Page Layout 101: Point of Interest

On the surface, the basic language of comics may not be obvious to most readers. Granted, if you are unaware of a well-made comic’s methods, it is doing its job correctly. However, another way to enjoy and appreciate comics is to look at their basic components and understand how they function in order to create a memorable reading experience.


For this article, we will be looking at how a comic uses a point of interest in order to make the act of reading a page feel good. We will be using an example from two different comic series. In our first example, we will look at a  page from the manga series Black Clover (2015).

Black Clover #156, Pg. 7

In this page, we see one character is holding a sword in the air over the head of another character. On one hand, this page is understandable because the illustrations are clear and follow a logical progression from panel to panel. On the other hand, this page is even better because of how the sword is used as the point of interest for the page. While we are able to see two other characters in the middle panel, the sword is the most pronounced thing on the page. Not only does it take up the most space compared to everything else, but the comic’s onomatopoeias have the most focus around the sword becoming bathed in light from panel two to panel three, and form a satisfying s-shape, making the page flow almost seamless.

 

In our second example, we will look at the final page from Issue #3 of Watchmen (1986).

Watchmen #3, Pg. 28

This page is also a good example of using a point of interest to create a satisfying comic page even though it is an antithesis to our previous example. Not only does this page contain no onomatopoeia, its paneling is considerably more conservative, and the point of interest takes up significantly less space. However, Watchmen uses this to its advantage. In this page, the point of interest is the character on panel four. In other cases, the point of interest taking up so little page space might obscure them to the point where the comic would be less enjoyable to read. However, because the character on panel four is juxtaposed by a wide and empty landscape, a simple, yet engaging composition is constructed, and our eyes are drawn to the point of interest just as they were drawn to the pronounced sword from our previous example.

 

While the language of comic page construction goes deeper than a simple point of interest, having a greater understanding of what makes the point of interest so integral to comic pages enriches our relationship to the work and gives us a greater understanding of the comic medium.

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