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Dynamic storytelling: Part 1

NickGuy at 3:50PM, Sept. 23, 2008

How to tell a story with pictures….only more awesome!


(3 star average out of 4 votes)

Hello there! My name is Luis-Nicholas Valdez and in this tutorial i am going to attempt to show you how to tell your comic stories with more awesomesauce on them!

But first i am sure you are wondering, “who the hell is this guy to be telling me how to tell awesome stories? F*** HIM!!”

Well, I have some comics here on drunk duck that I find to be pretty awesome and full of action, like http://www.drunkduck.com/Goku_vs_Superman/ or http://www.drunkduck.com/LUIS/ or even http://www.drunkduck.com/Batman_and_Robin_Kicking_Names_and__Taking_ass/

Now I've read and heard people say that there is no way to “teach” storytelling. While that is somewhat true, there IS a way to explain storytelling, so that when you are putting together your next comic you can keep some pointers in mind.

So Let's get started!

So you have either A) Just gotten the script from your writer or B) finished the script yourself, and are ready to draw! But how do you draw these pictures with excitement, with drama, with urgency? in other words, how do you make it DYNAMIC?

In this first example, I'm going to use my own script from my Batman and Robin Comic from page 3. it read as follows:

Panel 1
Ninjas surround Batman and Robin
SFX: DOOM

Panel 2
Close-Up of Batmans face
BATMAN: SINCE WHEN DID YOU GET NINJA THUGS, JOKER?

Panel 3
Close-up of Joker's face
JOKER: SINCE I PARTNERED WITH LADY SHIVA, FOOL!

Panel 4
Joker escapes out the back door of the warehouse, yelling at his ninja henchmen
JOKER: KILL THEM!

and here is how the page turned out



Now what i want to do is take a look at how i illustrated each panel from the script.

Panel 1
Ninjas surround Batman and Robin
SFX: DOOM
One of the most difficult things to imply in comics is movement. soundis another thing, but sfx kind of accounts for that. And so is depth. So by moving the camera down amidst our heroes (and villains), and putting the camera just behind the “circle” of surrounding baddies, I was able to imply a feeling of depth, and along with speedlines, a sense of movement.

Panel 2
Close-Up of Batmans face
BATMAN: SINCE WHEN DID YOU GET NINJA THUGS, JOKER?
Since the script called for a close up of batman, I went close in to just the head. actually more just the face. in a situation like this, sometimes less is more. Letting the word balloons do the work turned out to be just as dramatic as Doing a full drawing. the same with the Joker Panel.

Panel 4
Joker escapes out the back door of the warehouse, yelling at his ninja henchmen
JOKER: KILL THEM!
Now this panel could be done a number of different ways and in fact, I had thumbnailed some of them, but i dont have the scans, so…
The first image I had picked was an overhead shot. Now, this is a highly effective storytelling device, but there are risks. 1) you have to be very good at pulling the proportions and everything off or it will be a catastrophic disaster. 2) It's just plain hard to make an overhead shot dramatic, so i scrapped that idea.

The second image was one i called “doors-eye view”…that is, as if we were the door looking in on the warehouse with the Joker running toward the reader, looking back towards the ninjas and batman in the background and yelling at them. Nothing really technically wrong with this shot, but the emphasis wasnt on Joker leaving. we werent following him, we were staying in the warehouse to watch Batman and Robin fight the ninjas. so i moved the camera around to where we are batman, watching the ninjas approaching menacingly, and seeing joker in the background retreating.

Well thats it for part 1, join me for part 2 where ill have more examples and analysis!

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