Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Cartoons - Breaking Up Frames


I recently saw a product from a health store with the bold claim "see the difference in seven days", so I bought some to try.

A week later I was asked, "has it made a difference", and while I felt it was too early to say definitively, I couldn't help but make this joke. Then in the absense of any other Area 5.1 ideas I decided to turn it into a cartoon, but it gave me a few layout problems that I wanted to share.

Designing the Layout

My intention was to go for two simple page wide frames, no background images, just a bottle of medication and my two LGM's (little green men). It seemed simple enough, but the second frame troubled me. I wanted him peering into the pill bottle, but it then felt like I was giving the joke away before I'd really had chance to set it up.

Area 5.1 Original Frame 2

The second problem with this frame is overlapping dialogue, the reader is forced to skip left and right to consume the information in correct order, even though it is arranged to read down the page. I felt that splitting the frame into two was perhaps a better option.

The Final Image

Here's what I ended up with..

Area 5.1 - A Weak Claim
I think the change reduces the chance that the reader will jump ahead. The dialogue still works because the clipped tails point to the next or previous frame providing a reference to who's talking. But, it did mean showing the LGM's facing different directions (or they merge together in the middle like conjoined twins), so a little bit of effort was required to ensure the reader could tell them apart. Traditionally I use two body shapes, but it doesn't work well enough here. Instead I resorted to two distinct styles of eye.

See the web comic here: http://area5-1.webcomic.ws/comics/60/


  1. Seeing these two approaches together is very interesting. It's obvious that so much dialogue in one frame is too much. That's what I would have done though, I somehow feel that fewer frames is better. It's amazing how breaking that up into two makes each frame look nice and clean. I hadn't noticed that each frame had speech by each guy, but only one showing. The tails leading out of the shot works perfectly.

  2. The original layout required me to export the dialogue into sketchbook first to ensure that I didn't draw my LGMs too large. Even then it didn't feel right, but sometimes you have to live with something for a day or so until the solution comes to you.

    Mostly I agree with you though, fewer frames is better,... but not always!! (and here's proof)

    It goes back to my main supposition, don't give the reader excessive work to do. The interesting thing here is that the words are identical (if you ignore the typo), yet by adding a little more complexity (ie another frame) the final example is easier to read.