Disrupting the Narrative in Your Comic, Challenges the Reader

By breaking up the flow of a comic, a creator can either push readers away—or draw them closer.
October 2, 2016, 11:30am
Alternate cover for Doom Patrol #1. Cover illustrated by Babs Tarr. Screencap via

This week’s mini-comic masterclass, Strip Panel Naked, focuses on the comic Doom Patrol by Gerard Way. Covered in a past weekly comic round-up, Doom Patrol is a reboot of a cult-classic series, and its first issue is wonderfully bizarre. Each week Strip Panel Naked breaks down certain specific aspects of comic storytelling, and in this episode the focus is all about narrative disruption.

“The new Doom Patrol book is very odd,” explains the host of the webisode, Hass Otsmane-Elhaou. “It's very apparent from just the opening page, which is four distinct visuals without any ties to each other. Then you turn the page and suddenly you're in a new narrative. Every few pages the story and location and characters shift to something new without explanation—and that's what we look at in this episode: how you can use quick changes to throw your audience off and stop them from getting comfortable.”

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Panel selection from Doom Patrol #1. Illustrated by Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain. Screencap via

But is this narrative disruption too intense? “A lot of information you need to make it work is there on the page,” says Otsmane-Elhaou. “You just have to unpack it a little more than you might normally expect from a DC Comics book. The disruption is all designed, though, so if you find it disruptive, that's [Creators of the comic] Gerard Way, Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain having done their job.”

Check out the video below:

To see more, visit the Strip Panel Naked YouTube page, and check out its Patreon page to support the series.


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