Ask Boichi about Manga 5 – The art of Montage


The art of Montage

Hi Boichi-sensei, I’d like to know how you proceed when cutting the page’s frames, meaning how do you chose them so it’s not ugly-looking (too many frames)?

But also how to make the most of their potential as to make the final page composition better?

– Raiqui Zer

Hello, Raiqui Zer. I hope you’re doing well and thanks for your wonderful questions.

But it’s very difficult question for me to answer it.

I’d wish to be better than anybody at paneling manga. I hope there is somebody can teach me seriously!!

A dramatic effect for manga paneling… I sure would need it as a mangaka!!

I really want to know…

But if we both ponder on this problem, it won’t benefit any of us…

So I’ll do my best to answer your question.

Firstly, let me tell you the terms I use on the subject of paneling for manga.

I call the panels and cutting the page’s frames “the montage“. The name “montage” is a term originating from fine arts but hold a different meaning.

When used in visual arts, it represents continuity.

Cutting panels (aka the montage. And from now on I will refer to paneling and cutting frames as “montage”) is very similar to the montage in fine arts but they are actually arranged temporally.

In this respect, it’s very similar to films and animation frames but it also differs from them too.

This is because the panels in manga are varying in size and shape according too the division page to page which causes more complicated eyes movements.

Even so, the panels in films and manga are both arranged temporally.

In manga montage, space is time’s material and the time shown in manga is kind of an illusion, however it still shows a physical effect.

The time in manga montage and continuity are composed in our brains.

At this point I like to tell you two things.

A. The differences of montage among Manga, Comics and Graphic Novels.

Manga, Graphic Novels, Comics and BDs are all part of the graphic community language forms. Showing continuity in the story by paneling with pictures is the rule, and they are very similar.
But at the same time, they are all different.

To put it simply, I’d like to say that manga is more thorough and persistent in visualizing the space and communicating the story through paneling then its brothers (Comics, Graphic Novels and BDs).

Each have its own excellent advantages but I think it should be noted that manga has merits only manga do.

People’s love to read manga is not because manga shows big eyed pretty girl’s panties. They love manga because it uses the panels (the montage) as a tool of temporality more then other comic forms.

Oh… Of course I’m not reading manga because I love to see big eyed pretty girl’s panties…hum hum…

B. When montage is disassembled and reconstructed.

The montage is basically a one-page layout unit. It is based on divisions and the page can be disassembled.

What’s more, the montage uses physical 2 dimensional forms within the brain but it’s also possible to actually form it in time.

Let’s take a look at a few examples and think about the limitations of these.

Back in 2004, a new digital comic form called “Webtoon” was born in Korea. (Before that there was some developing period.)

It’s a vertical scrolling comic and panels are arranged in numerical order. Very similar to continuation sheet in animation and films.

There seems to be no need pages here (looks like it).

In webtoon, the main paneling focus on how to separated montage in an endless vertical space.

This is a very precisely timed montage. The panels are directed to go to one way.

Kind of like an animation with speech balloons and no movement.

There has been discussions about whether “Webtoon” hold the joy of the montage or not, but it became a very successful digital comic form in Korea and some Korean say “Webtoon” will be successful globally someday.

In my opinion, I hope many various digital manga and comic forms emerge in many ways and will play a role in the future

However, “Webtoon” also have serious drawbacks.

I cannot find any merit when comparing Animation with Webtoon and I cannot feel the original charm of Manga (traditional) from Webtoon (digital).

I suggest that those who have claimed “Webtoon” is the future of comics should study traditional manga more. (Of course it is just a joke but we don’t know what will happen in the future.)

Nevertheless, one thing can be very huge with “Webtoon”.

Consider a small screen, a very small screen. Smartwatches for example.

If you watch movies or play game in this small smartwatches’ screen, you won’t find any fun in that.

But even with this small screen, there is only one thing we can enjoy as traditional form. And that’s manga!

Because we, mangaka have been drawing fun on small screens for hundreds of years.

In a tiny screen such as a smart watch, manga is perfect to provide the appropriate entertainment.
“Webtoon” proved this to us.

Anyway, the montage is a tool of manga creating a narrative by forming a continuity by dividing the pages.

Once you understand this, I think you’ll have a basic answer on how to do the montage.

1. Paneling as simple as you can

Cutting the panels is for conveying the story. So they must be paneled simply.

The panels should be able to determine what the readers can pinpoint immediately.

2. It is simpler than you think

When creating visual continuity, the montage must be simple.

It’s best that even the readers don’t remember how the montage was.

I would like to say that it’s better to try new and strategically new strategies to create your own montage.

3. Follow the rules of sequence composition

You can call it “layout of the scene”, but as for me, I call it “the sequence of composition”.

But it doesn’t matter what we call it.

You need to follow the core principles that make a sequence, and you don’t even have to follow them all. But if you don’t follow the rules then you need to have clear purposes.

Creating Sequence is like writing Stories. Every story has a beginning and an end.

Here I’d like to add my own ways to create the montage.

1. There are rules in Montage. Memorize them.

There are many ways to paneling manga.

In general, the paneling is rectangular.

It is better to memorize and practice as much as you can.

2. Montage is the tool of drama.

The purpose of the montage is to convey an effective powerful narrative to the readers.

I believe that the montage is only for the drama and it is a very serious rule of the manga.

Visual beauty in manga should not be viewed only in a picture of the page.

I believe good montage complete the story and drama to the readers through panels.
That is what montage is for!

3. Study “mise en scene” and use it!

Montage must be used psychologically to be a tool of drama

In the early days of manga, montage has been developed for the purpose of controlling the time rather than for psychological purposes, but since then it has developed to support the psychological effect.

Great montage with psychological effects is the tool to show emotions to readers, such as comfort, tension, sadness, joy, anger, etc….

Of course, the use of neutral panels are also necessary.

Drama cannot always be high in emotion.

4. Saving for the climax!

I would like emphasize my answer to Raiqui’s question. What I believe to be the most important in montage of manga is… saving.

Everyone has to save their money and salary for the month to live, right?

If you spend your money on buying expensive stuffs or partying in night clubs for a single night, and then end up eating only cup ramen every day, we cannot say it is good lifestyle… right?

The montage is the same.

Save the scenes and when comes the important moment of the drama you can show it!

This is the reason why manga is interesting to read and it’s the same for films.

Create and tell stories in the limited time and the space (such as two hours for movies and 24 pages for manga) is our (mangaka’s) job and a wonderful creative experiences.

We can dream of unlimited space, but it should not be realized.
There is no austerity and no aesthetics without limit,

No, there are unrestricted aesthetics existing somewhere, but all artists such as mangaka and movie directors are creating their masterpieces from limited spaces.

Saving is magic. It is really important.

Hum, I think this is it for now. I didn’t have example pictures this time around.
It may be difficult to understand but I tried to make it simple as I could.

If you have any questions for the montage of manga, keep asking me what you need to know.

Also, if you like to show your drawing and panels then please do show me.

Hope I can help you next time a little more. ^^

– Boichi

You too, ask your question to Boichi

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