Why is there that white gutter between the dragon’s head and Iron Man? I don’t know. Gratuitous multi-pan from Iron Man No. 130, January 1980, art by Bob Layton, published by Marvel Comics
I wrote earlier about comic books’ mutli-panel pan sequences, which can also interchangeably be called super panels, polyptychs, multi-pans. I’ve been compiling this still-very-very-incomplete chronological index of super panels. For a really broad-brush review: These multi-pans arise early in comics history, are expored sporadically by some early comics masters, largely fall out of favor from the 1950s–1960s, then re-emerge with greater frequency in the late 1970s–1980s.
For this post, I want to explore some questionable multi-pans. These aren’t necessarily 100% wrong. Some of these are the work of masters, others are from comic artists whom I have less respect for. Right now I’m an artist who barely dabbles in comics, so I may not be all that qualified to critique these… but I’ll put my opinion out there nonetheless. Ultimately the decision on how to portray something in images and words is an artistic decision… it’s up to the creator… not the critic.
I am planning to do a series of three post explaining three different types of questionable multi-pans: (I’ll go in retroactively and update these with links.)
- gratuitous multi-pans
- motion-logic inconsistent multi-pans
In super-hero comics in the 1980s–1990s, multi-pans became fairly common. It wasn’t as if they were in every page… but lots of artists used them… often… whether they actually made sense or not. The multi-pans that I call gratuitous are ones where the gutters (white space between panels) could be removed and the panel would work just fine. (more…)