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<   No. 1840   2008-02-09   >

Comic #1840

1 Adam: I can't see the bottom of this crater.
1 Jamie: I wonder what's down there.
2 Adam: Only one way to find out.
2 Jamie: It could be dangerous.
2 Adam: It could be interesting.
3 {They peer into the hole}
4 Jamie: You first.
4 Adam: After you.

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I try not to use the silent penultimate panel too often. Really I do. It's a cliché, and I don't like to use it if I can avoid it. Honestly.

I originally wrote this comic with panels 2 and 3 swapped, so the silent panel was the second one, not the third.

I had every intention of displaying it that way. Look, I even made it that way; here it is:

Comic 1840a

But, as you can see, it's just not as funny. It simply doesn't work as well.

Timing is an important part of comedy. The essential part, according to many authorities. The pause is an important piece of making something humorous. And the simplest way to indicate a pause in a comic is a silent panel.

I go out of my way to avoid using silent penultimate panels. There are many strips I've created in recent weeks that I could have done that way, but that I didn't. I did something else to indicate the pause, or to pull in the funny. I've done it consciously and deliberately, in many cases changing a script that originally called for a silent penultimate panel.

In this case, however, the power of the pregnant pause defeated me. But at least I succumbed for a worthy cause. This gag is just better this way.

2018-09-26 Rerun commentary: I checked the original forum discussion thread for this comic to see if anyone disagreed with my assessment and thought that moving the penultimate beat panel to an ante-penultimate beat panel actually improved the joke. Nobody did - everyone basically agreed it was best placed as the second last panel for the timing reasons I explained above.

One poster, annachie, did suggest an alternative formulation for this strip without any beat panel at all:

alternate comic, no beat panel

I'm not sure if I interpreted the suggestion exactly the way it was intended, but it seems amusing enough.

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