Comic page layouts
David A Gerstein
David.A.Gerstein at williams.edu
Tue May 10 02:35:50 CEST 1994
"One thing that I forgot to ask in my first post was why
and when did Disney adopt these standard page layouts? Likewise,
why did Egmont and GP adopt these?"
The very first Disney newsstand comics came from newspaper
strips, and at first they were 68-page chunks with approximately three
daily strips printed per page, rearranged to make four three-panel
rows. This was the industry standard in the mid-'30s for reprint
comics. I believe that WDC&S is this way through about #8.
But in the early '40s comics were beginning to explode with
original material throughout the industry, not just reprints of
newspaper strips (which had filled many companies' early comic
books... I'm not talking about Disney strips only). Because it would
have been near impossible to draw such tiny panels -- and because the
format was itself kinda cramped -- most comics seemed to go with
6-panel pages with their early original stories. To match them, Dell
began reprinting daily MM strips in exactly such pages (although it
left the Sunday strips and Donald dailies in the more cramped format, and
would continue to do so). Then when Dell started making their own
stories -- the first being some by Ken Hultgren, followed by the first
Barks ones -- they used the industry standard, 6-panel pages.
Then came World War II. Actually, it had started in 1941, but
it was in 1944 that paper shortages got really tough. The comics were
forced to go from 68 to 52 pages (incl. covers). So that they could
keep the same amount of total STORY in them, though, Dell (although not
all companies) moved to 8-panel pages... they were in such a rush to
do it that they even reformatted some stories that had been drawn in
6-panel format, to fit the new style (Barks' "Kite Weather" was one
example, and Gottfredson's "Land of Long Ago" went from 6-panel pages
to 8-panel ones partway through its serialization).
In 1945 there was another such shortage, and the comics VERY
briefly went down to 36 pages. Very briefly, you see the comics going
into 12-panel pages (4 rows of 3 panels, not 2). This time, most
artists were ahead of the game, but some 8-panel page stories got
reformatted nonetheless (including a Barks Barney Bear story in OUR
GANG). This stopped, though, and they went back to 52 8-panel pages
as the war ended.
In the 1950s Dell went down from 52 to 36 pages for good, and
then when they couldn't cut pages any longer, they began adding ads.
This time, they stayed with 8-panel pages, even though this meant you
got less total "story" in the issues.
At this time, 6-panel pages were being done overseas for the
Italian pocketbook weekly, TOPOLINO. Because their comics were
smaller, the Italians felt that they'd use 6-panel pages to make sure
the pictures could be easily discerned even when dense and detailed.
This continues to this day. Whitman used 6-panel pages when they made
Digests in the 1970s... they even reformatted 8-panel stories,
including many Barks ones, into 6-panel, although they seemingly did
it at random (many stories were also used with the original layout).
Interestingly, the first two times Gladstone used Italian 6-panel
stories, they reformatted them into 8-panel stories so that they
wouldn't be so long, but they stopped doing it after that.
And Disney uses 6-panel pages for the comics in Disney
Adventures, continuing the old tradition. It's a matter of using the
size that permits the panels to be clearly enjoyed in whatever size
the comic is printed in.
When Gottfredson stories are reprinted now, the format varies.
That's because sometimes we're actually seeing reprints as prepared
for old WDC&S, with 8-panel pages ("The Lectro Box"), or reprints of
the original strips -- sideways with three four-panel rows, or new
reprints made after the style of early WDC&S (in which the strips are
rearranged into 6 or 8-panel pages a la Dell, but it's Gladstone doing
the rearranging -- i. e. "Monarch of Medioka").
I hope this explains it.... >gasp!< ;-)
<David.A.Gerstein at Williams.edu>
"I'm the Fuller Brush Man! I'm givin' g'way free semple!"
More information about the DCML