Oblique Strategies for 4 panel comic strips.

Digging around through some old boxes of notes, instructions, ideas, images. Presenting these "oblique strategies" specific to 4-panel comic strips (and as such slightly literal sometimes):

  • no difference between panel 3 and 4
  • panel 3: a new character walks in.
  • one box is all words peanuts: "hey what're you doing with those pliers?"
  • 4th panel: report back to a new family member
  • reality wins out in panel 4
  • ask permission to do something already done
  • absurd answer to unsolvable problem calvin and hobbes: how to get quarter out of snow field? melt it with a drier
  • try to write as someone who doesn't love coffee
  • all empty panels
  • get what you want in panel 4 but work for it
  • use a famous folk tale but keep it under wraps
  • the way something feels
  • 1 panel or 2
  • something you saw on a meta-Garfield site
  • more Japanese: less joke, more (development) movement
  • compare 2 wildly different things Peanuts: school and prison (Sally: I'm still thinking!)
  • panel 4 is much much later
  • what is the silent gesticulating person talking about?
  • panel 4 disproves panel 3
  • the difference between panel 2 and 4
  • the (character's) physical limitations make for a bizarre finale
  • traditional character tries something traditional with nontraditional materials example: charlie brown kicking a hose (?)
  • Compare AND contrast
  • silent visual metaphor
  • someone else's visual POV
  • action described
  • something weird, later contextualized
  • everything is off panel
  • switch a role
  • stretch a character's strength (or weakness) and call him/her on it
  • keep characters not on the same page
  • funny picture for negative emotion
  • beg (or get cocky) for something you don't get in panel 4.
  • announce the climax early on
  • what can you censor? example: lauren's locker room (****) for bag of crap


perfect, thanks!
Brian Hagen said…
This is a great short-form analysis, Tom. I spend a lot of time (with Peanuts & Segar's Popeye) analyzing the character dynamics and the verbal strategies. Yours goes right to the basics of form and strip mechanics. Thanks!

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