Writer. Creator. Large mammal.

Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 7

Storytelling Lecture Series, Part 18 (Edited from the transcript of a 1994 seminar)

Page nine.

Panel one.

Now they’re talking. Interacting. As you’d expect, Kirby shows them up close. 

Panel two.

Here’s an interesting thing. They’re still talking. Generally, you’d show that up close. Kirby could have done this closer, but he pulled the camera back here to show you how high up we are, where we are. Resetting the location. An establishing shot. Why’d he do that?

Because he was trying to set up this shot. Remember I said he was very careful about tilting his camera? He has now tilted it 90 degrees. He’s turned the world on its side. When little 11-year-old Jimmy read this in a barber shop, I never for a moment wondered why these three men were lying on the street. [laughter] I knew exactly what was going on. Why?  Because he set it up. He made sure I could not misunderstand.

No panel you can do is wrong, it depends on what’s around it. Anything you can think of, you can do. There are no rules. Anything you can think of, you can do it. There’s no such thing as a bad panel. It depends upon what’s around it. Set it up, make it clear and you can do anything. 

Panels four and five.

So Cap puts the crooks in a car. A Ferrari, says Stan. I’m guessing here that Kirby didn’t have any Ferrari reference handy. And they get away. What’s interesting here is the pacing. More about that in a minute.

Page ten.

Action, full figures, reaction/interaction up close. See? One tilted horizon, a flying shot. Okay.

Page eleven.

Action, full figures, standard action depth. Reactions and emotions up close.

Page twelve.

Panel one.

This is an interesting panel. Look at this. There are 15 minutes of time in this panel. Cap obviously broke in, overpowered the guard, looted the vault…. Kirby didn’t spend his life drawing this panel, but, everybody knows what happened here. We see him wheeling the money away…

Panels two through five – this is the setup for a long pull-back-to-reveal. Wait till you see what’s next.



Paul Levitz’s Finest Scam


Storytelling Lecture, Strange Tales Part 8

1 Comment

  1. Dear Jim,

    Like you at 11 (though I was 32), "I never for a moment wondered why these three men were lying on the street." The key is the "Kirbuilding." Kirby didn't just draw a few lines to indicate a wall; he drew details and Ayers preserved them, possibly adding a few in the process. He established the look of the building in the previous panel so it could be recognized in the wall-crawling trio scene.

    The car in the following panel and subsequent pages may be based on a 50s / early 60s Ferrari 250:


    It's not as on model as the Mustang on the cover of HARBINGER #1, but close enough. I can't stand it when artists make up cars. Kirby didn't do that here. Maybe he was working from memory or a glance at a photo. Drew it well enough so Stan could recognize it. I assume Stan didn't specify the getaway car in his plot.

    I agree that "there's no such thing as a bad panel." I'd say it depends on what that panel is meant to convey. Ditto for covers. The all-black VALIANT SOLAR cover comes to mind.

    Page twelve, panel one reminds me of an old school cover packed with lots of info. Or a splash panel for "Captain America … Thief?!" Nothing like this in manga, not on the covers, and not inside. Kirby compressed the boring stuff (we don't really need to see Cap tie up the guard, do we?) so he can focus on the cool stuff like the shot in panel three, a showcase of the combined power of perspective and anatomy.

    By this point, the reader is wondering, "Cap really can't have gone bad, could he?" The climax is coming up!

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