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Playing with Time

Banes at 12:00AM, Feb. 2, 2017

Time doesn't really exist in comics. Someone can blast through multiple pages in seconds, or linger on one panel for years. Well, that would be rare. But you see what I'm saying.

What if you want to make your readers slow down? To give your pages the pace you want?

No Talkie

We may have discussed this around the ‘site recently, but the first and simplest way to do it is to eliminate the dialogue on a panel or page. This forces the reader to, well, not read. They have to look at the pictures to absorb what’s going on. This often slows things down.

Well, not necessarily; a wordless page of action packed panels might feel fairly fast paced. But it will still create more immersion in what's going on.

More Detail

This is the same idea. If a picture has more detail, it can cause the eye to wander around the page, absorbing everything in the panel, especially if the effort is bolstered by a lack of dialogue.

Aspect to Aspect

This type of panel transition is covered in Scout Mcloud's Understanding Comics/Making Comics books. Several panels, showing different aspects of the scene, can slow things right down as well as pulling readers into the environment. Imagine a scene inside a restaurant…(no, I'm not gonna draw it! Who has that kinda time??)

Panel One: A couple at a table, laughing
Panel Two: Two wine glasses clink together
Panel Three: Closeup of a knife slicing into a steak
Panel Four: A waiter walks along, tray in hand
Panel Five: …

…Etcetera. Moving aspect to aspect can slow things down, even with smaller panels.


A borderless panel that has no “frame”, with the image going to the edge of the page (literal or web page), can again force the reader to slow down and take it all in, whereas framed panels will tend to be taken in more quickly.

These are the techniques that come to mind to slow down time in a comic. They can be used in combination, especially with the no dialogue (or minimal dialogue) thing. Too much dialogue might keep the focus on the words and make it less likely the reader will slow down.

Or that's my theory at least.

Have you used techniques like this to slow things down or create a deeper connection to what's going on in your comic? Are there other techniques you think would work?

See you next time!

take 'er slow!




bravo1102 at 8:35PM, Feb. 2, 2017

Put all your newsposts together you'll have a semester's worth. ;-D

usedbooks at 1:39PM, Feb. 2, 2017

I've done wordless pages, splash pages, and short-on-words pages. I kinda had some inkling about pacing but never had words for it. I usually do it to add weight to the few words used or to set an atmosphere.

Banes at 12:29PM, Feb. 2, 2017

@zaptoid - it's possible, but I'm not much of an artist; the feel and pacing created applies to the average reader if its done right...that's my thinking anyway. The book "framed ink" talks a lot about mood and emotion and how a panel or page feels, and I was feeling it from the pics in that book, despite my amateur level of skill. When it's done right it makes a reader feel the faster or slower pace. A more skilled artist will notice the level of craft, but it's more about pulling readers in and directing the experience, whether they know how it's done or not. Thanks zap!

Banes at 11:17AM, Feb. 2, 2017

@Paul - yeah, a panoramic scene might feel "open" if that's the effect someone's going for, but might not create the interest in the reader to take it all in. Thanks!

Banes at 11:15AM, Feb. 2, 2017

Thanks, you kindly souls! That's so nice if you to say! But after this one lecture I'd be tapped out! B-)

Zaptoid56 at 10:33AM, Feb. 2, 2017

But you're talking of an artist viewing someone's work. The casual reader(couldn't draw a wavy line) jogs from one caption to another not appreciating the work that went into it.

PaulEberhardt at 8:57AM, Feb. 2, 2017

I think so too. My rule of thumb usually is: if you want to slow down the pace, draw more. You can use more dialogue to slow down to some degree, but it has to stay interesting, and it's generally much easier achieved with a picture containing a lot of action both in the foreground and background. Just scenery doesn't always do the trick. Conversely, I find that focussing on the characters, e.g. with a close-up and no background is a great way of speeding up... Yep, and that's basically it. Awesome post, mate!

Udyr at 7:44AM, Feb. 2, 2017

Aaaah love comic theory, this is great stuff! Alot of dialogue can throw one off, I recently learned that, but its the matter of balance... (: Agree with Oz you should totes go as a comic teacher haha. :)

KimLuster at 5:01AM, Feb. 2, 2017

Agree with Oz - this is top-notch advice...!! I think I've sorta intuively done some of these things - it just felt 'right'! Now I know why!! Excellent!

ozoneocean at 2:17AM, Feb. 2, 2017

You could be a university lecturer giving lessons on this stuff man!

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