This homage to Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That ALWAYS Work by Mark Waid and Jeremy Rock at The Gutters nails quite a few good ones. Go to the link for the other four—oh and a snark about a DC executive. CAN U GUESS WHO?


  1. For an example of how the artwork and the writing in a story interact, or don’t, people can look at last month’s NEW AVENGERS #28. Avengers are being held captive by the X-Men at the start; they’re being held captive at the end. Nothing happens in between, although the Avengers imagine that stuff does. There’s no change in the status quo for anything. If the issue hadn’t been published, what would have the effect on the overall AvX storyline been? Nothing.

    The issue serves as an example of how nothing the artist does matters if the writer doesn’t give him material to illustrate. If the artwork had been bad, the reader might have thought less of that, but he can’t think less of the nonexistent story.


  2. The gore panels stopped being shocking waaaaaaaaaaaaay before a year ago and it’s cheap to begin with. ..and not just from DC. Though it does seem to be very much a Johns staple.

    I’m not someone who supports censorship but that the same time I really do not get why anyone wants horror movie levels of gore in a superhero comic. It gives nothing to it other than the smell of desperation to be looked upon as “edgy”.

  3. Peter,

    Yes and no to the tongue-in-cheek aspect of it. The subtitle is: “or Some interesting ways to get some variety into those boring panels where some dumb writer has a bunch of lame characters sitting around and talking for pages and pages.” It was, after all, a guide for Wood’s neophite assistants. Wood usually provided the inks on hack jobs and he wanted something to draw that wouldn’t bore him to tears. 22 Panels can be a master cheat sheet for hacks or a guide to vary pictorial storytelling. It all depends on the artist using it. I know for a fact pros that use it in earnest.

  4. @Synsidar

    Really? New Avengers 28 was fantastic. The devious and desperate method the Avengers were willing to use to escape captivity were on full display, and at the end we saw the cold cruelty of their imprisonment at the hands of the X-Men. The issue did a great job establishing AvX as a real war, showing both sides willingness to dehumanize the other. It didn’t push the story forward by leaps or bounds, but I as a reader want more than just illustrated bullet points doling out plot points.

  5. The devious and desperate method the Avengers were willing to use to escape captivity were on full display, and at the end we saw the cold cruelty of their imprisonment at the hands of the X-Men.

    But the Avengers weren’t actually doing anything. They were only fantasizing that they were, and the story doesn’t give the reader a basis for even thinking that the characterization of anyone is accurate, if what’s happening is only a fantasy or dream.

    The alternative was to have the captive Avengers try to escape, have the X-Men guards try to stop them, and then have everyone responsible for his or own behavior. But that would conflict with the probable ending to AvX, which will hold the Phoenix Force responsible for every mutant’s bad behavior, so none of them is really guilty of anything except problems coping with stress.

    There’s no comparison between imaginary drama and real drama.


  6. Wood’s guide is a collection of visual tips, but Waid’s page isn’t really about visual storytelling at all – it’s aimed at writers.

  7. I totally agree with MattComix!

    I find myself reading the Silver Age Superman and Sci-fi comics from the Murphy Anderson era because they have an imagination and wit that is very lacking in today’s comics. There is nothing witty about a sword through the chest. Especially when you’ve seen it 3 times before.

  8. Panels that don’t work for me include those
    4-in-a-row-medium-shot panels where someone talks, talks, talks. Yet the art is exactly the same in panel after panel. Yawn.

  9. @David Quinn

    Tim Vigil and you did gore in a way that still gives me nightmares. Faust is criminally underrated.

    Wood was a master of the form. I know very well respected artists that worship his work. There’s still a lot to learn from Wood.

    Toth was a killer with framing. No one did it better than him.

  10. The Philco panel… that could easily be transplanted into the Times Square panel. There are LED screens EVERYWHERE, none of which have audio, just like that TV/Radio store. (They weren’t called “electronics” stores until the 1990s.) ABC, NASDAQ, Kodak…

    So breaking news, stuff that’s important and earth-shattering that you interrupt your regular scheduled advertising, yeah, that’s a good device. Then everyone’s phones start vibrating/ringing, and people piece together the drama. “I heard…” “Twitter said…”

    Superheroes… Would a kevlar vest protect the back from a sword?

    I guess the “back slash” is used because you get the visual of the sword along with the hero’s grimace. You can’t cleave the head like a melon, or impale him through the buttocks and genitalia, since that would be too gory, thus ruining the “T+” rating the publishers self-impose. Nope… gotta make sure the gore is safe.