Panels Out Of Context

Comic fans sometimes quibble with Roy Lichtenstein’s appropriations of Wally Wood, Irv Novik, Jack Kirby etc. But one thing Lichtenstein accomplished by putting a single panel on a gallery wall was to force us to look at that panel in a whole new way. We know the panel has come from a larger narrative, but we are left to imagine what went before and what will transpire after. On top of that we are asked to see the frozen moment; it’s emotional content, it’s graphic power, it’s strange mix of words and picture; for itself.

The internet has created a new medium to view single comic book panels out of context. “News” sites routinely run panels, rather than whole pages, to illustrate a link to a story on-line. I like lingering over these panels; drinking them in for what they say and what they hint at. Marveling at the craft involved and intuiting what might have been going on in the heart and mind of the artist. Here’s one of mine from MYSTERY INCORPORATED #1.

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