The importance of last panels

A brief but major tip: I can't stress how much influence the last panel of each comic book page has over upholding the interest level of the reader. The last panel in each comic page can either excite and push the reader to turn--or bore the reader from turning to the next page. Much like how the opening sentence in a book needs to be captivating, the last panel has to be just the same (most of the time, anyway). While it's not entirely necessary as a rule to drawing and writing comic books, it certainly has the potential to really push the entertainment level--which is (hopefully) what you want. Therefore unofficially making it necessary. It doesn't matter if the panel shows big or small anticipation--as long as it's active and not passive. It's a tried and true method of storytelling in the comics medium; it never gets old.

I've listed two types of anticipation, each having their own group of examples. There might be more subcategories, but here are some basic ones:

Anticipation (big)
Action cliffhangers...
Dramatic Reveals...
Dramatic silence...

Anticipation (small)
Character moments (revelations, quotable dialogue, etc.)...
Important Questions...
Noticing something...

Comics exemplified:
Dragon Ball (1984 - 1995)
Skydoll (2000)
FLCL (2000 - 2001)
La Quinta Camera (2003 - 2004)
Yotsuba&! (2004 - ongoing)
Wet Moon (2004 - ongoing)
The War at Ellesmere (2008)
I Kill Giants (2008)
Spongebob (this issue is 2011)

(I've excluded web comics from the list because they rest in the hands of the last panel by default. A web comic needs them because of the length of time a reader has to wait before turning to the next page. Similar to a television episode.)


Action Cliffhangers
Fear, anger and laserbeamzzz

Dramatic Reveals

Dramatic Silence

Character Moments
"Character moments" are typically the last word of the scene, making them memorable quotes that define the character.


Sometimes rhetorical, but either way they reveal a piece of the plot.

Noticing Something
This is a pretty similar feel to a television scene cut when you turn the page.

Yeah, you get the point.
Use last panels to heighten the feeling of urgency, confusion, surprise, creepiness, etc. etc. etc.


  1. JESS, I'm really glad you posted this haha. Sometimes I feel like you should teach a class, I'd probably get more out of it than some of the classes I've had to take at school :X

  2. Oh man, thanks! But I think you are giving me too much credit, haha. You are right about AIB being unsatisfying, though.

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