I tend towards using a grid system for panel layouts, as I think it helps clarity of story telling and allows you to get a start on a page without getting too stuck on thinking about the blank page. Occasionally, I break this rule. When I do, it looks like this:
This is a page from the 86ers story ‘Grendel’ (c) Rebellion Development. For context, all proceeding pages and those that followed where strictly grid based. This page isn’t. Part of that was I wanted the dog fights to feel like they’re happening in Zero G – with the reader’s sense of balance thrown off by the panel borders, when there’s no up or down in the page, these panels could be straight on or at a dutch angle. The panel shapes and objects within them favour a zig zag style of reading. But, interestingly, not the normal left to right zig zag of comics but, rather a up down zig zag, allowing me to get some really long panels in there.
This is a slightly skewed grid. I’m not sure if it’s as successful as the previous page – in the sense that reading from panel one, my eyes slip out of it and onto panel 3. Here a plain grid may have been better.
More 86ers in space. This is, basically, a slightly skewed grid panel. So It’s hardly off grid. Next!
I think this page is a flash back to the previous page. Though this shows off a stylistic tic that I’ve been using recently (and by recently I mean very occasionally in the last few years) which is to draw a curved panel border for the bottom panel. I have no idea why that is, nor do I know why it seems to lend itself to some things and not others, but, at some point in the future, I’ll collect them and we can figure it out together.