When I first started drawing comics, I tried to draw every comic with a full (or almost-full) view of all the characters, full backgrounds, no cut-and-paste characters, and accounting for almost every minute of the characters lives.
I also, strangely, almost ever used the beat panel, or as some apparently call it, the Silent Penultimate Panel (SPP).
It’s been almost two years since I started drawing comics (December 14th being the anniversary) and a lot has changed. I still have to physically stop myself from drawing all of every character. I still draw fairly detailed backgrounds, but even I don’t know where the hell Lila’s desk is or why it’s surrounded by a sea of orange. My anti-cut-and-paste stance made it about 6 comics, and I do skip around a bit more in characters’ lives (because, really, walking around and stuff gets pretty boring).
March 27, 2005, was the first comic I posted where the empty panel didn’t just stand for the passage of time or a different camera view, but the first true “beat panel” I attempted wasn’t until April 29, 2006.
Even now I’m kind of torn on them. They take up a lot of space, comic-wise, and don’t accomplish as much, and I’m not sure I’m good enough a writer to really say that they’re effective when I use them. So I try to avoid them (though lately I’ve abused them a bit).
And maybe that’s a good thing, because today I found The Silent Penultimate Panel Watch, a blog specifically dedicated to display the abuse of beat-panels. Veeeeery eeenteresting. And definitely has me thinking more about my timing.