It's not just the figure and action illustration of a comic that goes into crafting its overall look, there are other important visual forces at work, too. Whether talking the color palette of a comic or proper panel blocking, the art of a good comic goes way beyond illustrating a normal-looking hand. In this week's Strip Panel Naked, the weekly mini-comics masterclass dedicated to dissecting the art and craftsmanship of comics, host Hass Otsmane-Elhaou focuses on a single page of the comic Extremity by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer. The comic, which describes itself as "the beauty and imagination of Studio Ghibli meets the intensity of Mad Max," focuses on fighting clans in a future filled with monsters and technology.
For the page in question, the reader's presented with two characters about to break out into a fight. But the creators keep the reader at arm's length, "You're never actually part of that moment," explains Otsmane-Elhaou in the video. "You're very clearly a sort of spectator… you're not really the one fighting, you're just watching from the side. There seems to be a very specific feeling here of being removed from the action."
To hammer home the emotional distance between these two main characters [seen in the photo above], the comic creators keep them separated on the page itself. "In the opening row, they share that same row," Otsmane-Elhaou explains, "but they're placed at very extremes of the page, right across from each other, left and right. That distance is really, really noticeable… the big empty panels, the lack of a background, it means there's nothing else to see here but those two men, so you have to pull your eye across the whole width of the page to find the next thing to look at."
Want to see how color plays a part in the narrative? Learn that and more by watching the full video below:
To see more, visit the Strip Panel Naked YouTube page, check out its Patreon page to support the series, and pre-order Hass Otsmane-Elhaou's first volume of PanelxPanel, an in-depth online magazine of comic theory, criticism, and celebration.