1930s Multi-Panel Pans
Listed in publication date order.
August 24 1930 – from Gasoline Alley Sunday newspaper comic, by Frank King (scan from book book Masters of American Comics, 2005, Yale University Press.)
Frank King (1883-1969) is one of the few artists I know of to do full-page mutli-panel pans. He’s arguably the early master of the multi-panel pan sequence, taking it from earlier incidental uses to building visual narrative that celebrate it – bringing it front and center. So far, he’s the only artist I’ve found to do full-page multi-panel pans with multiple rows (in the 70s-80s artists do full-page pans, but more multi-tall-panel splashes.) This beach sequence works so well as an overall page with setting, motion, narrative.
I am going to critique it… which feels presumptuous… because it’s such a phenomenal complete whole. King does “cheat” in a few ways, beautifully – he so pulls these off!
For example, see panels 5 and 6. In panel 5, the protagonist, Walt, is looking away from the woman he’ll collide with in panel 6. She’s running toward him; she’s split across the gutter between panels 5 and 6. Then in panel 6, she’s there twice – on the left gutter and in mid-panel. Following all strict rules of time and space, she’s moved backwards or the frame has shifted left… but it doesn’t matter, because it reads clearly and beautifully.
Similar “cheats” get Walt and Skeezix from the right hand column to the left. A full page multi-panel pan with multiple rows and absolutely no “cheats” would probably need to tell a story of something moving in a Z-shaped multi-zig-zag trajectory – the path that the eye follows across a page – which would probably be much more artificial than these “cheats.”
May 24 1931 – from Gasoline Alley Sunday newspaper comic, by Frank King (scan from book book Masters of American Comics, 2005, Yale University Press.)
Despite some poor racial stereotypes, Frank King pulls off a full-page multiple-row multi-panel pan sequence with no cheats . I think that the earlier beach scene (above) works much more as a sequential narrative. This is more of a snapshot of a place – as opposed to a story that moves through time.
King masterfully uses scenery to pull the eye through the page, with the Z-shaped path that left-to-right, top-to-bottom reading entails. Initially (panels 1-3) the path from the porch leads readers’ eyes to the roof. The boys gaze (panel 3) and the dogs running (panels 3, 4) lead the reader to make a sort of carraige return from the end of the first row to the beginning of the second. The diagonal white fence does this visual transition from panel 6 to panel 7. The opposing rust color fence completes the transition from panel 9 to panel 10. All of it is visually very effective for guiding the reader across the page.
(1932-1939 None posted yet.)