Comics are an inherently overlooked medium. I don’t necessarily mean that in the sense of cultural appreciation––we have the multi-billion dollar Marvel cinematic universe to prove that isn’t true––I mean as a reader reading comics. Being overlooked is the point, however. A thoughtfully crafted page layout naturally guides the eye from one panel to the next, causing your brain to not even notice that the images are static and, perhaps, nonsensical when taken out of context. Comics rely on the fact that a reader’s brain fills in the gaps between the panels––formally called gutters––with action and camera moves so that the next panel does make sense. Part of that trick is to give the reader just enough information to get the gist and keep moving. As you can guess, the artist can easily manipulate this to either slow down or speed up a reader, depending on what the story (or creator) demands.
As quickly as it takes to read a comic, the amount of work that goes into creating not only a book, not only a page, but a panel is painstaking (though, panel composition also involves a lot of instinct, too). Think of it this way: in a movie, a filmmaker gets twenty-four frames per second to show the viewer a single shot. Not to be patronizing, but that is, again, twenty-four still images in a single second of on-screen time. That’s 1,440 still images per minute of film. Furthermore, a shot in a movie can last a few seconds to a minute or two (or five or ten), which means thousands of still images could come together to show movement and progression of character and story. A panel is pretty much (with exceptions, of course) the equivalent of a single shot in a film. Again, not to patronize, but a panel is a single drawing.