Comic Book / Comics

What Is the Space Between Comic Book Panels Called?

Have you ever wondered what that empty space between comic book panels is called? It’s not just a blank void, but an important element that contributes to the overall storytelling and pacing of a comic.

In the world of comics, this space is known as gutters. Gutters play a crucial role in defining the passage of time, creating suspense, and allowing readers to fill in the gaps with their own imagination.

The Purpose of Gutters

Gutters are essentially the empty spaces between panels that separate one moment from another. They provide a visual break and act as a pause or transition point for readers to process what they have just seen before moving on to the next panel. The size and shape of gutters can vary significantly depending on the style and layout of the comic.

The purpose of gutters goes beyond just providing a visual break; they also allow for temporal transitions between panels. By leaving out specific moments, creators can manipulate time and pace within a story. For example, a small gutter may suggest an immediate transition or quick action sequence, while a larger gutter could indicate a longer passage of time or change in location.

The Impact on Storytelling

Gutters play an essential role in comic book storytelling by allowing readers to actively engage with the narrative. By leaving certain actions or events unseen within the gutters, creators invite readers to fill in those gaps using their own interpretation and imagination. This involvement creates a unique interactive experience that sets comics apart from other forms of media.

In addition to temporal transitions, gutters also impact the rhythm and dynamics within a comic. The size, shape, and placement of gutters can affect the flow of reading, emphasizing certain moments or building suspense. For instance, a series of narrow gutters may create a sense of urgency or fast-paced action, while wider gutters can slow down the pacing, allowing for more contemplation or reflection.

Creating Visual Hierarchy

Another important aspect of gutters is their contribution to the overall visual hierarchy and composition of a comic page. Gutters help separate panels from each other, preventing visual clutter. They create clear boundaries and allow each panel to stand out individually, making it easier for readers to follow the story.

Gutters can also be used strategically to emphasize certain panels or moments. By adjusting the size or shape of a gutter, creators can draw attention to specific panels and guide the reader’s focus. This technique is often employed during dramatic or pivotal moments within a story.


Gutters are not just empty spaces; they are an integral part of comic book storytelling. They contribute to the overall flow, pacing, and rhythm of a comic while allowing readers to actively engage with the narrative.

By manipulating gutters, creators can control the passage of time and create suspenseful or reflective moments within their stories. So next time you pick up a comic book, take a moment to appreciate the power of those seemingly blank spaces between panels!