Most comic books (for reasons dating back to how large sheets of newsprint could be folded and trimmed most efficiently) have a page shape that’s roughly 2:3. Comic books are printed at about 9 inches tall by 6 inches wide, and therefore most cartoonists working slightly larger than final printed size will work on a 10 x 15 inch page area.
While I understand the convenience factor for retailers, who have displays designed specifically to accommodate this shape and size of book, I’ve frankly always bristled a bit at this adherence to these strict page parameters. At the very least, the idea that one should work on a 10 x 15 inch (as opposed to some other 2:3 ratio size) page is somewhat arbitrary, being based on a reduced bristol board size imposed by comic book publishers trying to save money on paper back in the day when artist would be issued bristol board by the publisher he or she worked for.
Anyway, my first book was called Farewell, Georgia, and in it I stuck to a self-imposed nine panel grid shape format. What I found from working on that book, though, was that I frequently struggled with panel shapes that seemed too tall and skinny to work compositionally. When I gave a pre-release version of the book to my friend Ted Stearn and asked him to critique it, he noted as well that I tended to “stack” things into the bottom of panels, at the expense of potentially more interesting compositions that lead the reader’s eye through the panel. With that confirming what I already suspected, I vowed that for my next book-length work I’d let the demands of the story dictate the page shape, not the other way around… and I’m really happy with the way it turned out.
I read the first two issues of Midnight Sun when they came out in comic form, and when I saw the smaller, square book I wondered if the new format would detract from my enjoyment of the rest of the story. It didn’t; if anything, the format enhanced it. Check it out at your local comic shop if you have the chance.