Yes, yes, I can see perfectly well that this is only one panel. But sequence is just the same as anything else: one definition works fine until you run across something that contradicts it. To my eyes, the picture above is one such something. Today we’re going to examine how an artist can build sequence into a single image, creating pictorial motion without having to subdivide the page with panel borders.
We’ve already seen how sequence is subjective. The information on any page of comics exists independent of order, and while most artists lay out their pages in a way that leaves little of that order to question, it’s easy enough to skip around in the panels of comics your own way, randomizing the events or stitching new meanings into them. (What do you mean you’ve never tried that? You really should.) This is especially true of silent comics, where there are no strings of dialogue or narration to get in the way. Similarly, there’s almost never one correct, proscribed way to read a single panel, a logic the reader is meant to follow to move through one picture. In multi-panel comics, the images are most often meant as quick hits of action or locale, with only a single stage of the events taking place communicated within them before the next one hits. When there is more than that going on, as in this single-frame strip by Doug Wright, the Charles Schulz of Canada, what the reader is dealing with is sequence.