By Darryl Ayo
First panel of the first page of the first issue of BATMAN AND ROBIN. That’s what I’m about! That’s how you open up, you DO IT BIG!
And you’re probably thinking about the long tradition in American comic books of opening up issues with a large full-page splash panel. You know, those start stories about as big as you can get. Right? WRONGO!
Now that is exciting to me. It starts with explosions and moves forward with rising tension in the panicked crooks. It’s more exciting than the full-page splash page because that particular narrative device has been used so much its power has drained. It became standard.
Any storytelling tool has its place and has its points of power. But when a storytelling tool becomes convention…when it is not selected by the storyteller, but rather used as a matter of course, the tool becomes routine. So Batman and Robin’s storytellers, Frank Quitely (art) and Grant Morrison (story) shake up the convention. They still elect to open the book on a dramatic high point (“BOOM BOOM”) but they use that to escalate the tension until the reader turns the page and–
Now there is a two-page spread. And it has power because we have been building velocity from the first panel. High energy leads to higher energy and when we do finally see a big splash, it seems like it’s faster, more dangerous and more exciting than it would have been if we had started with the flying Batmobile.
Sorry. Got carried away.
(c) DC Entertainment.