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Monday, December 3, 2007

How To Write Comics: Addendum

In my previous post, I recommmended that beginning comic book writers check out screenplay writing books in order to get a feel of the different storytelling elements and the complexities involved in stringing a good and tight story together. After all, motion pictures (television or movies) are similar to comics in as far as the image+text connection goes.

However, comics writers should note that screenwriters operate on the premise that the finished product will involve motion, while comics involve static images. I have encountered a few scripts wherein the writer hasn't quite grasped the concept of stasis, thus rendering particular panels "undrawable."

To write comics stories, particularly full scripts (as opposed to plot breakdowns), writers need to visualize stories as a series of photographs, with each photograph capturing a moment of the story. As a rule of thumb, every character in a comics panel should be executing one specific pose, if not one specific action. To specify that "Character catches the granade and throws it back at the bad guys" in one panel is fundamentally undrawable, though the artist can draw the character twice in one large panel. This is one convention in comics storytelling that can break the one sction rule.

With that said, writers need to know and take advantage of the unique storytelling properties of comics, as well as avoid those properties unique to film.

Now the question is: plot breakdown or full script? I'm partial to the full script, because one of the most important parts of the process is editing, through the help of a good editor. With a full script, an able editor can spot typos, lapses in grammar and spelling, even storytelling hitches, that writers may not be able to see offhand. So as early as the script stage, the story can be meticulously fleshed out and refined.

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