1960s Multi-Panel Pans

Listed in publication date order.

1960-1965 none posted yet

1966

Four-panel pan sequence, from Daredevil, No. 21, October 1966, art by Gene Colan

October 1966 – From Marvel Comics Daredevil, No. 21 (scan from reprint in Giant-Size Marvel Triple Action No. 2) written by Stan Lee, drawn by Gene Colan. This is a sort of oddball panel. The upper word balloon crosses from panel 2 to panel 3. The Owl’s response, in lower panel 2, probably follows Daredevil’s statement in panel 3? The huge screw-machine-thing in the foreground looks like it was drawn by someone who didn’t draw the other machines (and looks different than the same screw-apparatus the page before.) The issue credits list three inkers: “Fearless Frank [Giacoia], Darlin’ Dick [Ayers], Wild Bill [Everett]” … and the way I’ve read that a lot of Stan Lee writing worked was that other folks drew stuff and he came in later and added the words and captions… so I somehow think that this one was hastily assembled, and perhaps Gene Colan drew a single panel and somewhere along the way, someone split it into three.

1967

Two-panel pan sequence beginning story in witzend No.2, written and drawn by Art Spiegelman, 1967

1967 – From Wally Wood’s witzend, No. 2 – story ‘A Flash of Insight, a Cloud of Dust and a Hearty Hi-Yo Silver’ by Art Spiegelman (scan from book Breakdowns: Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@~*!, afterword.) Spiegelman is among the most self-conscious deliberate comics creators employing of all sorts of wonderful comics visual vocabulary. His 1967 ‘A Flash of Insight…” is a three-page stream-of-consciousness story that contains at least five polyptichs.

Four-panel pan sequence, from Strange Tales, No. 155, April 1967, art by Jim Steranko

April 1967 – From Marvel Comics Strange Tales, No. 155 – Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. story Death Trap! (scan from Nick Fury trade paperback), art and writing by Jim Steranko. Steranko is a stand-out late 1960s comic artist who builds on Jack Kirby’s style and takes it to new stylish and innovative level that still looks great today. I think that Jim Steranko’s style influenced Paul Gulacy, whose early work looks somewhat similar. This fairly early four-panel sequence is fairly conventional; it’s a bit staid compared to Steranko’s dynamic style.

Three-panel pan sequence, from X-Men, No. 37, August 1967, art by Ross Andru

October 1967 – From Marvel Comics X-Men, No. 37 – written by Roy Thomas, drawn by Ross Andru. Somehow this one doesn’t seem entirely deliberate… I’m not sure why, but I think it looks like it may have been drawn as one long panel, then someone later chopped it into three. The colorist also seems to have not noticed that it was a multi-pan. Hank’s back in panel 1 should be the same brown as his suit in panel 2. The background in panel 2 is colored differently than the others. Still a very early Marvel multi-pan.

Six-panel pan sequence, from Strange Tales No. 162, November 1967, art by Jim Steranko

November 1967 – From Marvel Comics Strange Tales, No. 162 – Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. story So Evil, The Night! (scan from Nick Fury trade paperback), art and writing by Jim Steranko. Under Steranko, Nick Fury becomes a more-or-less James Bond agent, complete with spy gadgetry including this high-tech clear fiberglass Ferrari. This panel reads nicely, peeling across the top, then hooking downward on the right end.

1968

Five-panel pan sequence from Strange Adventures, No. 209, page 5, art by Neal Adams

February 1968 – Two examples from Strange Adventures, No. 209, Deadman story “How many times can a guy die? Part 3” (scan from July 1985 reprint: Deadman No. 3) – written by Jack Miller, drawn by Neal Adams.

Neal Adams is a master of dramatic, dynamic, mannerist sequential illustration. This full page pan works very well.

It reads in a more or less Z-shaped trajectory. Initially the plank board path (and the direction that Eagle [in blue shirt] is walking) draws the reader’s eye horizontally across the top. Then the diagonal gutter and Deadman’s descent draw the eye diagonally left and down. Then Pete’s walk, the tent ropes, and the shaft of light from the tent – all draw the reader diagonally down to the bottom right corner.

Four-panel pan sequence from Strange Adventures, No. 209, page 7, art by Neal Adams

I hate to be too critical of Adams’ visuals, which are among the best in superhero comics, but this sequence, a page later in the same story, is a bit less successful. I think it’s dramatic, dynamic – lots of energy… but rolling upward seems a little unconvincing. Movement upward on the comic book page is slightly awkward – because it sort of strands the eye in an upper corner of the page. Even with the diagonal gutter from the upper right to lower left, my eye wants to jump from panel 4 to panel 6.

Three-panel pan sequence from The Spectre, No. 5, page 16, August 1968, written and drawn by Neal Adams

August 1968 – from DC’s The Spectre, No. 5, August-September 1968 – written and drawn by Neal Adams.  This is the earliest all Neal Adams pan I’ve found, where Adams is both writer and artist. Though he’s one of the greatest comic artists, ever, and among my my top ten favorite ever… he’s best when he’s collaborating with a writer. He’s still drawing beautifully and writing disconnectedly today (hilarious link thanks to Scott McCloud.)

1969

Six-panel pan sequence from Hulk, No. 111, page 30, January 1969, art by Herb Trimpe

January 1969 from Marvel Comics’ Incredible Hulk No. 111, January 1969 (scanned from reprint in Marvel Super-Heroes No. 65, July 1977) written by Stan Lee, drawn by Herb Trimpe. I was a little surprised to find this one, because I don’t think of Trimpe as much of a visual innovator. Trimpe’s competent, if a little blocky, and was very much the definitive hulk artist of my youth. He does the multi-pan fairly frequently – I found them in Hulk issues 111, 122 (below), 143, 144 and 147. This spaceship panel sequence seems pretty gratuitous, though – seems like it would work fine as a single panel.

Four-panel pan sequence from Captain America, No. 110, page 9, February 1969, art by Jim Steranko

February 1969 – from Captain America No. 110, written by Stan Lee, drawn by Jim Steranko (scan from Marvel Visionaries: Steranko trade paperback, 2002.) A quiet Steranko pan.

Four-panel pan sequence from Captain America, No. 111, page 7, March 1969, art by Jim Steranko

March 1969 – from Captain America No. 111 written by Stan Lee, drawn by Jim Steranko (scan from Marvel Visionaries: Steranko trade paperback, 2002.) . More crisp multi-panel action from Steranko. I like this one visually, though it seems like the first three panels are much closer together in time than they are to the fourth… still looks great, though.

Four-panel pan sequence, from X-Men, No. 57, page 12, June 1969, art by Neal Adams

June 1969 – from Marvel Comics’ X-Men, No. 57, art by Neal Adams, writing by Roy Thomas. Neal Adams is a master comic book artist, in many ways before his time. He breathed life into a lot of tired series.

His multi-panel pans tend to be vertical, and tend to be fully embeded in dynamic pages. This page where the Beast is falling is a great example. Very few artists can pull off reading a page from the lower left to the upper right (I can’t think of another example.) This one reads like a capital letter N. The Beast gets closer and closer to the reader until we can read fear in his eyes.

Three-panel pan sequence, from X-Men, No. 58, page 8, July 1969, art by Neal Adams

July 1969 – from Marvel Comics’ X-Men, No.58 – art by Neal Adams, writing by Roy Thomas.

It’s another great Neal Adams vertical pan, with lots of motion, dynamism, and energy spilling out of the confinement of the panel. I think it’s quite an accomplishment that Adams has skillfully shown us the Angel rising – going up – while moving down the page. I like the way the Angel’s wings flap up and down in alternate panels – and how he gets closer and closer to the reader (almost flying through the third panel – off the page.) Though the background is continuous, each panel depicts the Angel in a sort of cropped snapshot, with no overlap into adjacent panels – see especially the third panel, where the wings cut off. In my terminology, it’s a strict non-cheat – no multiple exposures in any panel.

Seven panel pan sequence from Hulk No. 122, page 17, December 1969, art by Herb Trimpe

December 1969 – from Marvel Comics’ Incredible Hulk, No. 122 (scan from reprint in Marvel Super-Heroes No. 74 September 1978), written by Roy Thomas, drawn by Herb Trimpe. This familiar transformation trope where Bruce Banner becomes the Hulk has been done thousands of times… but it’s nearly always a sequence showing the face. This is the only multi-panel pan transformation sequence I’ve seen. It works fairly well. I like that Trimpe overlaps it with the panels below… perhaps skipping the familiar white gutter when actions become more frantic.

>Older 1950s  >Return to Index  >Newer 1970s

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6 Responses to “1960s Multi-Panel Pans”

  1. Took Zoxor Says:

    “perhaps Gene Colan drew a single panel and somewhere along the way, someone split it into three.” fascinating/intriguing observation. anywayz, gene colan dizzying almost by trademark. i love his work, btw. my bro stefano gaudiano http://www.manwithoutfear.com/daredevil-interviews/Stefano-Gaudiano had honor and challenge of colring colan for a special issue (dd100 vol 2) when colan refused to have his pencils inked.

  2. Took Zoxor Says:

    “I hate to be too critical of Adams’ visuals, which are among the best in superhero comics, but this sequence, a page later in the same story, is a bit less successful. I think it’s dramatic, dynamic – lots of energy… but rolling upward seems a little unconvincing. Movement upward on the comic book page is slightly awkward – because it sort of strands the eye in an upper corner of the page. Even with the diagonal gutter from the upper right to lower left, my eye wants to jump from panel 4 to panel 6”
    i second that motion.
    then again, i seem to second all your motions. haha

    • K Plan Says:

      I mention this in a reply below but thought you’d want to know: Adams has admitted in interviews that, yes, he laid out that page the wrong way.

      I remember as a teen a comics store manager I’d become friendly with showed me that page, and I even said then “He’s going the wrong way.” The guy thought I was nuts for criticizing Adams.

  3. K Plan Says:

    Fun post!

    BTW, these kinds of panels are called polyptychs (that’s the plural).

    Also, while the DD image may indeed have been split up by the art corrections team at the request of an editor, the X-Men image is almost certainly purposeful. There is a particular action happening as a whole, but each section tells its own piece of the story and, together, which take the readers eye in certain places at a particular pace.

    To me, Both Neal Adams pages are awkward. Adams himself admitted he laid out the X-Men 57 page the wrong way. It’s one of his most famous pages from that run and apparently the one he regrets most.

    The Angel one is just awkward thanks to the jerky “movement” of Angel and the stiffness of his body language while purportedly flying. And the lackluster BG doesn’t help show movement.

    The Deadman page is the strongest imo. What’s happening there is portrayed dynamically while taking the eye naturally from one place to the other AND the angles are interesting and engaging. Plus, the movements of Deadman are very fluid (unlike Angel). I bought the hardcover slipcase of that run. Just incredible stuff!

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