Ada (2010), pages 2-3. Atak.
The sequence that the pictures on a page of comics run in is the most important decision an artist in the form can make; everything proceeds from there. Less pressingly important, but still often worth examining, is the sequencing of words. I don’t mean the poetic order that the individual units of language are put in, but the actual organization of text on the page, the way the reader’s eye is invited to move from one line of text to the next. It’s so important to effective comics storytelling that the through-lines between blocks of type be clean and easy to follow that it can be difficult to find anything really out of the ordinary being done with them.
The predominance of designated letterers in commercial comics only adds to this homogeneity. A good letterer’s typefacing and balloon placement can elevate a comic greatly, but division of labor between the hands putting the pictures and words on the page places an inevitable disconnect between the two. Cartoonists of all stripes forget too often that words can be made to work as pictures, with the same telegraphing power and simplified grace as the most elegant drawings. And that the words on a comics page, just like the pictures, are open to bold and different sequencing techniques, pieces to be moved into place with all due abandon.