While the creative process behind creating a comic book may not be one size fits all, numerous comics will likely start with a specific idea and storyline, allowing the story to have a foundation of its own. Following suit is the collaboration process among various stakeholders, with colorists, artists, and editors polishing the final details of the book. So what are the fundamentals of writing a comic book?
Start With a Short Story
Bringing your ideas to life can be challenging, so starting with a short visual story will help translate your thoughts into actual characters. Remember that comic books often bridge the world between cinematic storytelling and the novel world, turning the best of these worlds into fun visuals. With this in mind, Geoff Johns suggests utilizing adequate scene changes to help you efficiently relay the highlights of your story. Additionally, your style of artwork should also mimic your writing style, with the colors used depicting the mood of your comic book.
Build All-Rounded Relatable Characters
Audiences will relate more to a character that depicts real-life struggles, allowing them to immerse themselves in every twist and turn of the story. Whether your story leans heavily on superheroes or villains, make it a point to highlight some of their strengths and weaknesses. This could be a fear of heights, a loss of a family member, or prowess in various academic fields.
Let the Character Have Agency
While you may have picked out various attributes for a certain character, ensure that the character in question also has agency. This allows the character to make his or her own choices, with the story often taking shape as you draft the comic’s plot. This also allows for more diversified storylines, with new plot twists pulling in new roles for other characters. Remember also to create different types of characters not limited to just genders, with age and different expertise being common concerns in today’s comic world.
Utilize Pacing and Panels
Controlling the pace of your story will be a large part of creating a successful comic story, with paneling helping introduce visuals linked to particular captivating events of the book. These elements will essentially allow you to break from monologues, with major occurrences brought to life with accurate visuals. Allow the audience to be fully immersed in each scene, with key moments capturing the characters’ emotions.
Remember that major scenes deserve a spotlight of their own, with the overleaf often suited to this. Revealing notable aspects of the story on the same page will often give away key moments too early, creating spoilers as the audience rushes over crucial story pieces that often ease into the big reveal.
An effective way to avoid this is by working with your script page and the graphic page containing your panels side by side. Highlight major scenes from your script book and fit these into the panels, working your way to the big reveal on the overleaf. This will prove helpful in balancing both the visuals and words for perfect storytelling.
Work With Various Timelines For Each Character
Several timelines will also be essential in helping you visualize where each character is at various points in their life, making for a streamlined story when their storylines meet. This is an overlooked piece for numerous comics, with most failing to develop into cohesive stories. The trick for this will be keeping one story public to the audience while the other one can help guide character development.
Comic books may often pass as simple works of art, but they often need just as much attention as other creative pieces of storytelling. With this in mind, prioritize your characters’ attributes and let them have agency. In addition, panels and pacing will also be essential to your story, with multiple timelines allowing you to merge your characters’ stories into one cohesive piece.