A basic guide to choosing a page size

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A basic guide to choosing a page size

Postby adrilahan » March 13th, 2012, 8:16 pm

This was supposed to be a question, but as I started writing, I began answering it for myself. I thought I'd post it so other people could read it and add their two cents, because I thought it might help someone?


A basic guide to choosing a page size

There are a number of page sizes available to the comic book artist, in fact, the choice can be a bit bewildering. How do you choose a size for your page? In general, certain sizes are used for certain styles of comics. Manga tends to be on one size of page, western on another size of page. Every once in a while, you'll see a comic in glossy magazine format, usually comics that are more artsy.


Why does page size matter?

When you choose your page size, you've immediately made a big choice. That choice is one of target audience. This is especially true if you think about how it would be stocked in a comic book store. How many manga readers peruse the western section? How many western readers peruse the manga section? How many people look at the 'other format' section their comic book store might have?

If you choose to do a "typical" manga page size, you're more likely to appeal to that audience before they even look at your cover. The same is true if you decide on a "typical" western size page.


So if I choose to write a manga story, I should use manga page size, but if I do a western story, I should choose a western page size?

In general, yes.

Let's imagine a story that follows some American military personnel. If you choose the western page format, you'll appeal to the target audience better, because it just makes sense that a story focused on the American military would use the western page format. It would be 'un-American' to do it any other way, wouldn't it?

But if the story is about Samurai, the manga page sizes are probably a better choice. Manga is Japanese, Samurai are Japanese, of course the two go hand-in-hand.


What if my comic is a fusion of western and manga?

Then the page choice comes down to the story's target audience. The page size needs to meet the expectations of the reader, and compliment the story's themes.

Let's go back to our examples above: one about American military personnel, and one about Samurai.

If you swap the two, and do a story about American soldiers on manga page sizes, and a story about Samurai on western page sizes, one of them might struggle to do well.

When a westerner picks up a comic about Samurai, they'll think 'ooh! I like ninjas!' Your comic might actually stand a chance at hooking them, if the art style is western/manga fusion, and reads left to right.

When a manga reader picks up a manga format comic about American soldiers, it's much more likely they'll put it down in favor of something else. In general, western readers of manga read manga because typical western stories don't appeal to them.


What if my fusion style story could fit in both formats?

So you've written something that isn't so clear cut as the examples above. Maybe you've written a romance, or a slice of life? Now this can get tricky. You can look at it two ways.

Is your art more western, or is it more manga? If your art is more western, try a western page size. If your art is more manga inspired, go with a manga page size.

Your art isn't more western or more manga? Take a look at your work from a cultural perspective. Does your story have western cultural sensibilities? Or eastern? The cultural ideals in your story will give you a hint which page format to choose.


My comic isn't culturally western or asian, what do I do?

Is your story middle-eastern? African? In general, you'll find that a western page size will be more universally accepted. It's been exported more widely for longer, so this is the format people will expect to see.

If your story is written in a foreign language, you might want it to read the same direction as your language does. A right to left language is probably going to work best in a right to left comic. A left to right language will probably work best in a left to right comic.


Can I write a western format comic that reads right to left?

You can. But unless you're writing it in a right to left language, it probably won't do well. People don't expect a western format comic to read in that direction, and it can be very jarring. I really advise against it. That's not to say it can't be done, but making it work for your audience will be very difficult.


So what's the deal with large glossy magazine formats?

The large page size gives comic artists the space to be a lot more flexible with how they tell a story. The catch is that in print, this size is difficult for many comic book stores to stock, and tends to cost a lot more to make. This means your comic is expensive to buy, and because it takes up more space on a shelf, it's difficult to find a space for.

These glossy magazine formats could be the choice for you if your art style has an epic, wide vista kind of feel to it. Vast, detailed backdrops will have more space to really shine.

You might also choose this page size if your work has a very classical art feel. If your work looks like the classic painters' works, like Monet, or Da Vinci, this larger format again gives you space to show off, and because this size is closer to coffee table sized, you'll be more appealing to the classical art crowd.


I'm writing a webcomic, does my page size matter?

If you never want to make a printed version, no. If you might want to make a printed version, you need to think about page sizes before you start.
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Re: A basic guide to choosing a page size

Postby JoKeR » March 14th, 2012, 3:19 am

...hm

And if you draw your Comic/Manga big enough ...you can downscale the pages to every size you want.

Just sayin' ...
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Re: A basic guide to choosing a page size

Postby adrilahan » March 14th, 2012, 4:46 am

JoKeRcologne wrote:...hm

And if you draw your Comic/Manga big enough ...you can downscale the pages to every size you want.

Just sayin' ...


Uh, yes, somewhat. There's differences in the dimensions that can cause you problems with keeping your action within the trim margins though, adapting from one size to another.
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Re: A basic guide to choosing a page size

Postby JoKeR » March 14th, 2012, 5:12 am

Its not that dramatic if you keep in mind to include a sufficient bleed.
But yes ...if you want to draw your panels over the edge there can be a problem with different comic sizes.
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