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A Comic Artist Talks Narrative Framing Around a Single Page

A comic industry pro talks voyeurism, framing a page, and color composition.

The first page of Romulus by Bryan Hill and Nelson Blake II. On Shelves now from Image Comics. Screencap via

For budding comic creators hoping to get insight and information about breaking into the business, there’s no better resource than going to the source and talking to people working in the trenches. That’s why whenever the webseries Strip Panel Naked features a series of “Creator Edition” episodes it’s always worth a careful look. This week the series creator Hass Otsmane-Elhaou speaks with artist Nelson Blake II about his Image Comics book Romulus, which he created with writer Bryan Hill. The book just came out in the beginning of October, 2016, and it follows a woman named Ashlar—who was trained, and betrayed, by a secret ancient order. In this week’s episode, Hass and Nelson Blake II talk panel composition, framing, and coloring comics.


In a deep dive into the first page of Romulus, Blake talks about why he kept the images so rooted in symbol. He explains that there are big action scenes where the viewer sees everything from a dramatic angle, but that there are also “voyeuristic” moments in comics, where the viewer only sees slices of information. “I try to always have the dynamic range,” says Blake. “If something is about an intellectual or emotional symbol, it’s probably going to be more voyeuristic. But if something is about impact that has an automatic meaning than I might push it to land that.” When asked why he keeps the images on the first page so simple, he expounds, saying “That was all of the relevant information. I feel like everything you put into a comic means something, it’s a blank page. We literally start the story with her being born.”

The color on the comic is bold and brash, too. And Blake did all his own color work for the book. “After coloring the first few issues,” says Blake, “now I gained the ability to see color before I start. Before doing this, I had only colored individual pieces and a few covers. I had never colored interior pages, and I do think the work of coloring interior pages is totally different than illustration color.”

For even more detail and wisdom from Nelson Blake II, dig into this "Creator Edition” of Strip Panel Naked 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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