Closure in comics

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Closure in comics is the "phenomenon of observing the parts but perceiving the whole" (McCloud, pg. 63). In other words, closure is the act of mentally filling in the gaps of what we observe, thus allowing readers to comprehend the action and meaning between two seemingly unrelated panels. The reader observes two separate panels and mentally pieces together what happens in between them, even though there is no panel containing what actually happened in between. Closure in comics is why comics falls under the category of cool media: Comics requires the reader to be constantly interacting with visual aspects and filling in the gaps between them, whereas in film (a hot medium), two actions are connected visually by the medium itself, rather than mentally by the user, creating a seamless effect.

In the book Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud has specified the different types of closure, depending on the various methods of page distribution, as follows:

1. Moment-to-moment

Like movies or television, the same character is displayed from panel to panel developing one action. Here little closure is needed since the action is continuous and not much is happening between panels.

2. Action-to-action

The same character appears throughout the panels but with this method, two different actions are carried out. This requires more closure since there usually are gaps while illustrating the two actions.

3. Subject-to-subject

This is like the shot/counter-shot in film. Two characters are part of the same scene. They could be talking to each other or just sharing a space or situation. This requires a certain level of closure, since this illustration can represent a long period of time, omitting actions.

4. Scene-to-Scene

This connection among panels indicates leaps in time and space, although it is often required that the panels are part of the same narrative. This requires a great deal of closure by the reader, because of the large jump in space and time.

Eg. Panel 1 Batman “ Oh Robin is being kidnapped” Panel 2 Robin with Poison Ivy Panel 3: Batman saves Robin What happened in between? Closure.

5. Aspect to aspect

"Bypasses time for the most part and sets a wandering eye on different aspects of a place, mood, or idea." (McCloud). High level of closure.

6. Non-Sequitur

Panels with no logical relationship. This requires the most active participation of the reader because it asks for a high level of closure.


  • McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper Perennial, 1994.