Wednesday, December 5, 2012

process story

I know you've all been desperate to know what it's like to write a comic book. I can tell by the way that one of my dozens of posts about comic books got one comment.

Since i'm halfway through the first chapter of my first ever comic book, i clearly have a lot of expertise to share. I did read a few pages of one of Neil Gaiman's comic scripts once, and i know he writes a pretty full script, so basically i'm ready to teach a master's course in comic book writing.

Anyway, here's what i do: I already have a manuscript of straight prose, early drafts of the stories. I also have handwritten notes, maps, appendices, extra story outlines, and so forth. So i open the Word document, find the story i'm converting into comic script format, and draw a text box. This represents one page.

I then begin writing the first panel. Each page is a little different, and i have two different writing methods. For some pages, i know exactly what will happen in terms of the story, but i need to figure out how it will look. So i get my notebook, a Christmas present from my boyfriend, and start sketching.

It is important to note here that i am a terrible artist. If i were patient, and had all day to work with pencils and erasers and colored pencils and extra paper, i could produce one comics page that would look halfway decent. But i find it very difficult to draw the same person recognizably more than once. I also don't know a lot about things like shading, and i'm not very experienced or talented. So this is really just to help me figure out the action: who will be standing and who will be sitting? Will we see characters close up or from a distance? From what angle are they being viewed? How many panels will there be for this page, and what sizes and shapes will they be? Once i have the page sketched out, i write the page.

Other times, i start by filling in the text box with smaller text boxes, to represent the panels. I already know what i want it to look like visually. I do the writing in Word, and then i start doodling just to make sure that what i wrote makes sense visually.

Since i already have the story written, the conversion process is a fairly simple one. All i am doing is transferring the existing writing into panels. I need to decide how much of the story goes into each panel, and what else is happening at the same time, but it's really just a question of breaking the story into smaller chunks. There's a little bit of editing that happens at the same time, and here and there i'll write a note to change something later on, but mostly it's adaptation.

Each time i finish a page, i play a few rounds on FreeRice and read some webcomics, or walk over to the student center for coffee or a snack. I sit at a computer all day, so it's nice to get up and move when i can. And i need to let my brain breathe for a little while before tackling the next thing.

Maybe one day i will be a famous comics author and i can auction off my old notebooks for charity. And then when i'm dead, my estate will make t-shirts, postcards, and coffee mugs out of my shitty script sketches. Or maybe they'll just end up in a box in the attic, and the cat will pee on them, and then when i'm dead my kids will open up the box and immediately throw it away. Cat pee is gross, and the smell never goes away.

Well, that took an odd turn. Man, i can't wait to send part of the script to my potential artist so i can start actually posting updates about what's happening with this thing!

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