1990s Multi-Panel Pans

Listed in publication date order



Non-pan panel illustrating time across a single panel, Understanding Comics, page 95, written and drawn by Scott McCloud

Same action as the above single panel, this time as a five-panel pan sequence - from Understanding Comics, page 97, written and drawn by Scott McCloud

1993 – from Tundra’s Understanding Comics written and drawn by Scott McCloud. Scott McCloud’s treatises on comics are great. They’re pretty much required reading for anyone interested in exploring what the tricks are that make comics work.

Four-panel pan sequence from Understanding Comics, page 115, written and drawn by Scott McCloud

McCloud uses the word “polyptych” to describe what I’ve been calling a multi-panel pan sequence… and I am going to explore these terminologies in a blog post at some point soon.

Three-panel pan sequence from 1963, Book One: Mystery Incorporated, page 20, story by Alan Moore, art by Rick Veitch and Dave GIbbons

April 1993 – From Image Comics 1963 Book One Mystery Incorporated -story by Alan Moore, art by Rick Veitch and Dave Gibbons. Alan Moore is the reigning comic book writing genius who has pushed all sorts of boundaries, and who uses frequent appropriate multi-panel pans and all kinds of other great visual tricks. This is one of the most ingenious and self-conscious uses of a multi-panel pan sequence. The comic book is a homage/parody of early 1960s Marvel Comics, this one specifically features Mystery Incorporated who are a thinly veiled version of the Fantastic Four. These panels depict a visitor who is actually a 1990s comic book character who has time-traveled back to 1963. Using a multi-panel pan sequence is Moore’s very subtle way of tipping the readers off to the fact that this is a contemporary character… because pan sequences are common in the 1990s, but didn’t occur in early 1960s Marvel Comics. (See also other articles I’ve written here about Alan Moore.)

(1994-1998 none posted yet)

Three-panel pan sequence, from 'Goodbye, Chunky Rice', page 24, 1999, art by Craig Thompson

1999 – from Top Shelf’s Goodbye, Chunky Rice written and drawn by Craig Thompson. Thompson is an award-winning wonderfully inventive artist. He uses lots of clever multi-panel pans in GCR. I’ve chosen just a few of the ones I live best. The above panel sequence has a great visual balance, with the lower half of Solomon’s face (left) and the upper half of Chunky’s (right.) One thing cool and playful is the way the gutter (black) line splits the word balloon between “Cute ain’t he?” and “Go ahead. He ain’t bitin'”

Multi-panel sequence with pans, from 'Goodbye, Chunky Rice', 1999, art by Craig Thompson

This a great little throwaway scene-setting sequence… that I think is just rich and lush and fun. Almost don’t know where to start. The multi-panel pans are in the top left and lower right. Each of the short sequences introduces the characters, and the whole rich mix introduces the neighborhood – so active and full of life.

Three-panel pan sequence, from 'Goodbye, Chunky Rice', 1999, art by Craig Thompson

This panel sequence is fun because it centers on sound; each panel with its own sound effect. The action also sweeps upward (with hopeful celebratory sentiment) then downward (with the reality of mushy food shlopped onto the plate unceremoniously.)

Two multi-panel pan sequences, from 'Goodbye, Chunky Rice', 1999, art by Craig Thompson

The upper sequence is fairly straightforward – good, but not spectacular. The lower panel sequence here is brilliant. Though the gutters throughout the book are black lines, the middle white panel acts a sort of gutter between the two panels on either side of it. The fearful anticipation of the wallop is palpable… and the motion of the throw powerful and dynamic. It’s sort of a multi-panel pan, with an intermission embedded in the sequence.

CoveCover with three-panel pan sequence, Promethea, No. 3, October 1999, art by J.H. Williams III

October 1999 – From America’s Best Comics’ Promethea No. 3 – art by J.H. Williams III, writing by Alan Moore. I am not going to try to an encyclopedic look at all of Alan Moore’s multi-panel pans.

Promethea No. 3 is the only comic book cover image (I am aware of) that utilizes a multi-panel pan. Most of the time covers (like splash pages) show a single full-page image, hence few feature any kind of multi-panel sequence, much less a sequence with a continuous background. Promethea is ultimately about story-telling and imagination, so it makes sense that the cover could be a multi-panel pan.

The cover image is, as pretty much every panel Williams draws, beautiful. Promethea is transitioning between the real world on the left and Mysty Magic Land (more properly “Immateria” – more-or-less the world of humanity’s collective imagination) on the right. A lesser artist might have given us a 100% real panel on the left and a 100% immateria on the right… but even panel one shows the floor giving way to burst of river waterfall… which is symbolic of the unconscious. That could be reading too much into Moore, you never know – he’s so deliberate about symbols and references…

Six-panel pan sequence, from Promethea No. 3, page 20-21, October 1999, art by J.H. Williams III

The above sequence is a similar transition from Immateria on the left and the reality on the right. There are quite a few subtle touches that I credit to Alan Moore. The “No Parking” sign (panel 3-4) sort of shows the point of no return – there’s no stopping in the middle between these two realms. The panhandler is asking for “change” while the scenery is changing. The trees of Immateria give way to the steel columns and lampposts of urban reality.

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One Response to “1990s Multi-Panel Pans”

  1. Took Zoxor Says:

    “realms. The panhandler is asking for [‘]change[‘] while the scenery is changing. The trees of Immateria give way to t”
    (joe linton, https://theperiodicfable.wordpress.com/comics-index-of-multi-panel-pans-by-decade/1990s-multi-panel-pans/)

    he steel

    copyryt this, bitchs

    soon positn on tyra banks’ official youtube channel
    probably under T TYRA T comment replies

    after all, i promised her i’d show her gulacy mokf, long ago, back in modelland 3

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