Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Okay, need a crash course in comic writing, pitching and publishing.
Downpour_guy at 1:29PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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I am thinking of getting into comic writing and I was wondering if anybody had some tips on this.

I cannot draw at all, so I'm going to need help on getting my story across to artists, how to approach them and how to pitch the story to them.

I write stories in novel or short story form, I have never published these as it is more of a hobby than a change to make money, but I see comic writing being fun, involving and also… profitable.

So, basically I would like to know the structures I would use to writing a comic script, how to write a pitch and how I would go about getting my work published.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
Skullbie at 3:14PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Great to see someone avidly interested in writing! :) You're in luck i have just the thing(s)

Learnin'
-understanding comics by scott mccloud-this is a great book that will put your whole perspective on comics inline. It's old but timeless, your library likely has it.

http://www.projectfanboy.com/vb/forumdisplay.php?f=79
^this guy knows what he's talking about, if you read any of my links, pick this one first. He talkes about formats, getting better, creative ideas, everything. The posts are out of order btw.

Pitching:
You're a writer, so you're not in demand. Mean right? We'll it's true, you're basically going to have to attract an artist but not give away your story for other writers to steal.
From looking at ‘collab’ section of comic forums you can see that;
a. unless you're paying people who act stuck-up/arrogant about their writing do not get replies
b.people who say ‘hi i’m a writer email me' with no genre details or summery do not get replies
c. unrealistic deadlines/unflexible people do not get replies

So it's safe to assume;
–Act friendly and excited about your project, list what genre of art you're looking for, include brief summary of your plot and characters, understand that without money you cannot really giv deadlines.
—pay money and none of this matters, you'll get replies.

More tips:
-Writing print comics is not the same as novel writing, you have a 22 page standard to fill and must include vivid details for your artist, and yet leave the panel design up to them.
-READ. Read. READ.Read books, read news articles, read things that are not comics. So many people try to learn comic writing from reading just comics, that's not going to help your writing. You must know how to read before you write.
-WRITE. write. WRITE. Go to wal-mart and buy some a 38c notebook and keep it with you, write story everyday, doesn't matter if you use it, just write and you will improve.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:47PM
Downpour_guy at 3:39PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Thanks, I've always loved writing and feel that I can express more in words than in any other way. And I suck at drawing.

This information is a big help.

Seems I'm going to have to take a step back from the standard of Novel writing to pick up comic writing.

If there's anymore information or tips, or any suggestions for books on this subject, I'm much obliged.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
skoolmunkee at 4:58PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Comics are a very dense form of writing. Pick up a comic and look at the average word count on one page- it's very small. It's a challenge even for comic writers to strip the story down enough to its essentials without also dumbing down the story. A good arist will know how to convey the writing's subtext, so you might want to provide an artist with extra notes etc beyond just the page text and general direction notes. If you are working with an artist and they come back to you saying ‘what you have written for this page just doesn’t work', listen to them.

Webcomics too are different from 22-page print books. In webcomics, every single page needs to have a payoff. A strong joke, a plot reveal, a new source of tension, etc. This can be very hard also, especially at the beginning when you need to establish the characters, their world, their situations, etc. Thousands of webcomics waste their first several pages on heavy-text ‘establishing’ rather than taking the time (and having the patience to let their comic reveal over time) to more skillfully get things rolling.


I can't give much advice on pitching or publishing, but I can tell you that the only webcomic people who have met with monetary and/or printing success are those who are completely unembarrassed about promoting their comic as often and as shamelessly as possible. All of them have had to be relentless in their pursuit of new eyes, sending their material to everyone they can think of, going to cons and trying to meet people face to face, etc. A lot of people aren't comforable with that, but from what i've seen, it's what you have to do.
  IT'S OLD BATMAN
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
Eirikr at 9:04PM, Jan. 27, 2009
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Always nice to see a writer here who actually seems to care about improving their craft.

Making comics by Scott Mccloud is another good one if you can't find the other book, as it covers pacing intensity, and such, but it's not as much of a help as the other one. Yeah, Skull offers some good tips.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:20PM
DrLuck at 2:11AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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skoolmunkee
Comics are a very dense form of writing. Pick up a comic and look at the average word count on one page- it's very small. It's a challenge even for comic writers to strip the story down enough to its essentials without also dumbing down the story. A good arist will know how to convey the writing's subtext, so you might want to provide an artist with extra notes etc beyond just the page text and general direction notes. If you are working with an artist and they come back to you saying ‘what you have written for this page just doesn’t work', listen to them.

Webcomics too are different from 22-page print books. In webcomics, every single page needs to have a payoff. A strong joke, a plot reveal, a new source of tension, etc. This can be very hard also, especially at the beginning when you need to establish the characters, their world, their situations, etc. Thousands of webcomics waste their first several pages on heavy-text ‘establishing’ rather than taking the time (and having the patience to let their comic reveal over time) to more skillfully get things rolling.


I can't give much advice on pitching or publishing, but I can tell you that the only webcomic people who have met with monetary and/or printing success are those who are completely unembarrassed about promoting their comic as often and as shamelessly as possible. All of them have had to be relentless in their pursuit of new eyes, sending their material to everyone they can think of, going to cons and trying to meet people face to face, etc. A lot of people aren't comforable with that, but from what i've seen, it's what you have to do.

To add onto this idea, many comic scripts end up being pretty decently long, not just the dialog. If you want an example, there are some professional comic writers that take an entire friggin' page just to explain what's going on in one panel. Of course, you don't need to be so detailed (chances are it'd make the artist pull their hair out), but make sure you tell the artist what's most important to convey when you're writing for them.

Also, a tip, if you're working closely with an artist on a comic, bounce ideas back and forth. It's more fun to talk to each other about the story rather than just assigning it to them. That, and you got another noggin filled with ideas, especially one from an artist perspective since they'll be the ones drawing it. They may come up with a script idea that conveys the message better than you original thought.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM
Downpour_guy at 10:17AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Wow, I thought I would get a lot of people telling me that I should go and learn to draw or be smarmy because they already have the know how.

This is a good response.

In response to Skoolmunkee, it sounds like a really interesting way to get a fan base. I myself would not have a problem approaching people one-on-one to get my comics known, I often do that for my writing, but it's more of a share scheme.

At the moment I hand my books to people I know, who then do the same to people they know and so on and so forth. Obviously, I own the rights to them so if they appear in a bookstore with another name on them, I can do something about it.

DrLuck, in response to your comment about working closely with an artist. Would this be held back if the artist where in a different country? Would it be more efficient if they were local, or at least within travelling distance?
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
Aurora Borealis at 10:46AM, Jan. 28, 2009
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skoolmunkee
Comics are a very dense form of writing. Pick up a comic and look at the average word count on one page- it's very small. It's a challenge even for comic writers to strip the story down enough to its essentials without also dumbing down the story.
It's kinda but that's what attracted me to writing comics. I never could write long enough to fill a novel no matter how hard I tried (ended up cramming a gigantic epic into roughly 100 pages, heh).

Downpour_guy
Wow, I thought I would get a lot of people telling me that I should go and learn to draw or be smarmy because they already have the know how.

You should go learn to draw :)
Just kidding of cuorse… but it's actually what I did (or rather I had to relearn to draw. Depending on how easy it is for you to approach people it might be easy or very hard to find an artist. Also, don't want to scare you away, but there are people who promise to draw for you and then disappear from the face of the planet for half year.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
Downpour_guy at 12:06PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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Aurora Borealis
You should go learn to draw
Just kidding of course… but it's actually what I did (or rather I had to relearn to draw.) Depending on how easy it is for you to approach people it might be easy or very hard to find an artist. Also, don't want to scare you away, but there are people who promise to draw for you and then disappear from the face of the planet for half year.

Ah, I'm aware of people who promise to do something and then delay it for good. I don't think I'm going to be the kind of person to wait longer than expected for someone to give me results.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
Skullbie at 12:25PM, Jan. 28, 2009
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The only reason you'd need to learn to draw is so you'll have better visual skills in communicating with your artist-you'd know that you don't need 5 narration bubbles explaining the page-because your artist drew it for you.

But if you really work at it you can learn to draw pretty well in a year, we're not talking pro level, just good.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:47PM
DrLuck at 4:11PM, Jan. 29, 2009
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Downpour_guy
DrLuck, in response to your comment about working closely with an artist. Would this be held back if the artist where in a different country? Would it be more efficient if they were local, or at least within travelling distance?

It doesn't matter how far away they are, now thanks to the age of the internet. I worked with a writer on a comic that lived quite a distance away from me, and what we'd do is that I'd show him concept sketches by uploading them and he'd look at them, and basically use a chat room to talk back and forth about it. It's actually kind of easier for me this way, being I can log the conversation and reference it whenever I need to.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:17PM
Aurora Borealis at 4:13AM, Jan. 30, 2009
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Abroad artists = usually lower page rates. I't good cause while you get a cheaper artist, they get to build their portfolio while getting paid for the work. But it is also bad, because the moment your artist achieves a certain level of quality, he can be easily snatched by a larger publisher that offers him a higher page rate. Now, I'm not trying to scare you away or anything as lots of writers hire artists from south america for example, but I've heard of people being left stranded with unfinished artwork cause the artist got snatched by someone richer.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM

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