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Beat Panel
XKCD's parody of Achewood sets the record for number of awkward-pause panels in one strip (previously held by Achewood).

THEY WERE *CRUCIAL* TO THE JOKE
Yelling Bird, Questionable Content

A silent panel in sequential art. Usually the next-to-last panel in a serialized comic strip, since it approximates the comedic pause before a punchline.

Particularly efficient comic artists may copy and paste adjacent panels, since the point of the Beat Panel is usually that the characters are frozen in contemplation. Another variation is to have two beat panels, with just a quizzical change of expression in the second to show a character's confusion (more likely to happen in a four-panel strip than a three-panel strip). It can also be unusually long to indicate a long beat.

Compare Silent Scenery Panel. A Beat is the (un)spoken version.


Examples

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     Anime and Manga  

  • The manga of Azumanga Daioh uses these a lot, often at the end of the comic when the gag is a lack of action. These usually translate to (often hilarious) stretches of awkward silence in the anime. One of the more memorable ones:
    Panel 1: Chiyo: Oh, Sakaki, you're here already! It'll be an hour before the others get here!
    Panel 2: Sakaki: It's okay... I'll wait outside... with Mr. Tadakichi...
    Panels 3 and 4: (The same image of Sakaki, perfectly content, sitting under a tree with Mr. Tadakichi)
    • An example of how they translate this: in the anime, during the same scene, the camera stays focused on Sakaki as every other main character walks into Chiyo's house.
  • Hentai manga Witchcraft uses this to great comedic effect. Kagami is trying to get Kaoru to relax so she can effectively hypnotize him (Mildly NSFW text):
    Kagami: Well, the easiest way is that relaxed state right after ejaculation. All right, ejaculate.
    Kaoru: Right...
    (Beat Panel)
    Kaoru: ... ... Ejaculate?
    Kagami: Yes.
    Kaoru: You mean where it ... squirts out?
    Kagami: That's right. Now hurry up.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist gives you what might be the cutest example ever.
  • Happens in Corsair manga, where the princess of a powerful pirate group finally announces to her family that she intends to wed their mysterious and very pretty strategist, Kanale (or Canale... Or Kanare... take your pick). Cue their right-hand master swordsman, Ayase, who rarely shows any emotion at all, speak the following:
    Ayase: I never said I approved (of you choosing Kanale). In fact there's another problem before all this: Kanale already belongs to me.
    • ... The silence goes on for multiple panels.
  • There's one early on in the Battle Royale manga. Shuya asks Noriko how she can trust him so easily. She says "You didn't peek at my panties." Cue the ellipsis and possibly the only funny moment in the story.
  • Lone Wolf and Cub probably sets a record. The last chapter contains the same Beat Panel eight times across multiple pages. It underscores how dramatic the moment is; the implication is that the moment was practically endless for all watching.

     Comic Books  

  • Christopher Priest (comics) might well be the Trope Codifier. Quantum and Woody, Black Panther, and pretty much everything else he wrote were rife with beat panels. The impressive thing was that as often as he used them, they never got stale or overdone; he knew exactly when and where to use them.
  • The Keith Giffen/J. M. DeMatteis comedy incarnation of Justice League used this all the time, sometimes featuring entire Beat Pages.
    • J.M. DeMatteis's run on Spectacular Spider-Man featured a beat page - but it wasn't funny, rather it was one of the creepiest pages ever seen in a comic book.
  • Used excessively in Invincible, then Lampshaded when the main character gets his comics signed by an artist who comments on his use of copying and pasting panels.
  • In the comic Teen Titans, after Beast Boy asked Raven to go with him on a "not-a-date", there was a beat panel before Raven said "Let's go".
  • In an Invincible Iron Man issue, Pepper Potts admits to Maria Hill that she slept with Tony. A shocked Maria Hill admit that she also slept with Tony a few days before Potts. Follows a succession of panel with both looking shocked, each at each other, and then each looking down, visibly angry. After that, Hill mutters a simple "Tony Stark. Tony fucking Stark.
  • One of the traditions of a super team crossover is having a few B-List (Or even) major villains crash the headquarters seeking revenge, then a beat panel as they realize there are quite a few more super heroes than they expected.
  • Peter David enjoys regular use of these. The Madrox mini-series contained a number of examples.
  • In Scott Pilgrim, Scott asks Wallace what the website for Amazon.ca is. Wallace gets his beat panel with a dumbfounded look and a series of ellipses and responds ".... Amazon.ca".
  • Life in Hell occasionally uses these to an extreme. Matt Groening refers to these as "all those Akbar and Jeff strips where they stare at each other." Keep in mind there were often dozens of panels to a page.
  • During the Joss Whedon run on Astonishing X-Men, the morning after Peter Rasputin and Kitty Pryde finally make love, they meet with Wolverine in the kitchen. Two beat panels follow; one where Wolverine looks at Peter, and one where he looks at Kitty. He then returns to his breakfast, muttering, "'Bout time."
  • Two separate pages of these in the Twilight Sparkle Micro Series issue, indicating the awkward silence between Jade and Twilight during their meals.
  • Kevin Maguire specializes in multi-panel closeups of characters trying not to break down in laughter.
  • A noticeable, though not exactly comedic, example occurs in The Wicked And The Divine. Annie tells the cops not to follow her, immediately turns into Badb and threatens them, and then dissolves into crows. After that happens, everybody stares at where she was standing for a moment before a total riot breaks out.

     Newspaper Comics  

  • Pretty much every comic has used this at some point. It's been around since the early days of comics, but it really took off in the 60's and 70's, when a new generation of cartoonists raised on films and television sought to make their comics more cinematic. Doonesbury is often credited with popularizing the beat, and it remains one of the most frequent users of this trope.
    • A comic strip by David Lynch was almost entirely made up of beat panels. The same ones. For ten years.
  • Herman used this panel often, and sometimes so many at once that only one panel had any dialogue in it.
  • Interestingly, The Far Side occasionally pulled this off in a one-panel strip. The visual was some awkward situation, while the punchline came in the caption.
  • Discussed as well as demonstrated in this Barney And Clyde strip seen here.

     New Media  

     Video Games  

  • The World Ends with You due to it's manga like cutscenes is a rare Video Game example. The game has this exchange in week three with several Beat Panels
    Beat: We ain't treading on thin ice! Shibuya's not cold enough for ice!
    Uzuki: .....
    Kariya: .....
    Neku: .....
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has quite a few moments where everyone sits in silence after what the witness has just said.
    Phoenix: .....
    Edgeworth: .....
    Judge: .....
    Everyone Else: .....

     Webcomics  


    Born in the Funny PapersBriffits and Squeans
WebcomicsSequential ArtConfused Question Mark
Baby FactoryImageSource/Web ComicsBrick Joke

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