Standardization of Artwork

Mark Mayerson mayerson at
Fri May 6 17:57:56 CEST 1994

James Williams wrote:

> Are Egmont and GP limiting their artists abilities
> to tell stories by forcing them to use standard page layouts? One of
> the reasons that Don Rosa first caught my attention is because I
> noticed that in some rows he uses 3 or 4 panels (instead of the
> mandatory 2).

I don't think that this has a simple answer.  I've read an interview with
Alex Toth, one of the great comic book artists, who said that when he first
went to work for Western he was very frustrated by the standard page
layouts but that he came to appreciate them.  On the other hand, Will
Eisner couldn't be Will Eisner without the ability to break down the
page his own way.

Sometimes, built in limitations can be a blessing.  Because there are
8 panels to a page, Barks was able to knock you backwards with a half
page panel.  Jack Kirby had to go to a full page or even two pages for
the same effect, because he wasn't generally limited to small panels.
(Does anybody out there remember Jim Steranko's 4 page panel in a
Shield story in Strange Tales?)

There's all kinds of other limitations.  The drawing style is lifted
from animation, where you get a black outline and a solid color interior.
There's no interior shading on the characters, like Walt Kelly added to
the Pogo characters or like straight cartoonists like Eisner used.
As a result, Disney comics don't use lighting effects or shadows very much.
That's certainly a story-telling limitation.

In another sense, though, all these limitations add up to a definition of
what Disney comics are supposed to look like.  Or at least what we're used
to them looking like.

> There is an unwritten rule
> in Disney comics that every panel must contain at least one piece of
> dialog.  I'll ask again, is this limiting Disney artists abilities to
> tell stories?

I can think of at least one page in Barks' Luck of the North, where
Donald is contemplating what he's done to Gladstone, where there's a 
silent panel.  I'm sure other people will come up with other examples.

Are the Disney artists being limited?  Absolutely.  It means, though, that
when they break the rules with a half page panel or a silent panel, it
has greater meaning.  
Mark Mayerson				Side Effects Software Inc.,
Internet:  mayerson at          Toronto, Ontario, Canada
					(416) 366-4607	  

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