I'll get to the exercise in a day or two, but I'd like to throw something out there. First off, another great article that had me thinking about things I didn't even realize I *could* think about, let alone want to think about.
Secondly, elements in a panel, slowing down the reader. I'm assuming the bigger panels will usually have more elements, more beats to them than smaller panels, understandably so. And I'm assuming major points in the story, focal points you wanna drive home to the reader (which for me, will also probably be the bigger panels of a page) could benefit from adding multiple elements / beats, to keep the readers eye on that one image you hope to ascentuate.
I did this without even realizing it in one of my scripts a few days ago. I have a wide open shot of a guy walking down a road in a zombie infested city. It's a closeup of the guy, with the road / zombies / corpses in the background, and I wanted to ascentutate his loneliness and the desolation. I had one or two narrative captions, and I had him holding an axe in one hand and a bottle of hard liquor in the other (both are theoretically elements, added beats to the single image, in that it takes time for the eye to examine which each hand is holding, in this case to read the label of the liquor to know it's liquor and not just some bottle of water).. And driving home this "loneliness" I added another element to the axe; A sticker on it that reads, 'Hello, my name is: Killin' Jill.' So no only do you see desolation, a single man, axe and alcohol in hand, but after reading the dialogue, your eye goes BACK to the bottle to read it's label, and back to the axe to read about the guy's sense of humor.
And these seemingly non-time related aspects add to the overall time a reader will spend on this single panel. Adding things in the background, signs, words on cars, anything you can read, logos, all that (Bomb Queen does a great example of this, in the backgrounds of the city), adds to the time a reader will spend on any given panel. And the time won't ONLY be for examining arbitrary background information, cause the whole time, as your eyes are panning around, from apparent arbitrary detail to meaningless detail, the foreground, and whatever is happening in it is constantly reminding you where we are.
Which brings me back to my panel; If I want to ascentuate desolation, despair, and loneliness, adding in beats to the panel may drive home the intended message and remind the reader exactly where we are in this particular story. Woohoo.
But that all said, I haven't done the exercise as I gotta go to bed. Gah, curse you working overnights. I hopefully will try it out tomorrow or the next day. This one seems a bit rough. The idea of constantly adding more and more into a panel. Eek.