One panel comics are short and to the point often absurd and pun-derful. With one panel comics, there is no waiting for the punchline and it often lacks a drawn-out narrative. One way to think about one-panels and strips is comparing it to literature formats: Strips are like novels whereas one-panels operate like short stories. While there are several comics like these floating around in the papers and online, two that stand out to me are Speed Bump by Dave Coverly and The Argyle Sweater by Scott Hilburn. Both of these comics have an absurd nature to them and take normal concepts and turn them upside down. For example, Speed Bump might take two concepts, a work vacation, and a sheep herding dog, and mash them together. The Argyle Sweater typically takes concepts, like online dating, and uses characters that seem out of place to act them out. I especially enjoy these two comics because they make you take a minute to figure it out. While they sometimes rely on dumb punchlines, they often make readers see the mundane in a slightly different light.
Other popular one-panels include The Family Circus, Bizarro, Rhymes with Orange, Cornered, and The Far Side.
With the internet and mobile phones gradually replacing newspapers, many comics have moved online. Some cartoonists have exclusively put their content online and have developed a large following. One of those artists is Doug Savage, creator of Savage Chickens. He uses chickens to talk about very human concepts and it certainly makes for an absurdly funny comic.
Not all one-panel comics need to be funny to be successful. Political/editorial cartoons are often limited to a single panel and use a splash of humor to comment on serious topics. Political cartoons are also usually a bit absurd.
From creating my own one-panel, I discovered that it’s not as simple as it looks. The concept needs to be simple and understandable to a large audience, and you need to deliver the punchline immediately. I first struggled to come up with a good subject, and then I struggled to find the right phrasing to fit it all in. I have a new found respect for all the one-panel artists out there.