Writing A Comic Strip
With 3 Panels (or Less!)

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Writing a comic strip with 3 panels is easy if you understand what it takes to make it successful! A one panel comic strip requires more work to do, but it's usually more rewarding when you manage to nail it right! 

A two panels comic strip is probably the hardest one to create. It's not a one line punch and you can't work around your story in a 3 steps manner.

Writing a comic strip with three panels is a little easier to achieve. You can establish your characters a little more and work with your text more easily. Let's take at look a all three options and see what are the pros and cons of each of them.

One panel:

writing a comic strip

A one panel comic strip is a simple punch line. You don't know what happened before and of course, you don't see what will happen after. But if the text is well-written, the reader will have no trouble figuring out these issues.

In this example, the reader knows that the penguin on the left spent some time building a few snowman. And that he probably did so all alone. 

The reader is also able to figure out that the penguin on the right was just arriving when the other penguin said his line (I hate being alone).

Writing a comic strip with one panel is simply the ability for the cartoonist to extract a funny line from a situation. 

He also needs to make sure that all the visual elements that could help the reader guest what happened before (and sometimes after) this particular event are visible in the panel.

If you are able to do so, then your one panel strip will be effective and easy to understand for your readers!

Two panels:

writing a comic strip

Writing a comic strip with two panels is a little more difficult to create. In fact, in my honest opinion, it's probably the most difficult one out of the three to build.

Like the one panel strip, you need to extract the perfect one line punch from a situation. But you also need to show the previous line that was said by one of the characters.

And this line needs to be relevant! In this example, the first panel is informing the reader that these penguins are probably not aware of the danger associated with propane. 

The second panel is simple the result of what the penguin on the left guessed in the first panel (that you need to combine fire and propane to cook stuff)

The reader is now realizing that these penguins had the right information, but not the right method to achieved their goal!

But the important question for this two panels strip is: why isn't it a three panel one? Why did I choose NOT to show the reader what happened between these two panels (like the explosion, for example). 

Well, the answer is simply that it's funnier this way. The reader needs to use his imagination to figure out what happened in this "invisible" panel.

And the strip is more straight to the point this way. Seeing the explosion or not doesn't bring more information to the reader. So in a way, it's totally useless to see it!

Three panels:

writing a comic strip

A three panels comic strip is the easiest one to create. You can establish your characters and work with your text more easily.

You still need to be able to extract the perfect line to create a good ending, but you have more flexibility to reach this perfect ending. 

However, I decided to choose a special example to illustrate my point. In this comic strip, you'll notice that the panel in the middle is empty.

No text, no action, just the character standing and staring at the sky. But why on earth did I make a three panels comic strip out of it? Why not using two panels instead?

In this example, in order for it to work, the character needs to have a pause, a break. Imagine that there is no middle strip. Would it be as efficient? Probably not. Because the text is simple and calling for it (and the next day....).

Does it mean that the action on the third strip is happening a day later? No! It simply means that the character is making a pause between his two lines... he is in the process of thinking about what he's gonna say next.

And since he is deeply thinking about what is gonna say next, the fact that this final line is so obvious and simple IS what makes this panel so funny!

So there you have it! Writing a comic strip with 1, 2 or 3 panels isn't really difficult. You just need to know how to use them efficiently!

Have fun!


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