Sunday, December 19, 2010

Writing Comics

I've been into writing and storytelling for as long as I can remember, and that love of story has always coincided with my love for comics. When I was in elementary school, I was convinced that I was going to grow up to be a comic book artist for Marvel or DC, drawing characters like Spider-Man, Batman, Green Lantern, and the X-Men. As I grew up, I realized that what I really wanted to do was tell the stories associated with the artwork, and started to focus more on writing.

Writing comics is very similar to writing a screenplay. Where a screenplay will look something like this:

INT. BAR - NIGHT

The MAIN CHARACTER does something heroic by hitting a guy over a head with a bottle.

MAIN CHARACTER (CENTERED)
I love being a man!

Comic book scripts look more like this (though it's much more open to style in scripting than films are):

PAGE ONE (5 PANELS)

PANEL ONE

Wide shot of the MAIN CHARACTER at the bar, snatching a bottle off the stained wood counter.

MAIN CHARACTER:
I'll show you a knock-out beer!

SFX: Swiff!

Now, neither of those little snippets are award winning material, but you get the idea.

In comparing the two, I've recently found that I like writing comics slightly better. When writing a comic book script, you have to plan out your story a little more, since you only have a set number of images per page to convey your story. This makes the outlining stage one of the most important in the process.

When writing a comic book script, a writer is also able to use more prose-style language to describe how things look and feel in the panel. Instead of a movie script where you only describe action with little or no details (these are meant for the production team and director), the comic book script needs to have all of the emotion and deep language for the artist to capture what is happening in a confined space of narrative.

I do plan on trying to improve my drawing again, and to gain back what I lost from over fifteen years of pencil withdrawal, but I'm really enjoying working in a medium that uses the structure of scriptwriting and the same level of detail as novels and short stories.

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