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Old 10-03-2009, 05:51 PM   #171
Mass Transit Ethnographer
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: In the heart of the heart of the country.
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RonaldMontgomery is just really niceRonaldMontgomery is just really niceRonaldMontgomery is just really niceRonaldMontgomery is just really niceRonaldMontgomery is just really niceRonaldMontgomery is just really nice

Arseneau, I thought you were giving me crap. If you weren't, sorry. I was WRONG and I jumped to conclusions.
Again, I'm sorry.
(When I come in from the Kid Intense threads I'm always freaked out -- I don't know if it's the saline injections or the steroids.)

I was at the library on Thursday night, flipping through a copy of Transworld Skateboarding. I had an epiphany. Let me preface the rest of the story:

I'll admit it -- the nine-panel grid has always confused me. Writers talk about, "Oh yeah, I want to do a story in the nine-panel grid style."
I'm like, What does that mean?!?! they act like it's a kind of story, a genre to itself.
I think part of my confusion is seeing people do a shitty job with nine panel pages, like thinking that nine panel means plodding, punctuated by action or revelation...or using nine panels to establish a downbeat mood.
For me, it started to click when I thought about nine panels in terms of rock music. The panels are like the drum beat -- the drummer sets the beat everyone else follows. If the drummer can't keep a beat, everyone else will be thrown off; if you don't have a good panel flow, it doesn't matter what you put in -- how many old comics have you read where to editor added little arrows to direct the reader from one panel to the other?
So okay, you have your beat. In nine panels lets say it's a steady thump-thump-thump. You break it every once in a while, like maybe leading into the bridge, or at the end. Changing the beat punctuates a change in state, and/or sets up something, like maybe a crescendo.
So now, the question is, what do you build around the drums? Variation and repetition, setting mood, using weird instruments...and on and on. That's a whole 'nother noodle.
Viewed this way, nine panels seems to be an exercise in restraint. Honestly, the first thing I think of is the watch motif in Watchmen. Time marches and is measured the same, but what happens within the unvarying defined moments, though finite in action, is infinite in possibility.
I might be completely wrong about nine panels. But this helped me get my head around the possibilities, instead of looking at a nine panel page and thinking What the Fuck do I do now?!

Where was I, oh yeah, the skateboarding mag. They have this feature where they take these stop-motion shots of a skater doing a trick. What struck me about these pictures was how you could change the story by removing pictures. Oh sure, the beginning and ending are the same, but depending on the mood and tension, you can do all kinds of tricks. For example, on page one: 1/3/4/5 tell a different story than 2/4/6.

What clenched it for me...the name of the feature was 9 Frames/Second.
Ronald Montgomery
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