Weekly Visions 8.17.17: Dover and a Steady Hand

Hey Everyone! Welcome back!

We’re short and sweet this week, with a quick spotlight on this weekend’s Dover Con, and a new project from our friends at Riot Scene Pictures! Enjoy!

 

 

 

Upcoming LIVE Events

Dover Comic-Con Logo8/19 Dover Comic Con 10am-5pm / Booth 047 / @ Dover Public Library
1:30pm – Join CCO C. Edward Sellner’s My Comic Life Panel in the Children’s Programming Room!
Visionary returns to Dover Comic-Con for the third year mega event! Join Visionary’s CCO for his rousing panel on building a comics career, check out all our new releases and enjoy a day soaking in the pop-culture!

Dover remains one of our favorite shows. It’s one of several library sponsored and supported shows we do, meaning it benefits great programs and services from the Dover Public Library. It’s also part community festival and part comic-con. There is no cost for entry, and the programs, live events and vendors fill the Library, a couple other civic buildings, and the downtown Dover municipal square! Plus, food trucks galore!

If you’re anywhere near, come spend the day and bring the whole family!

 


Image result for riot scene pictures

Visionary has always been about shining a spotlight on new and upcoming talent and their dynamic projects! Well, this week we want to take you to the movies with a new film from a great new director and small indie studio based in Baltimore.

Riot Scene Pictures is the brainchild studio of director Taylor Young, who already has a few films under his belt. For his latest work, he is currently raising funds to enter the finished film in various Film Festivals and you can help out. Check it out!

“Who’s in control? The writer or his characters?”

This psychological drama stars Tray Chaney (HBO’s “The Wire” & Bounce TV’s “Saints + Sinners”), Taylor Young, Michelle Jones, Steve Malm, and Cameron Martino.”

When writer Morris Kennedy (Taylor Young) isolates himself to write a screenplay commissioned by famous rapper T. Pryor (Tray Chaney), he gradually loses his sanity and finds himself face to face with his characters. He struggles to solve the mystery while his characters, sharing the faces of his loved ones (Michelle Jones, Steve Malm, Cameron Martino), compel his attention.

Steady Hand was written and directed by Taylor Young and shot in Baltimore, MD. Riot Scene Pictures aims to produce original, entertaining, and thought-provoking motion picture content of all genres. The group of friends behind Riot Scene Pictures has been working together for over a decade and are excited to share their latest project, Steady Hand, with film festivals both domestic and abroad.

Support the Kickstarter campaign NOW! >>


Just a friendly note, the next several weeks are very ‘show heavy’ with multiple events. So, we may or may not miss a week, we’ll try our best to at least check in, but if we don’t, don’t worry, we’ll be back by the next week!

Make sure you never miss a thing by Subscribing Now!

Weekly Visions 8.10.17: Convention Crush, Plays, and Teaching Oh My!

Welcome back for another weekly dose of Visionary Goodness!

This week we remind all of you of our annual August-September Convention run, this year, counting last week’s Washington County Con, we’re doing seven shows in eight weeks! Crazy stuff, but, it means lots of chances to catch up with the crew!

We also shine a spotlight on Inkwell Awards with their latest auction, and a new Get Creative spot. Enjoy!

Speaking of Washington County Library Comic-Con…
Thanks to Sarah Hull and all the hard working volunteers that made it such a great show! CCO C. Edward Sellner did another round of his My Comic Life panel, talking about the history, the art form, and skills for working in comics. Thanks to Artway Alliance’s Eric Suggs for dropping by and posting a brief video segment from the panel! Check it out below!

Speaking of Teaching Moments…
Visionary is proud to announce that our sponsored Creating Comics courses will be returning in Spring 2018! The courses will now be offered at the University of Maryland, College Park Campus, through the Art and Learning Center! Studio CCO C. Edward Sellner will be starting the partnership October 18th with a workshop offered during a special program, the full course will then debut the second week of February 2018, with eight two-hour sessions. More details will be coming soon, including links to register for the course. In the meantime, feel free to check out the Fall classes being offered now!

Image result for art and learning center college park stamp union


Visionary loves the arts, not just comics, but all forms of art! Which is why, every once in a while, we will spotlight something really cool we want folks to know about. It may be new releases in books or comics, or upcoming art focused events,  from our partners, friends, or supporters!

The Annapolis Summer Garden Theater is running a great new show called, In the Heights.

Here’s what the Bay Weekly had to say:
“The hottest thing in Annapolis these days isn’t the weather but Lin Manuel-Miranda’s In the Heights, playing through Memorial Day weekend at The Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre. Under the direction of Darnell Patrick Morris, the same guy who brought us Avenue Q and Hair Spray, this production is so outstanding it’s easy to see why the Hamilton composer’s show won the 2008 Tony for Best Musical. Here at the confluence of rap, salsa, and Latin pop, the American dream meets exotic choreography in New York City’s Dominican barrio to produce a story that transcends race, age and economic status.”

August 3-September 3, 2017 :: Thursday-Sunday at 8:30pm
Music & Lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda | Book by Quiara Alegria Hudes
Conceived by Lin-Manuel Miranda
Purchase Tickets Here>>

Check out this clip from the opening number!


The Inkwell Awards Fundraising Auctions Continue for our Second Week of our 10 Year Anniversary Season!

With 19 listing of original art, signed prints and special multi-signed prints from generous supporters of our non-profit, including Paris Cullins, Matthew Clark, Fred Hembeck, Matthew Dow Smith, Nikkol Jelenic, Kevin Conrad, Bill Anderson with Angel Medina, Joe St. Pierre, Charles Barnett II, Skott Kolin, Richard Case, Afua Richardson, Ryan Stegman, Michael Golden and more!

Support the Auction Here>>

 


Upcoming LIVE Events

Dover Comic-Con Logo8/19 Dover Comic Con 10am-5pm / Booth 047
@ Dover Public Library

1:30pm – Join CCO C. Edward Sellner’s My Comic Life Panel in the Children’s Programming Room!
Visionary returns to Dover Comic-Con for the third year mega event! Join Visionary’s CCO for his rousing panel on building a comics career, check out all our new releases and enjoy a day soaking in the pop-culture!

 

Southern Maryland Comic-Con Logo8/26 Southern Maryland Comic-Con 10am-4pm
@ Hollywood Fire Department

Visionary returns once more to one of our favorite local shows, the Southern Maryland Comic-Con in Hollywood! Join Visionary’s CCO C. Edward Sellner at the Visionary table all day and check out our latest releases, new prints, and other merchandise.

 

Image result for escape velocity 20179/1-3 Escape Velocity @ Gaylord Convention Center
12:15pm Sunday – Be Your Own Super-hero(ine) Panel  (Location TBD)

Visionary makes its triumphant debut at the Escape Velocity event with partner Artway Alliance! Join CCO C. Edward Sellner for his fun and exciting Be Your Own Super-Hero(ine) panel on Sunday, and check out Visionary’s latest at our booth all weekend.

 

Maryland Seafood Festival Logo9/10-11 Maryland Seafood Festival @ Sandy Point State Park

Visionary returns to the best tasting event of the year, the Maryland Seafood Festival for our third year running! In between enjoying the live music and tasting a variety of seafood treats, stop by Visionary’s tent to pick up some great reading material and art!

 

 

 

9/22-24 Baltimore Comic-Con @ Baltimore Convention Center
9/22-24 Baltimore Book Fest @ Baltimore Inner Harbor

This is a huge double-header event for Visionary, as we will be at the Baltimore Comic-Con, our own home show, at the Baltimore Convention Center AND at the amazing Baltimore Book Fest just a few blocks away at the Inner Harbor! Come join Visionary’s top crew, check out our new releases, new art prints, and other merchandise at either or both events all weekend!

 

 

2017 Confirmed Show Schedule

The following are confirmed shows for Visionary this coming year. More details coming as we get closer to each! Click the Event to go to their main page, or the location for map and directions.

10/21 Hampton Comic Con @ Hampton Roads Convention Center

10/23 Superhero Workshop @ Odenton Library

12/9 Ocean City Comic-Con @ Grand Hotel and Spa OC

 

Where will your vision take you?

Weekly Visions 8.3.17: Wanna Fight?

Welcome back to the Visionary Ring! As the bell sounds, the latest and greatest steps up to the bout, so check it all out!

ITEM! If you ever miss any of our updates as they go live, you can always check out our main site on our Blogs Feed to get the full stories! Comes complete with full listing, searchable database and tags. If you want to make sure you DON’T miss an update, well then, all you gotta do is SUBSCRIBE NOW!

 

This Weekend, Catch Us Live at…

8/5 Washington County Free Library Con @ Washington County Free Library
11am-4pm  :
: CCO C. Edward Sellner will be doing his My Comic Life Panel 11:30 am- 12:30 pm / Located in Conference Room #334

Join Visionary for the third year of Washington County Free Library Comic-Con! CCO C. Edward Sellner will be doing his My Comic Life panel, and we will have all our latest releases and merchandise on hand!

We’ve also added new details to several shows and included the rest of our confirmed 2017 shows scheduled on our Events Page!

 


 

Visionary_CollageITEM! We keep getting queries about our Deadlands titles and where to get them! Well, just a reminder, our novels are still available in finer bookstores everywhere as well as online sites like Amazon, Barnes & Nobel et. al. and our digital comics are directly available from us anytime! Check out our Complete Deadlands Checklist to fill any gaps in your collection!

 

 

 

 

 


Kickstarter Spotlight: Fight of the Century 

Fight of the Century is a 120-page biopunk, MMA, original graphic novel, now live on Kickstarter through August 11.

In a futuristic Brazil, performance-enhancing drugs have gone from behind-the-scenes banned substances to front-and-center game changers. The sports world as we know it has been revolutionized! Nowhere is that more on display than inside Neo-Rio, a mega-city that serves as the home to the Fighters Ultimate Exhibition League (FUEL). Men are becoming monsters in minutes as fighters are putting their lives on the line in the octagon.
FOTC is an action-packed drama that examines humanities desire to become bigger, faster and stronger; while exploring the price we’re willing to pay to reach our maximum potential. With influences from ROCKY to AKIRA to FRANKENSTEIN, it’s a comeback story about a man whose unlikely return will inspire a nation.

You can also follow their posts on Facebook!

 

Weekly Visions 7.27.17: And the Winner Is…

This week’s update has a pretty cool theme: Awards! Namely winners from Visionary’s circle of creators, nominees from our friends in the industry, a brand new one and a chance to support one of the long-standing ones and get cool art in the process!

Read on, and you might just feel like the real winner!

 

 

ITEM! First, a quick events update, we just added our October 2017 schedule to our Events Page including our return to Hampton Comic-Con and the first ever Ocean City Comic-Con! Check it out for details!

 

Awesome Con LogoITEM! While it may not be an award, it’s still a pretty nice spotlight – the folks over at Bleeding Cool did a nice feature article on Ben Penrod, founder of Awesome Con, and friend of the Visionary crew since forever! Awesome, of course, has grown exponentially in its main show in DC, but also sponsors some of our local shows we support, like Southern Maryland Comic-Con and Annapolis Comic-Con. Go read it now!

 

San Diego Comic-Con Report!

We had an utterly amazing time at the San Diego Con this past week, exhausting but lots of fun! We reconnected with old friends, make a lot of new friends, and met with several potential new partners and clients! It was a whirlwind week of excitement! If you didn’t see our special focus last week, including a list of some of the folks we ran into, and a spotlight on our featured art in the Souvenir book, you should check out last week’s update and catch up!

 

Related imageEisner Winners Announced

Of course, it’s not San Diego without the celebration of the comics’ industry own Oscars, the Eisner awards! An utterly amazing list of creators, publishers, and series got nominations, making for tough choices, but final winners were presented with their awards at a gala event! You can find the full list, including a lot of our personal favorites, right here!

 

 

ITEM! Speaking of SDCC and awards – One of our favorite authors, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, won a coveted Inkpot Award and was a Guest of Honor at the show! Jonathan wrote our first Deadlands novel, Ghostwalkers, and stopped by the Visionary booth during the show! It was a well-deserved win for an awesome writer and great guy!

 

Presenting the ‘Ringo Awards

Our proudly claimed home convention has always been the Baltimore Comic-Con, and they announced earlier this year a brand new award for the comic industry – the ‘Ringo Award. Named after the nickname for Mike Weiringo, an amazingly talented artist who passed away a few years ago, the new awards seek to celebrate the comic arts and the best of content and creators! The list of this inaugural year’s nominees has been released, and final voting is taking place now! Awards will be presented at the September Baltimore Con. Go VOTE for your favorites!

 

 

Inkwell Auctions Return!

Visionary has long been a supporter of the Inkwell Awards that celebrate ten years this year, and we’ve got news of their latest fundraising auction that includes signed prints and original art from amazing creators! Check it out!

Want to make sure you get all the latest news and announcements straight to your email? SUBSCRIBE!

 

Weekly Visions 7.20.17: SDCC Live Continues

Visionary had an amazing first day at San Diego Comic-Con! Thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth, including our own Production Chief Jacob Bascle, making his first face to face meeting with Ops Chief Mike Munshaw, and the first time seeing CCO C. Edward Sellner in person in over seven years! That’s what happens when you run a virtual business!

We’ve also had a great time reconnecting with a lot of our friends in the industry, including fine folks like Mark Wheatley, Jamal Igle, Mike Kingston, Mike Miller, and so many others!

We also met a lot of great new friends and fans who really make it all worthwhile!

To get live updates throughout the rest of the show, follow us on Facebook!

Or follow C. Edward Sellner and Michael Munshaw for even more exclusive updates!

Meanwhile…

We were thrilled to find out that Visionary had no less than three tribute art pieces in the 2017 SDCC Souvenir Book!

Mike Munshaw submitted a piece celebrating Wil Eisner’s The Spirit. Mike, Sophia Openshaw, and C. Edward Sellner did a studio jam piece of Thor, Hela and Odin, which was included in the Jack Kirby Centennial Tribute, and a Marvel Kirby tribute by Sellner also made the cut!

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Visionary is LIVE at SDCC! Booth M-10 Small Press Pavilion!

7/19-23 San Diego Comic Con @ San Diego Convention Center
Booth M-10 at the Small Press Pavilion
Wednesday 6pm-9pm / Thurs-Sat 9:30am-7pm / Sun 9:30am-5pm
SDCC Blog Announces Visionary’s Return!
Visionary makes it’s triumphant return to San Diego Comic-Con! Join Visionary’s Mike Munshaw, Sophia Openshaw and C. Edward Sellner for an epic week! Get Visionary’s latest comics, graphic novels, prints, and merchandise! Happening NOW!!

Weekly Visions 7.13.17: Spotlight News!

Welcome back to your weekly dose of all things Visionary!

This week we’re spotlighting exciting news from several of our studio clients, partners, and friends! Lots of cool stuff going on at every level of the comics’ world, and we wanted to make sure you knew about these particular gems.

Next week – We will be LIVE at San Diego Comic-Con! Join us for an update from the show floor!

 

Image result for gotham by gaslightGotham by Gaslight Gets Animated Feature!

The next direct-to-video DC Comics-based animated feature has been revealed to be an adaptation of the ’80s Elseworlds story Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (via ComicBook). The first-ever DC Comics Elseworlds story, Gotham by Gaslight was written by Visionary’s own Brian Augustyn and drawn by Hellboy mastermind Mike Mignola, with inks by P. Craig Russell. The story features a Victorian-era take on Batman that’s on the hunt for serial killer Jack the Ripper.

The synopsis for the comic book version of Batman: Gotham by Gaslight is the following: “In an age of mystery and superstition, how would the people of Gotham react to a weird creature of the night, a bat-garbed vigilante feared by the guilty and the innocent alike? The very first Elseworlds tale re-imagines the Dark Knight detective in Victorian times and pits him against the infamous murderer Jack the Ripper.”

 

 

 

A kidnapped Princess uses a dating app to find Knights to rescue her. Meanwhile, her captor discovers what true love means to her. By Ricky Lima and Nicolas "Lonku" LondiexKickstarter Spotlight: Happily Ever Aftr a Fairy TaLGBT

From the creative mind of Ricky Lima!

In this pseudo-modern twist on classic stories of knights in shining armor, Gretchen, the daughter of an evil king, kidnaps Princess Emily to be her bride. Now she must win the heart of her princess while dealing with her disapproving father. Meanwhile, Emily plots her escape using a hero/damsel hookup app on her phone. Soon enough there is an army of knights descending on the king’s castle, each eager for the chance to save a princess. Will any of the knights be able to free Emily from her pint-sized captor? Will the king learn to accept his daughter for who she is?

From the Creator:
“I hope that readers can enjoy the variety of relationships on display in the comic. I really wanted to spotlight all kinds of different love! The graphic novel is written to complete the whole Happily Ever Aftr story. It’ll be a self-contained book with a satisfying ending.”

Kickstarter ends July 31st. Check it out NOW!!

 

Image result for third-eye comicsThird-Eye Comics Blows Up!

Third-Eye Comics, owned and operated by the amazing Steve Anderson, is one of our favorite local retailers! They hosted Visionary at their annual FCBD event this past May, and this past weekend they moved into a spectacular new location at almost twice the size of their former shop! If you are local to Annapolis, you owe it to yourself to check them out!

 

Greenbelt Arts Center Debuts “King Kirby!”

Local comic fans and fine art aficionados are going to want to check out the original production, “King Kirby” being staged by the Off the Quill Theater Company from July 28th – August 12th. The play is about the trials and tribulations of Jack Kirby in the world of comic book art, celebrating his 100th birthday this year. A gallery showing featuring Kirby art will run concurrent with the play, showcasing the King’s contributions to the medium! Get More Details NOW!

 

Visionary’s CCO C. Edward Sellner Interviewed

Thanks to Josh Davidsberg of Your Money & Business on Maryland Public Television, Visionary’s own CCO got a chance to reflect on his career in comics! Check it out!

 

 

Weekly Visions Returns!

And we’re back! It’s been an insanely busy year for all of us over at Visionary, lots of changes inside and out, and we very much needed the time to regroup and refocus, so we appreciate everyone hanging in there!

Weekly Visions officially relaunches as of today, and we’ll have word of when our Sunday My Comic Life feature will return next week. Get Creative also returns today, but as an ongoing feature in Weekly Visions! Check out our first spotlight below!

 

Upcoming LIVE Events

Tis’ the season… CONVENTION SEASON! Once again, Visionary is all over the place, supporting local conventions, library shows, and other community events! Check out the shows coming up in the next month in full detail below, then scope out the rest of the year down a ways! Find your local scene and come check us out!

 

FredCon Logo Convention7/15 FREDCON @ Spotsylvania Town Center Mall :: 10am-7pm
Join Visionary’s Mike Munshaw for the second-year of FredCon! Mike will be doing commissions, as well as debuting new sketch cards and prints. Also find Visionary’s entire line of books, prints, and merchandise!

 

 

7/19-23 San Diego Comic Con @ San Diego Convention Center
Wednesday 6pm-9pm / Thurs-Sat 9:30am-7pm / Sun 9:30am-5pm
SDCC Blog Announces Visionary’s Return!
Visionary makes it’s triumphant return to San Diego Comic-Con! Join Visionary’s Mike Munshaw, Sophia Openshaw and C. Edward Sellner for an epic week! Get Visionary’s latest comics, graphic novels, prints, and merchandise!

 

 

8/5 Washington County Free Library Con @ Washington County Free Library
11am-4pm  :: CCO C. Edward Sellner will be doing his My Comic Life Panel!
Join Visionary for the third year of Washington County Free Library Comic-Con! CCO C. Edward Sellner will be doing his My Comic Life panel, and we will have all our latest releases and merchandise on hand!

 

 

 

 

 

Dover Comic-Con Logo8/19 Dover Comic Con @ Dover Public Library
10am-5pm  :: 1:30pm CCO C. Edward Sellner will be doing his My Comic Life Panel!
Visionary returns to Dover Comic-Con for the third year mega event! Join Visionary’s CCO for his rousing panel on building a comics career, check out all our new releases and enjoy a day soaking in the pop-culture!

 

 

 

 


 2017 Confirmed Show Schedule

DLGX10

Art by Steve Ellis

The following are confirmed shows for Visionary this coming year. More details coming as we get closer to each! Click the Event to go to their main page, or the location for map and directions.

8/26 Southern Maryland Comic-Con @ Hollywood Fire Department

9/1-3 Escape Velocity @ Gaylord Convention Center

9/10-11 Maryland Seafood Festival @ Sandy Point State Park

9/22-24 Baltimore Comic-Con @ Baltimore Convention Center

9/22-24 Baltimore Book Fest @ Baltimore Inner Harbor

 

 

 


Visionary’s spotlight on cool creative projects and initiatives, from projects the studio is working on, to ones our creators and partners are doing, to great finds on crowdfunding sites! Get the lowdown! Get inspired! Get Creative!

Bharata – The Project 

From Sunish Chabba and illustrated by Visionary artist Ishan Trivedi, Bharata takes inspiration from traditional Indian folk art forms, Kishangarh paintings &  miniature paintings as the central theme while the characters are imagined as part of the Indian royalty.  Bharata is India’s original name, and the whole deck is an ode to the stories of Kings & Queens, art forms & history of that land. It is one of the most beautiful pieces of work coming in the form of a fully custom illustrated playing card deck. This project also has a second deck inspired by tarot as a stretch goal.  The campaign has already surpassed it’s goal with lot of reward levels to join in! But hurry, the campaign ends July 12th! Check it out NOW!

Visionary Update

Greetings to all our subscribers! We wanted to give all of you a heads up on our current status!

You may have noticed our posting schedule has gone a bit astray, we hoped to get on top of things this week, however, it appears our main site is in need of some upgrades and TLC, we also have some core content we need to get polished and done for some of the cool things coming this Spring, and finding the bandwidth to do that and maintain our thrice-weekly posting is proving daunting.

So, we are taking a little hiatus, not more than a week or two, to regroup, get some core content updated, get some cool things in place, build up some lead time on content, and will then resume by end of February at the latest.

We appreciate folks checking out our posts and content, and we want to make sure to give everyone who comes to our site the best experience. Thanks!

My Comic Life Sundays: Penciling 101: The Layout 2

MCL BannerAnd we’re back! Apologies for the unannounced break last week, the schedule has just been crazy and it finally caught up to me. I’m going to be working this week to try and get a lead built back up so, hopefully, we won’t have to do that again. In the meantime, hope everyone has been enjoying the launch of our Get Creative Tuesdays which will be growing in content over the next few weeks. Now, forward…

Catch up with the My Comic Life Comic Strip on our Reader>>

Catch up with the My Comic Life Column at our Archive and Resources Page>>

My Comic Life Column 018: Penciling 101 The Layout 2

C. Edward Sellner cropped

Last time I started to focus on laying out a page of sequential art (i.e. a comic page) by discussing the basic structure of the page, using panels and setting them up in simple patterns for readability, such as the grid or stack layout.

This time I want to take that to the next level and begin to touch on ways of improving storytelling by mixing things up with panels and using the composition of the art itself to draw the reader in.

These principles apply whether you are a writer-artist doing your own story and fully illustrating it, or if you are an artist working from a full script. Even in those cases where you are working from a detailed, full, comic script, you as the artist still have a lot of leeway in how you choose to bring that script to life and these tips will help you take that process up a notch.

Let’s Call It a Dance with the Reader’s Eye

One of the fundamental elements of comic art is storytelling, as we mentioned last time (actually several times, but hey, it’s important). Storytelling in art has several levels of meaning, we’re going to focus on the most basic level at this point, and that is essentially how the art guides the reader’s eye through the story. Part of the artist’s job is to unfold the story through the art such that the reader’s eye is drawn naturally, even unconsciously, along through the proper sequence of actions, focal areas, and critical reveals, to engage the reader with the story, to essentially interact with them, by leading them.

Last time I showed a graphic featuring the typical panel layouts used by Jack Kirby, well, I updated that this time with simple directional lines showing reading sequence.

In the English language, we read from left to right, top to bottom, so that is the directional order western comics also follow, though obviously art layouts are more varied than reading line after line of text.

My reason for stressing the basic layouts of these grids and stacks was to create pretty simple reading flow in the story, clear direction for the reader which order to go, and as you can see – most form a Z or a stack of Z’s following that basic flow, left to right, top to bottom.

But this is only one of the means by which the layout can guide the reader’s eye, using basic, simple behavior patterns such as standard reading sequence.

There are lots of far more fun ways to do things as well.

Nudging the Grid and Stack Principle

There are also a number of very simple ways of bringing some variety into play that also help enhance storytelling while not pushing the envelope too much on simple panel layouts. For graphics, I’m using simple panel layouts where able, others showing finished pages to better illustrate the principles.

Staggered Panel Layout – while keeping the tiers of panels simple, vary the width of the panels on each tier so that instead of a locked grid you have a staggered layout of panels across the page. This will help give the page more of an organic flow as opposed to a rigid, locked pattern, as seen on the right.

Closed vs. Open Panels – closed panels are panels with full defined borders, or lines marking each edge, whereas open panels are ones that bleed art on at least one edge, thus no closing border line. Closed panels tend to feel more… well, enclosed, limited. Open panels, you got it, feel more open, more airy, imply greater space, or help focus on a specific element and pop it off the page.

Below are two pages from one of our Deadlands comics with art by Brook Turner. On these pages he kept to a pretty simple grid pattern layout, but each page has one open panel. On the page to the left, the bottom panel opens to make our hero larger than life, popping off the page. On the page to the right, the larger, establishing shot looking out over the water bleeds to the edge on three sides, giving it more a sense of scale and distance.

Dynamic vs. Straight Panel Borders – All the samples I’ve shown so far use straight, neat border lines. Adding some curve, or jagged border lines can add energy to a panel, giving it a dynamic sense of movement. This can be a handy technique for illustrating fight or other action scenes. The sample is a portfolio page from artist Dave Windett that uses curves and line textures to make even the very shape of the panels enhance the action.

We’ll get into some more rules about ‘breaking panels’ when we get a little further in, but for now, the idea is to show you can take very basic panel layouts and put a lot of variety and storytelling just in how those are laid out.

So, what about the actual art, can it also be used to help guide the reader’s eye?

[[SPOILER ALERT: Oh yeah…]]

 

It’s About Patterns and Cues

There are lots of subtle tricks artists can use to guide the eye across the page, to help ensure it moves through the key beats of the story. Here’s some of the most common with a little explanation on how they work.

Pattern Recognition – one of the most primal aspects of our species, and one that helped ensure our rise to the top of the food chain, is our innate ability to recognize patterns. Comics would not exist without this ability, because this is the same ability that allows our brain to interpret simple line drawings as representative of other things, including insanely simple drawings, such as everyone instantly recognizing a ‘smiley face’ as a face, or ‘stick figures’ as people.

Breaking this down more fundamentally, our eyes tend to pick out lines, curves, repeated patterns, and instinctively follow where they lead. So, the superior comic artist will use this fact in laying out the art of a page in order to draw the reader’s eye right where they want it to go.

Below is a page from a classic comic drawn by Steve Ditko, to the left is the page as is, to the right, an overlay using colored lines to show the use of patterns, curves and lines to enhance storytelling.

The blue lines show curving lines implied in the art that help guide the readers eye through each panel, and onto the next panel. The curve to the furthest left, brings us through panel 1 to panel 2, a reflection of that curve then directs us back left and down to panel 3, and a final curve pulls us out of 3 and through 4.

The yellow lines are lines created by the art to direct the action in each, and thus key elements to draw the eye, or frame the panel. In panel 1, it emphasizes the flying figure, in panel 2, a line frames the pilots, giving each a focal point. The pattern of horizontal lines in panel 3 help ensure we’ll look at each row of passengers, and moves us through into panel 4. Panels 4 and 5 put focus on the plane itself, the key element of the art.

The violet lines set up circular patterns which hold the eye, keeping it focused on the key art. That pattern helps us focus on the faces of the pilots in panel 2, shows us the erratic flight of the plane in panel 4, key to the story, and zeroes our attention on that plane in the final panel as it plunges into the wormhole.

Using that same Spider-Man page above, with an overlay we can show a similar but more direct use of lines and patterns, in this case, what we call Action Lines.

Our eyes are drawn to the characters, so their placement, the curves of their body, the angle of their limbs, the direction of their movement, etc. are setup nicely such that the eye will follow along those lines through the page, following the sequence of action. This being a fight scene, the curves, actions and motion is pretty over the top and exaggerated so very obvious and clear.

But, we can also take this to more subtle levels.

This layout is a page from The Dreamer, an excellent webcomic by Lora Innes. Here the action is more subtle, but the characters themselves still help guide the eye.

This page is marked to show flow of dialogue, which is also important (and something we’ll get to on lettering), but let’s also use those arrows to look at the art.

Notice the characters in panel 1 are moving left to right, the eye tends to go where they are going, so it helps reenforce that left to right reading flow.

The foreground character in panel 2 has stopped and turned back, his body now providing a break point, to cue shifting back and down to the mid-page panels.

In panels 3 and 4, as the character looks left, his direction of view, follows the direction we read. In that 5th panel, as he looks back and down, we follow where he’s looking to then go to that last panel.

Obviously a key moment of this page, the characters now are centered to keep the eye lingering on them in their reunion.

In other words, the character bodies don’t have to be in highly exaggerated or forceful poses to provide cues. Simple movement, or where a character is looking can do the same.

 

So, what have we learned? That a lot of thought for a page of comic art goes into how that page is set up, structured, and laid out all for the singular purpose of telling the story. I opened this series saying that the layout is the single most important step in drawing a page of art, and now I’m guessing that makes more sense.

A lot of this are those pieces of the toaster, to use our previous analogy, that someone who just thinks they can draw comics will miss. Why? Because, when done right, the composition and layout of a page that you as the artist sweated and bled over to get perfect, will simply flow into a seamless reading experience for the reader, where the eye glides through each beat without even noticing all the carefully laid signs and guides that made it happen.

That is part of the magic of comics.

NEXT

We’re going to turn our attention to THE PANEL as we explore that individual story beat that bears the heaviest burden of storytelling.

NOW DISCUSS…

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About C. Edward Sellner

A full-time professional freelancer, Sellner has credits as a comics writer, prose author, colorist, artist, and editor from multiple publishers. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Visionary Creative Services, one of the best-known production studios and digital publishers in the industry. The studio opened in 2006 and since then has published over 70 different titles in its digital line, and been involved in over a hundred different projects in production. Its clients range from Hollywood producers to international sports stars to other studios and publishers. It became the first independent studio to enter the licensing game with the announcement of its Deadlands license, which has since been published in comics from Image and IDW and novels from Tor Books. The studio also hosts a successful internship program where interns get practical, real-world freelancing experience, including paid work on actual jobs fitting their skill levels. Learn more at www.visionarycreativeservices.com!

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