What's the best way to introduce a comic featuring the most iconic hero of all time? That's not an easy question, but writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely answer it with boldness and gusto in their reintroduction to Superman in "All Star Superman #1." Within three pages, the duo tell you everything you need to know about the "Man of Steel" without wasting time or hanging onto cliché. But how did they do it? In this week's mini-comics masterclass, Strip Panel Naked, host Hass Otsmane-Elhaou breaks down the comic's opening in his video essay Perfecting an Opening.
"I've wanted to talk about this book for a while," Otsmane-Elhaou explains in the video, "primarily because of its opening few pages, which are genuinely stunning in their approach to laying out the landscape of this iteration of Superman, and in getting us as readers so quickly caught up to speed on what we need to know, and how we're supposed to take it."
On the very first page, before we see Superman, Morrison writes a slim, efficient introduction to the core elements that make up our hero, and his writing's paired with Frank Quitely's perfectly centered artwork. It doesn't challenge the reader, practically holding their hand through this first moment. And then… the page turns. "I've said it before… the page turn is one of the most important things you've got in your arsenal when telling stories in comics."
And when readers turn the page, they're treated to a full, two-page splash featuring Superman flying past the sun with a smile on his face. "It's just Superman. That's a very brave thing for a big double splash, but the effect is immediate […] It's not watered down by anything else. And you've gone from four stacked panels, four images on one page, to one image across two pages."
To learn more about how the colors, blocking, and measured storytelling all add up to a perfect comic introduction, watch the full video below:
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