Tuesday, October 20, 2009

10 Panels That Always Work

One think that I remember going into the comics business was seeing photocopies of this sheet of paper floating around the Defiant offices... and wondering just how many years that thing had been photocopied and copied again...

Wally Wood was a masterful artist who ground himself down into the ground with comics and deadlines and hitting his head against the wall in an effort go gain some, hell, ANY recognition and financial renumeration for his work. And he'd pretty much fail, time and again. Read the biography, Wally's World and see the sad deterioration of a really great artist. Just seeing his classic EC work is one thing, but there are other pieces out there, a beautiful western painting that i don't necessarily have the link to, that show just how damn good he was.

Interesting, when you look at this sheet, just how many panels of comics that you've read and loved will pop into your head! There is a great deal of suggestion in this layouts themselves, tension and mystery hiding in some of the crops, sturdiness or reassurance in other framing devices that can really add (or detract as the case may be) to the story they are used in. It just goes to show that, like chords in pop music, these elements can be recombined over and over again in new and interesting ways to make endless variations.

I have never reached a panel and found myself pulling this sheet out and going, "Hmm, what is the next cool panel going to be?" but, having assimilated it, its like having a good amount of tools at your disposal, so that you can look at the thumbnails and see that action that needed to be contained in the panel and pick subtly different ways to emphasize the action or the mood. Having these panels down in one places is like knowing those chords by heart.

Thanks Woody.


Adam Black said...

You wouldn't happen to know what "ben day" means, would you?

I first saw these panels somewhere around 1993, and I've never figured out what that means.

Matthew Grant said...

Adam - "ben day" refers to "Ben-Day dots," I think, most accurately, in reference to the very pronounced dots you'd see in older four color process. Its a term also used in place of zip-a-tone and halftone, which might be closer to what Wally was suggesting. Hopefully I didn't butcher that explanation.

Charles - Great post. I've had this hanging on my wall for years, I almost took it for granted, but you've provided some interesting insight there.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

matt - thanks for chiming in here, you beat me to it. I would have said that Ben Day was a way of adding a grey tone that could be reproduced back in the day, as opposed to doing a wash that would ahve to be halftoned prior to printing.

glad that you liked the post. I think that there are tons of us who have had copies taped and push-pinned up above the drawing board!

Adam - what matthew said!

Tim Perkins said...

Hi Charles,
Every comic artist, or student of comic art should have this sheet.
I give a copy to every student that comes onto my Fantasy Art Unlimited course on their first induction session following their Free taster session.
We all know there are lots of other ways we can create different panels, but as an initial basic resource this Wally Wood special is an unbelievably invaluable wealth of information.
This is a good copy here, which you show too.

Booksteve said...

As you may know, Wally himself did NOT have this poster on his studio wall. In fact, it didn't exist as a poster until later on when former assistant Larry Hama got the pieces from fellow former assistant Paul Kirchner and pieced them together at Marvel.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

booksteve - Thanks for more info. I did know that Larry Hama was involved, but didn't know that Paul was involved at all with the production of that.