Standardization of the Comic

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The Sandman breaks away from the standard panel layout.

Perhaps the three most widely recognizable characteristics of the comic strip are panels, text bubbles, and serialized stories (Wussner 2010). As more artists began integrating these elements into their graphic storytelling, a community arose around the commodity of comics, comic strips, comic books, and eventually the graphic novel. Even as Eisner and McCloud codified the genre, others began testing it. Comic writers such as Alan MooreNeil Gaiman, and Mike Carey wrote new storylines that encouraged their artists to think outside the panel box and experiment with full and partial-page layouts. These experimental layouts pushed the boundaries of the comic and took on new significance as the complexity of artwork and storytelling increased. Comic books and graphic novels became increasingly self-reflexive and drew on many of the meta-narrative techniques so popular in postmodern literature. 

In addition to developing increasingly complex art work and narratives, comic artists also began drawing on the classics of speculative fiction in order to engage audiences. Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (TLOEG), for example, draws heavily from such works as Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, Stoker's Dracula, Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Wells' The Invisible Man, and Verne's Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea. In fact, all of the main characters from TLOEG come from the annals of literature. In this way, Moore not only underscores the validity of the comic book as a literary art form, but he invokes the imagination inspired by these earlier texts. His comics manage to engage a more sophisticated reader, while inspiring younger audiences to pick up the classics.