Single comic panels that depict both cause and effect

Ed Piskor, creator of the Wizzywig comic, sez, "This article contains a dozen or so examples of comic panels that handle sequences of different related actions. Usually action is broken up through a series of panels, or even pages, but master cartoonists are able to handle a lot of information within a single illustration as evidence at the link. Good examples are hard to find."

The Art Of Cause and Effect In A Solitary Comic Panel (Thanks, Ed!)


  1. Yeah! Tintin, Akira, Frank Miller. . .that’s the good stuff. The cause and effect example makes me think of a Walt Kelly Pogo strip when the turtle hit a baseball around the world. But he took a full page Sunday strip to do it :)

    I bet Carl Barks has some good examples, I should go dig up my old Uncle Scrooges. . .

  2. Panels like these are so ingenious – people don’t really think about things in a linear fashion, but just like this, as chunks of information, or series of actions. One of those things that make comics special.. the way they mirror the creators’ thoughts and perceptions in such a short time, in rectangles filled with color, text, and shape.

  3. There’s actually an even more common variation that bends cause and effect just as much: the simple conversation. Open a comic (any comic) and look for a panel that has two characters in a back-and-forth conversation. Just a few words balloons worth will work, but one where a character is shocked by that information he finds is the best to illustrate. You’ll see one character (B), mouth open, calmly relating the information to the other character (B). Character B will be reacting (face shocked, confused, or otherwise just mouth open and also talking) at the same time.

    Take away the word balloons, and it looks like two people talking over each other while one of them has a nervous breakdown. It’s the flow of the conversation and composition of the frame that makes us interpret it sequentially.

    1. If you read the article, you’ll find quite early up “While sharing fun examples I want to focus on mostly action-based applications of Cause and Effect in comic panels for this entry, though there are great examples of cause and effect with characters reacting to spoken words. ”

      He’s already acknowledged the spoken word example, and is specifically stating his focus to be on action examples, not the broader case of any kind of cause and effect in one panel.

    1. I thought you meant Grizzly and was excited to see a comic which focused primarily on ursine death. Ah well.


  4. Bill Waterson was also a genius of drawing sequential action. I’m surprised to not see some Calvin and Hobbes examples.

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