1940s Multi-Panel Pans
Listed in publication date order.
(1940 None posted yet.)
December 21, 1941 – from newspaper Sunday page Krazy Kat by George Herriman (scan from book Masters of American Comics, 2005, Yale University Press.) George Herriman’s (1880-1944) layouts (storytelling, themes, language, colors, etc.) are wildly inventive. I am impressed with the symmetry and the use of a circular-shaped panel – not an easy thing to weave into the rectangular grid of the comic page.
(1942-1945 None posted yet.)
July 14th, 1946 – From the Spirit, No. 320 – by Will Eisner (scan from The Best of the Spirit trade paperback, 2005.
Will Eisner (1917-2005) was one of the great early writer-artist creators for comic books. He pioneered all sorts of comic book visual language, especially during his prolific stint producing weekly Spirit comic books through the 1940s and early 50s. These multi-panel pan panels were the only pan sequence I found in this “Best of” collection… but they alone don’t do justice to Eisner’s inventiveness.
(1947 None posted yet.)
August 1948 – From Tessie the Typist, No. 17, Hey Look! strip by Harvey Kurtzman (scan from reprint in Harvey Kurtzman’s Hey Look!, published by Kitchen Sink Press, 1992.) Kurtzman does all kinds of great panel play – characters reach from one panel into another… and he has quite a few polyptychs, many of them very clever.
August 1948 – From Hedy Divine, No. 28, Hey Look! strip by Harvey Kurtzman (scan from reprint in Harvey Kurtzman’s Hey Look!, published by Kitchen Sink Press, 1992.) Kurtzman pulls off a full-page multi-pan with no cheats. I think he and Frank King are the only folks who’ve really pulled this off. (I’m not counting single-row full-page stuff like the splash page of 1976 Iron Fist No. 6 or the 1999 cover of Promethea No. 3.) It’s basically a Z-shaped road… which makes sense because overall the eye follows a Z-shaped trajectory across the page. Kurtzman has done lots of fun clever stuff on this page. I dig his using little symbols that one finds in kids’ atlases, for example: the crossed pick and shovel in both panel 4 and 5. I also like the loop-the-loop road in panel 6… and the word balloons making their way up then down the central hills.
July 1949 – From Timely Comics’ Rusty, No. 21, July 1949, by Harvey Kurtzman. I found this sequence on page 97 of The Comics Journal Library, Volume 7, Harvey Kurtzman. Kurtzman goes on to do all kinds of wonderful inventive stuff from Mad magazine to Hey Look! This isn’t all that inventive… in fact, I need to confirm it, but I think that the continuous stairway across two panels is a common trope, maybe in comic strips like Blondie (?) – I am keeping an eye out for it. (One tiny note, and I didn’t notice this until I scanned the panel: Kurtzman’s stairs background doesn’t quite match up – the panel on the right is just barely lower than the one on the left. Not sure why, or if it matters in any way.)