I’m excited to announce the publication of our latest paper, “The changing pages of comics: Page layouts across eight decades of American superhero comics” in the latest issue of Studies in Comics. This was a student project undertaken by the first author, Kaitlin Pederson, from my 2014 class the Cognition of Comics. She analyzed how page layouts have changed over time in American superhero comics from the 1940s to the 2010s. This is the first published, data-driven paper using corpus analysis on page layouts in comics, so that’s quite exciting!
Kaitlin went panel-by-panel in these books analyzing various properties of their page layouts. She coded over 9,000 panels across 40 comics. Some of these features are captured in this figure:
She found that certain features have decreased over time (horizontal staggering, etc.), while others have increased over time (whole rows, etc.). Overall, her conclusion is that pages in earlier comics were fairly unsystematic in their layouts, while over time they grew to be more systematic, and at the same time more treating the page as a whole “canvas.” This is complemented especially by changes towards using “widescreen” layouts in pages over the past two decades.
You can download the paper here (pdf), or at my downloadable papers page.
Also, here’s Kaitlin at Comic-Con 2015 reporting on her initial analyses of this project:
Pederson, Kaitlin and Neil Cohn. 2016. The changing pages of comics: Page layouts across eight decades of American superhero comics. Studies in Comics. 7(1):7-28
wow, this is very interesting! Thank you for the post! 🙂
Just skimmed the article – very interesting. I wonder if non-superhero works would show similar results.
Thanks for the comment! We have now done some analyses on non-superhero "indy" comics, and some from other countries, but not over time. We do show differences though. Currently working on writing those up!