Comic strips have a unique relationship with time. Action alone might unfold slowly in a comic strip. For example, if the characters are out for a stroll, the cartoonist has up to four panels to depict the process. The characters can be drawn walking over hill and dale, and readers might assume this activity covers a half hour or more. However, if the creator introduces dialog, things slow down considerably. For further example, if Arlo and Janis are on a walk, as they often are, and Arlo says something, Janis responds, and this exchange hopefully leads to a snappy punchline. Badabing! This action, in real time, would take no longer than the time it takes the reader to read the comic, perhaps less if he is a slow reader.
When true conversation is introduced, things can slow down to a crawl. If Arlo and Janis are seated around the kitchen table discussing a weighty situation, it can take a week to have a dialog that, in reality, would last maybe 10 minutes. Readers are tempted to think, “They’ve been having this conversation for days,” when in reality they’d have been talking over one cup of coffee. Keep this in mind as you read the current Arlo & Janis strips.