes.
One experiment involved manipulating the layout of a page by introducing non-contiguous panels. Other experiments manipulated the order of panels by having some enclose others or have one panel “block” another (e.g., panel A encloses panel B). Participants were asked to navigate these pages and select their preferred reading order.
It’s interesting to note that the standard 6 x 9-inch live area for a printed comic book is based on this proportion. However, the standardized layout does not necessarily impose a harmonious proportion. This is because a margin must be added to the live area of a panel.
It’s a freedom
The panel format offers the cartoonist a great deal of freedom. It allows him or her to use comic timing without sacrificing narrative flow, and the panels are short enough that even non-visual readers can follow the action with ease. Moreover, the panel layout offers the cartoonist flexibility to create different visuals and themes for the strip.
This allows cartoonists to explore a range of ideas, including history and literature. For example, Hamlin’s Alley Oop jumped back and forth in time to meet historical characters like Cleopatra, King Arthur, Napoleon, Dickens’ Ebenezer Scrooge, and Robinson Crusoe.
It also allows them to show the characters’ personalities in a way that other formats don’t. For example, in “Sweet and Sour” (Little Orphan Annie), the panel layout lets the reader see how Nancy’s characterization reflects her personality. Moreover, the panel arrangement can help the cartoonist delve into a deeper narrative and create more meaningful characters. Adobe Express makes it easy to hone your creative potential with professionally designed templates and drag-and-drop tools that let you create, share, and print stunning graphics.
It’s a paradox
As a visual medium, comics are arranged in a grid of panels that form a path for the eye to follow. The most conventional ordering is the Z-path, which mimics the flow of words in English and is easiest to read. However, other orderings are possible, and these choices can affect the way a comic is read.
One of the defining characteristics of comics is that moving from one image to another usually also moves the story forward in time. However, this convention can be broken. For example, Jo Fischer’s gag-a-day strip From 9 to 5 often included a text box acknowledging fans and correspondents in a dividing margin.
Dave Gibbons’ use of a nine-panel grid in Watchmen shows how flexible the format can be. In fact, he compared it to iambic pentameter – a poetic structure that is flexible enough to adapt to different types of stories. This flexibility makes the grid useful for narratives that change pacing and tone.
How to Write a 9 Panel Comic Strip A 9 panel comic strip can be a great way to tell a story in a short amount of time. The panels can also be arranged to convey specific emotions or actions. Think of the nine-panel grid as the sonnet form or iambic pentameter of comics. It…
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