The Single Panel vs Multi-Panel Debate

I received a note from a long time reader who felt that he was enjoying the PC Weenies less as a multi-panel comic than when it was a single panel comic. It was sad to see him go, because invariably when a cartoonist loses a reader for good, it makes the artist question his own abilities.

That said.

While I enjoyed the heck out of my 8 year run as a single panel comic, it’s something I don’t want to revisit on a regular basis. Two years ago, at this time, I was getting incredibly burnt out with single panel comics. I had contemplated throwing in the towel.

Switching to multi-panel comics gave me some new found energy and got me excited about making comics again. Does that mean you’ll *never* see another new single panel PC Weenies comic? Nope. If the idea merits a single panel toon, then it will be a single panel ‘toon. Otherwise, I’m personally enjoying the extra room I have with the multi-panel format.

-Krishna

About the author

Krishna Sadasivam creates custom comics and illustrations for organizations, magazines and companies. A champion of comics advocacy, Krishna speaks, blogs, and writes articles on illustration and sequential arts techniques and the importance of the comics medium in both education and brand awareness. His clients have included Microsoft, Mashable, Other World Computing and EE Times. His work has been featured on many notable websites, including TechCrunch, Gizmodo and CNET. His portfolio can be found at krishnadraws.com.

  • Sam

    Oh my goodness, I can’t believe someone would seriously stop reading PC weenies because it is multi-panel. That is truly ridiculous. I enjoy the comic and read it consistently because I enjoy it, regardless of whether it is a single panel, or multi-panel. Keep the comics coming they’re outstanding!

  • GJB

    I agree with Sam. I’ve been reading PC Weenies for years and it’s always been good, whether it’s been single panel or multi-panel. But I do enjoy the story telling of the multi-panel strips better.

  • http://renevanbelzen.wordpress.com Rene van Belzen

    Well, reading is free, so stop reading should be free as well. As it is with PC Weenies.

    On the single panel versus multi-panel issue. I think a single panel comic (aka a cartoon) has no story, only a pun. This means the reader has to invest less time and effort into reading the piece. With a strip (or strips), you have story development, which means the reader has to do more thinking and reasoning, because something happens between the panels (something the author left for the reader’s imagination).

    So a single panel comic has another look and feel to it, invites another type of reader, one who is after story and less after a visual pun and one-liners. If that is so, I would advice against switching formats too often, because my guess is that it will confuse your readers. Most people reading “funnies” seem to want a predictable format, with contemporary ideas and alternative views infused into it, preferably made so explicit and ludicrous beyond a mere joke that it can’t but make you laugh.

    My 2 cents.

  • Adam

    I prefer the multi-panel format. Single panel comics aren’t conducive to developing characters or stories above the basic level (I’m not saying it can’t be done, but it is a lot harder). Contrast Dilbert with XKCD, for example, both funny, but Dilbert tells a better story.

    Bob, and his family have become a lot better when not just used as stereotypes.

    Despite that it’s the quality of your jokes, and if you’re better at one liners than punch liners that makes the difference. Thankfully you’re great at both.

  • http://oiwcs.com Kiponeil

    I agree with everyone above. The single panels were good, but they were just jokes. With the multiplanel we get jokes with depth since they have time to build.

  • http://dontfeedthegeek.com Barry Buchanan

    Single panel/multiple, funny is funny. I’ll keep reading either way. To me the single greatest thing about web comics is the template can be static or it can change. Print media toons have to stay in the same format. The webcomic can be single panel one day, 3 panels the next, and if you want to an 8 panel. While a consistant look can be good the freedom do these change ups seperates “web art” from nearly every other medium I can think of.

  • http://www.capesnbabes.com Chris Flick

    Dear Krishna,
    You TASKMASTER!

    As a happily married man for over 10+ years, it has been my goal to try to actually do as little work as possible (ask my wife!)- and thus far, I was succeeding until you switched formats. Now, I actually have to move my eyes from one panel to the next.

    Why do you force your readers to work so hard??? You should be ASHAMED of yourself.

    Especially if you can’t tell all of the above is written with my tongue FIRMLY in my check. ;-)

    But seriously, you know me. I prefer the flexibility of a multi-panel strip. You already stated all of the reasons why in your original blog post so I can’t really top that.

    Too bad your lost reader couldn’t tell you exactly what he/she felt was the difference between the two different kinds of strips. But for what it’s worth, I bet there’s a BUNCH more people (koff! koff!) that probably enjoy your strip a LOT more as a multi-panel strip.

    ;-)

    -Chris

  • http://www.capesnbabes.com Chris Flick

    “Firmly in my check”???
    Man, what have I been drinking???

    Ugh! See what happens when you make your readers work so hard? they forget to spell! LOL!

    -Chris