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In a comic, one way to produce a humorous suspense or simply signal that something doesn't exactly go as expected in a conversation, is to show several copies of the same panel successively.
The dialogue may go on and external details may change, but the characters, or at least one of them, will not move an inch. Their position and expression will be a literal copy and paste.
This conveys a feeling of stoic disbelief, utter cluelessness or mere indifference from one or more of them, from which Hilarity Ensues. The conversation where this happens usually doesn't go anywhere.
In comic strips, the Identical Panel Gag will either precede the punchline or be the punchline itself. In some cases, the entire strip can even be made like this.
A variant can be to draw identical panels not successively but separated by different panels, by pages, or even by volumes for a Brick Joke effect. Another variant is to repeat the construction of a page or panel (such as the placement or expressions of characters) to exactly miror a previous one.
Beat Panels can resort to it. Some Cut and Paste Comics rely entirely on this, although it can be out of laziness or to save time. This trope is for when the repetition is used deliberately for comic effect.
- Done for these glue ads. The glue is so strong that there is no difference between before you broke the vase and after you fix it.
- Used when Ichigo wants to transform into a Shinigami to go and save Rukia... before realizing he has no way to do so (Rukia has the transforming glove and the Soul Candy is inside Kon).
- Also invoked during Hiyori's introduction to Orihime and Sado, where she smacks Shinji each time he interrupts her. Identical panels are used to highlight Shinji's worsening condition as well as Chad and Orihime's reaction.
- Done in D.Gray-Man during the brief flashback with Mana. A dialogue between a clown-hating Bratty Half-Pint and a clown who doesn't exactly have all his head can lead to this.
- In Code:Breaker, Kanda suggests feeding a puppy with onions. And sake. (See the page image.)
- The first pages of the two fights between Aoki and Papaya in Hajime no Ippo both have a rigorously identical panel layout and an identical pose for Aoki. So are the pages where Aoki takes the "Coconut Punch". The two fights are dozens of chapters apart.
- In the later chapters of Dragon Ball, Trunks and Goten repeatedly attempt fusion with varying results. The reaction panels are the exact same to the point that Kuririn calls Akira Toriyama himself out on it. For his part, Toriyama appears as his Author Avatar to tell the comic's publisher he doesn't need to pay for the repeated pages.
- Eiji Masuda, author of My Monster Secret, is a master of this. He will often use the "mirror pages" variant to accentuate the absurdity of the situations or the way they end up the same way multiple times despite the characters' efforts. The most extreme example comes with Chapters 80 and 81: Both feature a Love Confession, but while Ch.80's is serious and a Wham Episode, Ch.81's is entirely comedic since the pervvy member of Those Three Guys is confessing his feelings...to another guy, who's been pretending to be a girl because the other guy has been plying him with gifts and free food. The disconnect is greatly enhanced by using the exact same layout in the two chapters, only replacing the characters involved.
- The series also flips the serious/comedy axis to show development. Chapter 10 has main characters Asahi and Youko going to an amusement park together, but it's mostly Played for Laughs (Youko was trying to set Asahi up with someone else, but she never showed so they just hang out together as friends). In Chapter 69 they return to the park, except this time it's obviously a date despite the fact that neither of them can admit their feelings, especially since Youko is trying to follow in the footsteps of her parents' high school romance by re-creating one of their dates, and it ends with her kissing Asahi as they leave the Ferris wheel since that was where her parents shared their first kiss. The first pages of the two chapters are an almost exact copy-paste, text and all (Art Evolution notwithstanding).
- One page of Hero Squared is a nine-panel grid of Milo in the exact same pose.
- Hilariously lampshaded in one page◊ of Invincible featuring a comic book artist talking about reusing panels.
- Twice in Preacher: the first with Herr Starr pondering his new cranial scar◊, the second exploring the many possibilities to hide it◊.
- Parodied in one strip from Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin talks about how his grandfather complains that modern comic strips are "nothing but a bunch of xeroxed talking heads". Every panel in the strip is the same two-shot of Calvin and Hobbes, with only the speech bubbles changing. (On closer inspection, there are enough tiny differences to show that each "identical" panel was actually drawn separately.)
- This happens inadvertently in Garfield Minus Garfield strips since Garfield is removed from the panels. Granted, when this happens normally, it's a conscious decision to reuse valuable panel space.
- The German rororo Rotfuchs book series for kids always had a comic with the eponymous red fox on the backcover. In one comic, the crew bitches about repetitive pop songs by lazy artists (in this case "Born in the USA"... justified or not). To throw in a bit of gratuitous Hypocritical Humor, the panel (almost) repeats.
- The VG Cats love to do this. This notably happens just before Aeris's Atomic F-Bomb.
- One series of panels in Sluggy Freelance shows someone demonstrating what it would be like to get stuck in timeless space. It's a few dozen frames of the character not moving. One in the middle shows him looking at the camera.
- Cyanide & Happiness does this in nearly every single comic.
- Every installment of Dinosaur Comics consists of the same six panels, with different dialogue and captions.
- El Goonish Shive:
- M9 Girls! does it every once in a while: For example, here to depict how exciting really is to work in a genetics lab, and here to convey Any's time-freezing powers.
- The Order of the Stick. The separated-by-a-few-pages variant:
- When the Azurite fleet is fighting against sea trolls, after defeating them once, Hinjo and Elan unwittingly dump them overboard, unaware that scrags regenerate when in contact with water. The panel where the trolls board again and attack anew is identical to the one of the first assault two pages earlier.
- During a battle against frost giants, Haley gets slammed against the floor with a greataxe wielded by a giant cleric. Next page, she gets slammed again, and beyond a minor detail (the giant now having Mind-Control Eyes), the panels are identical.
- A bittersweet version in Leif & Thorn, with a view of Leif's hospital room. The repeated scene doubles as a Silent Scenery Panel.