In between panel and gutter: a creative exploration of panels and gutters in Manga storytelling

Fu, Chung-Su
Ho, King Tong
Clark, Simon
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Master of Art and Design
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Auckland University of Technology

This project investigates how panels and gutters can be creatively reconstructed within a page to reinforce the nature of a narrative in the context of manga. The work experiments with the visual communication of emotions and meanings through symbolised manga panels, gutters and their interactions in relation to the symbolic strategies used in manga storytelling.

Panels and gutters are fundamental components of manga storytelling and in certain genres they have been developed to become important elements contributing to meaning. For example, Paul Gravett (2004) has studied girls’ comics and suggests that “they give the panels whatever shape and configuration best suit the emotion they want to evoke” (p. 78). This project explores the concept of “denotation1” to transform panels, gutters and pages to create connotative meanings.

In addition, using Kenya Hara’s (2007) idea of “emptiness” (p. 241) as a conceptual approach, the experiments further build up a particular visual strategy of manga storytelling, ranging from the generation of emotions, to creating particular connotations to influence the readers’ perception of, and imaginings about, the story.

The outcome is a short story in the form of manga which applies this developed visual strategy to explore the use of symbolic panels, the imaginative space of the gutters and alternative approaches to page design. The constituents of this project are 80 percent practice‐based work, accompanied by 20 percent exegesis as a complement.

Comic , Graphic novel , Panel , Gutter
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