American Flagg #5 (2/1984), page 23 panel 3. Drawn by Howard Chaykin, lettered by Ken Bruzenak, colored by Leslie Zahler.
When you're swimming in the myriad delights of comics, it's easy to forget that there are things the medium can't deliver. The first of these is obviously motion -- a problem every artist has to solve for themselves. Depicting motion is so great a part of drawing comics that an artist's approach to it can often come to define their whole style. Think of Jack Kirby's hi-octane anatomical distortions, George Herriman's loose rushes of penstrokes, Robert Crumb's characters' severely cartooned gaits -- it's all motion, all designed so you can see the movements in your head if not on the page.
But the second thing comics don't have is a bridge much more rarely crossed: sound. Plenty of first-rate cartoonists have spent their whole careers making comics in which all that's audible is the dialogue in the balloons. When a masterful way of showing sheer noise emerges, it can be as striking as any fight scene.
This panel is a great example, as disorienting and undeniable a pure image as the feedback blast that it depicts -- it doesn't move, doesn't dovetail in any direction, it just sits there beaming energy out at the reader. It's also a wonderful collaboration, with Bruzenak's organically manipulated computer lettering screaming off the page and Zahler's swooning hue-explosions shocking the unprepared reader into submission. Chaykin's contribution, a haywire network of thin, crossed lines, is minimal perfection, speaking to the energy and stylized brutishness of his art as well as any of his more depictive panels. And let's not forget the sound effect itself: SCREEEEEAAAWWK isn't a sound anything in the real world makes, but in the best comic book tradition, it is instead an amplified approximation. Artistic pyrotechnics of the most graceful order imaginable. This panel, from its perfect showcasing of multiple artists' contributions to its elegantly murderous intent to its benday dots, is action comics explained in a single image, an entire world writ small.
Your Monday Panel is an ongoing series examining the building blocks of comics -- individual panels.