If you have a lot of characters to introduce, or a lot of quick actions to depict in sequence, or otherwise want to communicate the maximum amount of sequential pictorial information on a page, then your best friend is the Nine Panel Grid. Three tiers of three panels each and you can fill 'em up with punching or running or whatever it takes to get that story moving. It's a valuable tool in the graphic novelists' box of tricks. However, like any tool, it's good for some jobs and for other jobs it's not so good. And should it be the only tool you ever use? No. No sir it should not.
And yet, there are those out there who believe that life here began out there. Also, they believe that they can use the Nine Panel Grid in every circumstance. Would they go so far as to create a comic book that was... NOTHING BUT NINE PANEL GRIDS???!!?11! Surely no one would be so crazy as to do such a thing!
Well, someone did. And don't call me Shirley.
Yessir, it's Nine Panel Grid the Comic, which guarantees you the maximum formalist structure of nine solid panels on every single page. As an exercise in technique and pacing, this is not without merit. However, how does this work in terms of delivering an entertaining or interesting comic book reading experience? Not so well, it turns out.
In our first story we follow a sad-faced tween with an unfortunate haircut as he navigates personal interation in the year 1972.
Notice how the incessant nine-panel grid format ensures that we, the reader, are given maximum exposure to the act of drinking beverages. Some comic books may slide by with only devoting one or two panels to drinking a glass of Kool-Aid, but Nine Panel Grid goes all the way. The rising action, the moment of maximum fluid flow, the slight raising of the glass as the last of the beverage is imbibed, and the final setting of the empty glass on the table - all are shown in explicit detail!
Later Annoying Friend hassles his baby sister. Then Cool Mom shows up. The center of this particular Nine Panel Grid page should, of course, be one of positive eye-catching appeal, so here's one of nature's uglier babies. Enjoy!
Since it's 1972 let's smoke some funny cigarettes and read underground comics, some of which are worldwide classics that have influenced generations with their artistry and bold storytelling, none of which relied on the Nine Panel Grid.
Nine Panel Grid - the comic bold enough to stick to a rigorous methodological format, edgy enough to use an actual Snoopy t-shirt, but one that hasn't the balls to actually reference Crumb's "Meatball". Okay then
Great, more panels of this dopey kid's unfortunate haircut and gaping maw. Thanks, Nine Panel Grid.
Will Dopey stay for dinner? Nope, he's going home. Nine Panel Grid delivers the drama in old-school Nine Panel Grid style!
And he pukes in a field and total strangers laugh at something completely unrelated. Who says comics have to be about anything? Not Nine Panel Grid!
I think even Snoopy is embarrassed here.
The next exciting story in this issue of Nine Panel Grid is named after a Bruce Springsteen album and yes, every page has nine panels.
It's about a guy and... a woman? Another guy? Cool Mom from the other story? No? Two people visit the beach. That's what I'm going to go with. Two people.
One guy - this one's definitely a guy - one guy goes swimming. The water is cold.
Meanwhile on the beach, a goateed sunglasses man tries to impress the other person with his amazing Seattle address and his job with a touring rock act.
Eventually goatee sunglass man wanders away, into the wilderness beyond the constriction of nine panel borders. Meanwhile other guy returns from the sea.
And they sit on the beach. Here, have some panels. Not really sure who the intended audience was for this nine-panel saga... thesis committees? Panels of instructors reviewing graphic-novelist degree portfolios? Anal-retentive obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers for whom things not in three sets of threes are abhorrent and wrong? Was this, like, a bet or something? And is this the result of winning the bet, or losing the bet? Maybe we'll never know.
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