1950s Multi-Panel Pans

Listed in publication date order

(1950 none posted yet)


“Unterseeboot 113”, Page 1 panels 2-4 – from Frontline Combat No. 1, July-August 1951. Art by Wally Wood. (Script perhaps by Harvey Kurtzman)

July-August 1951 – From Frontline Combat No. 1, “Unterseeboot 113” art by Wally Wood. EC Comics Frontline Combat, likely under the influence of early comics polyptych master Harvey Kurtzman (see examples), includes several multi-pans – as well as a lot of panoramic sequences that might be called near-misses – sequences move across landscapes or interiors, with a consistent horizon, but things depicted are not split between panels. There are also many sound effects that span multiple panels. Wood’s artwork is consistently clear and crisp.



Four panel multi-pan from The Phantom Ship story in Out of the Shadows No. 6, October 1952, art by Alex Toth

October 1952 – From Out of the Shadows No. 6, The Phantom Ship (reprinted in Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-54, Fantagraphics, 2010) art by Alex Toth. This is strange panel depicting human vs. giant rat. I guess overall it’s ok for depicting the chaos of the scene but it’s not anywhere near Toth’s finest work, and I like Toth’s stuff a lot. Given that it’s Alex Toth’s only polyptych in this nearly 400-page collection… I think it’s some kind of a fluke perhaps introduced by the inker (listed as John Celardo) or someone? Maybe Toth drew it as one panel, then someone else split it up? The SWISH sound effect kind of pulls it together… but I can’t quite tell what’s making the swish sound… because the rats are squeaking. Does a swinging machine gun hitting a rat make a swish sound? Usually in a good multi-pan each panel can kinda stand on its own… but panels two and four are pretty visually indecipherable on their own.

(1953 none posted yet)


Two-panel pan sequence from Sub-Mariner No. 103, page 7, art by Bill Everett

November 1954 – From Marvel Comics Sub-Mariner, volume 1, No. 36 (image scan is from reprint in Marvel Feature No. 2, March 1972) story entitled The Hidden World. As far as I’ve found, this is the earliest comic book version of the multi-panel pan. There are much earlier comic strip versions. It’s arguably not quite a fully-developed multi-panel pan (who is to say that the space in the background is or isn’t contiguous?), but more of an action leaping from one panel into another (like the Batman panels below.)


Three-panel pan sequence from Valor No. 4, September 1955, art by Bernie Krigstein

September 1955 – From EC’s Valor, No. 4, story The Know-Nothing by Bernie Krigstein (scanned from the book B. Krigstein, Volume One 1919-1955, page 96, published by Fantagraphics Books, 2002.) Bernard Krigstein (1919-1990) was a fine artist, illustrator, and comic artist.  His comics were visually innovative, but use of various visual vocabularies were in the service of master story-telling. This was the only pan sequence I could find in the excellent book of his early published work. I expect that there are more out there.


Two-panel pan sequence from Batman No. 103, page 4, art by Dick Sprang

October 1956 – from DC’s Batman, Volume 1, No. 103 (image scan is from reprint in Batman Family No. 7, October 1976) story entitled The Broken Batman Trophies. I think of this is sort of an early version that’s maybe not quite a multi-panel pan. Batman’s jump extends from panel 2 into panel 3, but the backgrounds (and the perspectives from which they’re rendered) don’t quite match up.

(1957-1959 None found/posted)

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