(Being another post in this vein.)
In a famous (and surprisingly controversial, for reasons I will tackle later in the week) section of Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud defines the act of moving from one panel, through the gutter (the white space between panels), and into the next as "closure." Unlike film, in which closure is made unconscious by the persistence of vision and the limitations of our perceptual apparatus (such that twenty-four frames per second is automatically perceived as motion), closure in comics is a collaborative effort between author (or artist) and reader. Take a scene in which one person threatens to shoot another:
What happens (at least in my tweaked-for-maximal-classroom-efficiency sequence) between the second and third panel there? Put differently: in order to achieve closure between the second and third panel, what do Moore and Gibbons compel the reader to imagine in order to make the transition through that gutter make sense? The answer, of course, is that they force the reader to imagine murdering a pregnant woman. That is, they make the reader a silent accomplice to the Comedian's crime per McCloud:
Just in case the awful complicity of the reader failed to sink in, McCloud draws himself hugging his knees in a dark corner (and undoubtedly near tears behind his grandma glasses):
Students absolutely loathe the possibility that McCloud might be correct. They claim they are the victims of a sick manipulation on the part of the author; that they were tricked into imagining this terrible crime and therefore aren't culpable; that they never knowingly sin in their hearts unless someone forces them to do so; etc. I then show them the omitted panel:
And after they express how much better they feel for not being an accomplice to a fictional murder, I ask them why witnessing a crime is better than imagining one and we turn to a slightly more thematic discussion of Dr. Manhattan's culpability here. But they remember McCloud's point, which was why I implicated them in the Comedian's crime in the first place.