It’s time for another session in our favorite comic mini-masterclass, Strip Panel Naked. The web series, hosted by Hass Otsmane-Elhaou, takes a weekly deep dive into what makes a comic book tick, including the writing, artwork, color, spacing, subtext, and more. Last week, comic artist Declan Shalvey talked about the importance of real estate in a page of a comic, and really got into the power of a clever and economical use of space within the panels. This week, Shalvey’s back focusing all his attention on explaining a single page he created in his recent Marvel comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides.
In Civil War II: Choosing Sides, all the Marvel characters are at each other’s throats again, and Nick Fury is out to steal some secrets. When he encounters Black Widow, the two face off and slug it out in the dark while Fury waits for the documents he’s stealing to complete their download. In one pivotal page, the two crash against each other again and again, as a status bar slowly ticks toward 100 percent.
As the tension rises, the images zoom in further and further until it’s hard to see what’s going on. “It’s not about showing a very clear fight,” Shalvey explains in the video, “it’s about building tension. So I try to abstract it more until we get to that last panel.” Shalvey talks about the various decisions that went into perfecting this page, and through this conversation there’s plenty to be learned about proper and adventurous comic creation.
Watch the entire video, which includes Shalvey’s creative process, and his collaboration with famed color artist Jordie Bellaire, below: