Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

what makes a good storyline?
jahn178 at 4:01PM, Aug. 24, 2008
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i am a new webcomic writer and i was wondering what makes a funny, comic, strip, storyline? This this is my comic below:

http://www.drunkduck.com/Life_on_the_I/
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:06PM
BlkKnight at 4:19PM, Aug. 24, 2008
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The key is to figure out the audience you want to cater to. Are you looking more at dumb humor, witty humor, randomness, etc.?
That's “Dr. BlkKnight” to all of you.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:26AM
JekHazit at 10:21PM, Aug. 24, 2008
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Parody humor is pretty funny, but most prefer it in videos. There is the random stuff that nobody likes. Theres the sex jokes. There is the strange overdone character that makes people somehwat laugh. Theres over using swears like in my comic.There is also embarassment. Thats all I can think of. Not much of a help because most of them arent to funny. My jokes come to me unexplainably.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:07PM
loam at 1:56AM, Aug. 25, 2008
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Work! Hard work!
While there certainly are these moments where this super-amazing ideas pop up in your head and just make for the best comic ever, usually, you'll have to work with rather ordinary stuff that easily ends up… well, ordinary.
In order to make it special, you'll have to work on your story-telling ability. That includes having the right amount of dialogue, especially working on your punchline since it's supposed to be the climax of the whole page, choosing your panels carefully according to the pace of your page and their content (size, amount, space between each panels), and of course your drawings, who should work well together and focus the reader at the very moment he looks at your comic.
So, basically, you'll have to work on your punchline, your dialogue, art, your dialogue-art relationship and the layout of your page. Don't be afraid to rewrite the same dialogue over and over again or draw the same picture 10 times.
Although I certainly understand that this procedure could make you feel uncertain of yourself because you think nobody else rewrites and redraws and relayouts, truth is: if you work in the creative business, you spend major amounts of your time with redoing something because your customer doesn't want “this hue of blue, it's too blue. Could you make it a little more greenish???”.

As time-consuming as this procedure is, it is the best way to improve. You might not see the results at the first glance, but as you go on, you'll see how your timing, story-telling and art increase, and that will affect your comics in a positive way.

However, don't forget to have fun! We all strive for improvement, but in the end we all started to draw comics because we had fun doing it. If you find yourself on a tight spot and don't enjoy doing the strip you're working on, take a break and do something else until you have the wish to continue that strip!

I really suggest you read Scott McClouds “Understanding comics” and Will Eisners “Theory of Comics and Sequential Art”, they are incredibly good reads and you'll certainly profit from it.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck, and hang in there ;) I'm looking forward to reading your comics.

Greetz,
Loam
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:38PM
Skullbie at 3:34AM, Aug. 25, 2008
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I've found If you have really unique interesting characters the story will write itself, be sure to have relatable ones though
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:46PM
cartoonprofessor at 8:39PM, Aug. 25, 2008
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Excellent points loam and Skullbie…

My comic began as a series of characters made up and described to students in my Cartoon Art Classes at Primary schools… mainly as a ‘vent’ for different human traits that annoyed me.

Then about 7 years ago I ‘bit the bullet’ and decided to make these characters into a never-ending series of adventures.

I had a general idea of the type of storyline I wanted; small guys take on big guys and win, but that was all.

The story made several starts, some even progressing to ink and one even to colour, before I settled on ‘The One’.

The ‘hero’ characters themselves went through many dozens of metamorphosis… from ‘dino-types’ to insectoids, to mammalians, to etc… at one stage they were seven, then three, then five, then three again, then finally two (a new one has just been introduced).

The story itself… I have a good idea of each stage for the first adventure, but it changes constantly, particularly in how the scenes change from one to the other. The humour pretty much comes as I write and draw, as the story progresses opportunities for humour simply present themselves, most pages have changed quite considerably from the intitial write to finished page as these opportunities have popped into my mind… some pages have almost been finished when an idea will pop into my head and demand a revision.

It's one reason the comic takes so long for me to do… three or more pages ahead are constantly at various stages and remain so sometimes for months while I go about day to day living. Then every now inspiration will hit me in the head like a brick and I will progress to the next stage.

To sum up, as long as you have a good idea of what you want to achieve with your story, allow it to brew and bubble for as long as it takes… don't rush it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
Tashna at 6:48AM, Aug. 26, 2008
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Hmm, there are different types of humor you can try out, depending on what audience you think your comic will attract, like BlkKnight pointed out.

Parodies. Take a bunch of prejudices and illustrate these, or take headlines from the news and make parodies out of these stories. People who are in touch with reality (aka. read/watch the news) will generally find this sort of thing amusing.

You can also write thought-out, advanced humor, but people without knowledge of the subject you're writing about will generally not get your jokes, and fanatics will be offended if you write about their ethnicity, country or religion.
Like, if you would have a guy who turns to stone every time someone calls him and makes him look behind him because his mother cursed him and told him never to look back, people who don't see the referral to this bible story where a woman turned to stone when she looked back at her destroyed city even though she was told not to by God himself (I'm not very well educated in Christianity, so I forgot the names of the characters, it was a story about God destroying a city because it's people had turned bad and worshiped different gods I thought) will probably put this under non-funny randomness. I'm a drama writer, so I suck at coming up with good examples.

There's also the randomness. While it might be funny in a parody, like the bestest comic ever or whatever this parody on terrible manga clichés and mary sues was called, it gets boring if you overdo it (try watching more than a hour of mastermovies (dutch blockbuster parodies)).

There's more genres you can choose from, like the aforementioned sex jokes, reversed reality settings, black humour (sadistic, mocking death and real emotions and such).

A real storyline is also important to keep people interested and keep them coming back, unless your comic consists of short strips, like the garfield comics.

It's lovely to see youfall off the stairs, breaking your skull in two.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:07PM
OrchardHeroes at 9:21AM, Aug. 27, 2008
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Another tip may be to look at what has worked. Not to say you copy successful stories, but look for traits and characteristics that may be part of a formula that create a great story. George Lucas studied the common threads of myths and legends to pinpoint common character types and personalities. Star Wars has a lot of common themes and characters that can be found in older tales.

Besides, its always fun to look into good quality stories, even IF they are old.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
lba at 8:58PM, Aug. 27, 2008
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A very important note if you're going to do a gag-a-day or joke strip:

Make sure that you have a genre and a focus you want to work with. I myself just quit working on a fairly long-running strip, because I found myself feeling like I wasn't really getting at what I wanted or talking in a way people would understand. In other words, I needed to stop and decide what my focus in humor and ideas was going to be. And until I decide a specific direction I want to go in, that comic is going to sit and wait.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
RuseBolton at 6:14PM, Sept. 1, 2008
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Depending on if you are making the strip for yourself (To get the warm fuzzys) or if your doing it for teh shear sensation of having people say “wow! this guy is awsome!” is the key.

Just for you - Base it off what tickled/tickles your ribs weather it be day to day bull, or something you thought was funny on the bus (Remember it's your strip & what you want to make it!)

For others - If it is for popularity's sake then find what makes you laugh & find out what typical demographic you are & cater for that demographic.

This is obviously just my opinion, but hey give it a shot… not like it can hurt…

last edited on July 14, 2011 3:12PM
Kiah at 8:42PM, Sept. 1, 2008
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There are huge differences between writing a 3-panel strip with the intent of telling a joke and writing a full comic book with humor as the intended result. First things first are to decide which you'd like to do. Personally, I find 3-panel strips to be best for humor but they force you to think differently, you have only 3 little panels to get your point across and that can be difficult.

Most comics, especially sunday ones in the newspaper, tend to have a ‘formula’. First panel is a set up “Hey, have you seen that new thing?” second panel is an action or move forward “That thing is ridiculous.” and the third panel is some form of resolution, generally the punch line. This is an easy way to write strips about anything, but it isn't particularly inventive. If you plan to break into doing 3-panel strips, you may want to start out this way and see how it goes to get the hang of it and then try to mix it up with elevated language and concepts and by surprising people with punchlines in other places as long as they work.

As others have said, always do it for yourself first, rather than with the intent of being popular. If you don't like what you've written, DO NOT POST IT. Go back and rework ideas until you've got it right! The more you do a comic, the easier it gets to write and the funnier it will be!

Hope it helps!

-K
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:15PM
warefish at 4:13AM, Sept. 3, 2008
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Plot twists! Lots and lots of plot twists! Ideally the type of twists or revelations that make you think “Oh my god! That is just downright genius!!!”.

last edited on July 14, 2011 4:45PM
zeropointone at 12:17AM, Oct. 12, 2008
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warefish
Plot twists! Lots and lots of plot twists! Ideally the type of twists or revelations that make you think “Oh my god! That is just downright genius!!!”.

what he said! plot twist like in vantage point: that movie nearly made my head explode.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:57PM
KingRidley at 5:39PM, Oct. 13, 2008
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I have an idea for a story right now. It's a good one, I think.

Problem is that it would rely alot of a certain art style. Sprites would not work. And I can't paint worth shit, and my drawings are always flat because I can't shade well. If I ever found an artist I'd probably have to turn them down because the whole process of making and posting the comics would be way too complex by that point.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
NickGuy at 7:30AM, Oct. 16, 2008
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This is going to be really harsh, but eh…

to have a funny comic, you have to simply BE FUNNY. If you arent your comic is going to fail. that's it.

I've read very funny comics that are random, make sex jokes, swear alot, etc…all different types of humor. the reason they were funny was not because of the content of the humor, but because it was well done and the person behind it was a funny person.

Thats why I find shows like space ghost coast to coast and brak hilarious and family guy lame.

Know your humor. If you arent good at random humor dont do a random comic. If you are good at lol wtf 1337 humor then by all means do that. play to your strengths or it will be apparent that this isnt what you are good at.

“Kung Fu Komix IS…hardcore martial art action all the way. 8/10” -Harkovast
“Kung Fu Komix is that rare comic that is made with heart and love of the medium, and it delivers” -Zenstrive
“Kung Fu Komix is…so awesome” -threeeyeswurm
“Kung Fu Komix is..told with all the stupid exuberance of the genre it parodies” -The Real Macabre
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM

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