Writing a comic book - sketching and panels.

number of comic book panels and working with your artist


In sketching my comic, I thought I could cram loads of panels into each page. After all, I am paying per page, so I honestly thought that I could save some cash by having more on each page. That doesn't work. It makes for a horrible comic.

I looked at various panel layouts on Reddit and Google images for inspiration, but it wasn’t until I began sketching that I realised I couldn’t just squeeze in 16 panels on one page and hope it would be fine for the reader. It’s not fine. It’s crap. It looks rubbish, and I’d need to significantly reduce the font size for the dialogue or make an A3 comic book.

To find the best number of panels, it really depends on what’s happening in the story. However, I’d say anything up to 6 panels per comic book page is fine. I could have more. 9 panels might be fine in a non-action scene, but it would get crowded with dialogue and visually not very interesting. Also, I want the reader to be engaged and feel comfortable when reading.

The panel configuration is also interesting and important. Think of reading as a zig zag motion from the top of the page to the bottom. 4 equally sized panels would be easy to follow. 5 panels configured in a strange way might confuse the reader. But my artist will advise me accordingly if I’m way off the mark.

The other thing I now consider when I’m sketching is the size of each panel in relation to what’s happening in the story. The comic book panel size indicates how much you want to emphasize that particular part of the story. For example, a slow-paced non-action scene may have smaller panels. Conversely, a fight scene between multiple characters may be best displayed in a splash page across one or two pages. A splash page could also be half a page. In essence, I still have a ton of freedom to do whatever I want.

I also found that it is essential that I listen and seriously consider all of my artists points of view. He has the experience and will spot any flaws just like an editor would. I’m not precious about changing things if necessary and two heads are better than one.



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Steven Sweeney BSc(Hons), MSc

'The Brink' comic creator, author, Web developer and musician with 5 albums.