Panel Discussions

Talon, Durwin S. Panel Discussions: Designs in Sequential Art Storytelling. S. Raleigh: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2002. In Panel Discussions Durwin Talon interviews fifteen comic book writers and artists about their craft. The work is a critical examination of how to create comics that engage the reader and move him around the page in an effective manner. Although not often considered as such, comics are an artform that take a considerable degree of thought and planning to make them communicate effectively. I'm fairly impressed with the book's content as it covers issues that rarely get much coverage, like how to create pacing, mood, and the importance of text and lettering. Discussions has a lot of good information, especially for anyone who reviews comics or wishes to create comics of his own. The bad news is that the book is simply not that well written. The style is labored and tedious. Part of the problem, I think, is that Talon organizes the book around the creator rather than the creation, devoting each chapter to another master or celebrity creator (Eisner, Giordano, and Mazzuchelli among the masters). In doing so, Talon winds up covering much of the same ground again and again. If the book were instead organized by topic (pacing, word balloons, color, et cetera) the reader might get a more holistic view of the subject. I suppose that the fanboy comics market probably drove the book to focus on the celebrity rather than the content, but a good editor might have done wonders for the prose as well. Durwin seems to misunderstand the basics of interviewing: letting the interviewee speak for himself. Instead, by summarizing and restating the creator's responses, the text becomes horribly redundant. Pick this book up, but do yourself a favor and focus on the text between quotation marks.