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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Use Patience Towards Your First Comics Anthology

After holding a seminar on making comics a few years ago, a guy approached me and told me of his comic book idea. He wanted to make an epic series that involved politics, terrorism, and high-octane action. I remember him saying that his series would be very relevant.

Based on his appearance, he looked like someone who was in the middle of a college degree. I asked him if he had started his story, and he answered, "No."

This seems to be the problem with some aspiring comics creators. All ideas, no action. Their minds are brimming with concepts, but no script, not even an outline to show for it.

There isn't anything wrong with wanting to create a major epic, that monumental masterpiece that would carve itself a niche in the annals of comics history. But as Heather Sellers explains in her insightful book Chapter After Chapter, aspiring writers cease to start the engines because they get overwhelmed by the thought of what their creation should be. And we're all familiar with the line, "This comic book of mine is gonna be kick-ass!" They're already thinking ahead of themselves, so that by the time they sit down to write they've already prevented the writing juices from flowing. Their subconscious is saying, "Your idea is kick-ass, but can you actually write and draw kick-ass comics?"

If you haven't made a comic book in your life, start small. Give yourself a month to do an eight- to twelve-page one-shot story. The kind that begins and ends. After that comics piece is done, do another one the following month. Try different approaches with each work. Find the style you're comfortable with. Fix whatever you feel needs fixing. Get feedback.

By the end of six months, you would have made six stories. After a year, twelve stories. Not bad if you think about it. By this time, you would have already set your groove. But never be complacent because there's always room for improvement. You can post your stories on the web and ask strangers to go over your work. Since your stories are short, readers will be more comfortable reading through them.

After that first year, up the ante. Research more, try more techniques, and nail those tricks you're comfortable with. Do six one-shot stories on the second year, one every two months, with each story having 16 to 24 pages. On the third year, do four stories of 24 to 36 pages. This whole period will help you test and develop your endurance, as well as solidify your writing and drawing style.

Just imagine: after three years you would have 22 comics stories of varying lengths. Based on the feedback you get, you can choose ten of the best, fix whatever you feel needs some improvement, and publish your first comics anthology.

On your fourth year, gun for your first four-issue limited series. Or better yet, your first 100-page graphic novel.



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