The work comics creator Art Spiegelman put into Maus, the haunting and haunted story of his father’s experience in the Holocaust and the way it shaped his family history, is incredible. Every page is a meticulously arranged, each panel expressing itself individually and working in concert with a larger, more elaborate whole.
In a new video on YouTube, critic and commentator Nerdwriter dissects a page of Spiegelman’s masterpiece, using it as a jumping-off point to discuss the broader art and craft of comic book page design. In a comic, the page is a unit of space and time all tangled up—the past and present both existing right up next to each other. In that way, the specific shape and style of each panel is essential. It builds a sense of chronology and spatial logic. Because of that importance, page design is an essential art, though it’s often an underrated one outside of creator circles.
Nerdwriter’s introduction is a solid one, and he has a nice reading of a great page early on in Maus to illustrate his point. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud is another work to check out if this stuff is new to you and you want to know more. His book is a primer in a lot of what makes comics tick. Media literacy is important, y’all.
Nerdwriter’s video is below, and you can see the rest of his work here.