Understanding All About Comic Formats

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Before starting to develop your story you have to decide what format your comic is going to take. Depending on the format, the number of pages and their size, you can tell different kinds of stories. It’s like in movies; you have to know if you’re going to make a short film or a long film before you start writing the script. Also in the comic script you have to be much more concise, because if you are going to make a standardized publication of 24 pages, you can’t pass or not arrive, they are 24 pages, so you have to structure the story very well.

Let’s see the type of formats that there are:

  • The Vignette It is the smallest format of all; you have to include the whole story in a box. It is the most used in newspapers, whether printed or digital. You have to have a lot of synthesis power to tell a story in just one vignette.
  • Strip Here the story is told in 3 or 4 panels that form a strip that goes from left to right of the page. In this format the sequentiality is born and you can develop the story with a beginning, middle and end. It is often published in newspapers and magazines.
  • Page Stories where they start and end on a single page. There is freedom in the number of vignettes and you can let the anecdote of the story develop more.
  • Manga It is the typical Japanese comic format in which the page is smaller and has 4 or 5 panels inside.
  • Comic book This is the most common American format of 24 pages per volume. The classic format in which the stories of superheroes are published.
  • French-Belgian format The French-Belgian format has between 46 and 52 pages per album and 11 cartoons per page, spread over four rows. The classic stories of Tintin or Asterix are published in this format.
  • Graphic novel You can have as many as 200 pages or more in a graphic novel with any type of content. It does not have a predefined format.

The format determines everything and the success of a comic can’t be separated from the selection of the appropriate format.

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Tom Smith

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