Keith’s Comic Panels

Published by ShawnKinley on


A practice with endings

Keith Johnstone has a great little exercise for practising the art of ending scenes. 

He would hand out stacks of “comic panels” in workshops. Each panel contained 3 or 4 drawings, creating tiny completed stories from  Charles Schultz’s, Peanuts or Berkeley Breathed’s, Bloom County or similar styled cartoon.

The stories weren’t long and involved of course. They were crisp, efficient examples of beginning middles and ends.

IMPORTANTLY: each of the panels had the words erased on the final frame.

Without knowing the original ending, our job was to fill in the last panel. 

We would grab a random cartoon and write 3 or more possible endings for each panel in a limited time. The time limit ensured we wouldn’t be too precious about our ideas. Then, we would share them with each other if we wanted to. Everyone wanted to.

What did it do for us? It was liberating to do a lot of these at one time without worrying about making any one exceptionally good. And it was fun to see the ideas that other people created and how many of our ideas aligned in the circle of possibilities with the story. 

 Often, the student’s creations were more enjoyable than the original (Sorry Mr. Schultz).

An enjoyable exercise and valuable practice in seeing endings.


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