Monday, June 30, 2014

Tips on Writing Comics

I've learned a lot about writing comics on my graphic novel project that is currently underway. I learn by doing, so I did. Below are some tidbits about comic writing. Perhaps this will become a series, perhaps not. Let see how I do...

  • Comic writing is an activity that centers around re-writing. Characters grow and change in ways unlike normal novels. In a traditional novel, characters undertake the "Hero's Journey," which is an archetypal path that develops the protagonist through a sequence of challenges, mental or physical. I'm convinced that graphic novels, comic books, and sequential animation operates outside of this preconceived norm. A character in a comic book undergoes multiple cycles of the Hero's Journey, therefore making the character layered. Catalysts for change need to be staggered and implemented intelligently, reflecting how the character grows. Therefore tasks are introduced as the character matures. This takes a lot of work to coordinate, so revisiting your characters is imperative. A novel depicts a static character changing in response to events. A comic depicts a dynamic character experiencing static events and developing in maturity in tandem. 
  • Structurally, I've had success with crudely thumbnailing my scripts before writing them. It helps me understand how the action takes place. Characters shouldn't be siting in one frame and standing in the next one. The thumbnail allows for the movement of a character to be captured in the scene. I've learned this by watching bad movies, which often make mistakes concerning the flow of action. Be conscious of what all your characters are doing in every scene, bottom line.
  • Comics concern lots of world building. That goes without saying. In fact, some of the best comics are so successful, because of the worlds that they boast. When I create worlds, my primary goal is making them completely cohesive. Worlds, here or otherwise, must be replete with customized jargon, locales, creatures, and physics. Consider a comic that takes place on another planet. Would a character say, "Hold on a sec!'" or "Wait a minute?" Probably not. A minute is a measure of time based on our heliocentric orbit around our particular sun. The words and expressions are embedded in cultural and society. Why would an alien civilization posses our exact measurement of time? These are the things that must be considered when building worlds. As Morpheus said in the Matrix, "You think that's air you're breathing now?"
These are but three things to consider when writing a comic. I think I'll revisit this next week and begin a series on it. If you enjoyed it, please, let me know!


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