As of now, I haven’t actually written a comic strip; it’s on my to do list (I have started to think up some ideas, though). But the one thing I have done is read a shit ton of comics—and I feel that does give me a bit of insight on what you need to do to make a good comic.
This article isn’t about how to come up with comic stories—but that’s obviously important. No, this is more along the lines of how to set up your comic and the different techniques you can use.
Step One: Figure Out Your Writing Style
One of the most important things you must try to figure out is what kind of script writing style you want to use. The two main ways you can go about this involve writing out a full comic script, with the difference being how you want to transfer each page of script to the comic book format.
The first way is breaking down what happens panel to panel so the artist knows what you want them to draw. This can help if you have a certain vision in mind or have an idea for a storytelling device you’d like to try: like doing flashbacks, starting with the ending and working your way to the beginning, or even time travel.
There are many different ways you can tell a story via comic book format. And it’s very important to break it down to the artists in a way they will understand. Just make sure you don’t get too bossy; that’s no good for anyone.
The other way you can figure out what style works for you is to simply give the artist an idea of what you’re looking for, and then let them go crazy on how they want to do it. This is a very relaxed approach that can border on laziness. So, be careful.
This method may only work with certain artist and depends on the artist strength of conveying a basic idea into visual storytelling. I think the way to get the best product is a mixture of the two. After all, if the artist is doing all the work what do they need you for?
Step Two: Listening to Your Team’s Ideas
Something you’ll have to get over is the fear of having other people handling the precious little baby you call a story. Comics are by far the most collaborative medium there is, and that means some changes may occur during the production of the comic. Sometimes the people you work with can even come up with an idea you didn’t think of—which might make the comic better.
If done right, the collaboration process of making a comic will be smooth and a lot of fun. Just remember, as a writer, you need to check your ego at the door and listen to other’s opinions and ideas.
If you’re too controlling and refuse to change anything or listen to other ideas—even if you think your story is gold—chances are pretty good the final product will suck ass. If a lot of people are telling you certain ideas don’t work or need changed, you’re most likely the one in the wrong—not them.
Step Three: Find The Right Artist
But before you even get to the creation process, you must find the best artist for your comic. It can take a lot of time to find the right person to bring your story to life—which might get pretty frustrating. Besides the money aspect, (that’s the first thing that needs worked out between you and the artist, and don’t be cheap or haggle them down) the most important thing is finding an artist who’s the right fit for the feeling and tone of your story.
For instance, if the story is a serious crime/noir, it’s probably best to have an art style that’s realistic and uses more neutral colors; an artist like Ren and Stimpy’s Bob Camp probably wouldn’t work. In that vein, if it’s a fantasy kind of story, you should try to find an artist who likes to draw some crazy shit. Which means a basic comic book artist most likely wouldn’t be able to convey your story the way you want. The art must fit with the kind of story you’re telling.
I’m not going to get into what you must do to get your comic published, but the one thing you need to think about is if you’re going to have it be in color or black and white—because that’ll also be a factor in the kind of artist you’d be looking for and how much money you’re going to spend.
I hope this article has helped you to put some thought into the kind of comic you want to make and how you might go about getting it done. I’m also interested in seeing if my thoughts and outlooks on this subject will change once I get around to writing a comic script. Either way, I might do a follow-up article on this subject to see how it goes. Until then, I’m going to keep on writing—as should you.
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