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Monday, August 24, 2015

Shawn Writes a Comic Script

I just wrote my first comic strip script! Nothing fancy, just an adaptation of my short E’steem: No Good Deed. I figured before I tackle a full Graphic novel adaptaion of an Isis series story or an original story for another character in the format I decided to see if I could get my style to work within the medium.

I chose E’steem: No Good Deed because it was one of my shorter works. (only three pages) And since it was short, it would be a good test to assess my style.

I found it interesting how only three pages of prose and dialogue story turned into nine pages of comic panels.

The big challenge with comic writing was trying to create single images only using words. I thought I could use some techniques I picked up from screenwritng, such as creating images using a limited amount of words, however in comic writing a writer has to use even fewer words to create their pictures.

The big difference is while the images are moving in a screenplay, in comics a writer has to tell a story using a series of static soilitary pictures. So writing for the medium is a lot trickier. Trying to get the thousand words down to four or five that effectively tell a story in one picture is quite the challenge.

I’ve been studying comic scripts for a few years but it’s a major challenge to actually sit down and write one. The formatting is completely different from novels or screenplays. Each page has its own set of panels and that really limits how much story a writer can put on a single page. While I could easily put an intro and go right into story on a novel or a short or just start writing action for a scene in a screenplay after FADE IN, for a comic I have to have to create an inciting incident with a single solitary image for the splash page. Then that has to followed up with panels that transition the action and move the story forward in pictures. Not easy. Not easy at all.

No Good Deed worked fairly well for a comic script. The action flowed smoothly from panel to panel. While it only it took a day for me to write the original story, it took a week to write the script for the comic. Maybe that’s because I was learning the ins and outs of formatting, but I’d like to think I could produce a script at the speed I write many of my Isis series stories.  

I wrote the E’steem: No Good Deed script kind of loose; I wanted to leave it a little rough in case I ever got to work with an artist on it. Working on comics is different from the novel or the screenplay. The novel is a solitary project where the writer works alone. And the screenplay is where a writer works alone. On the other hand, a comic is a collaborative effort and a writer has to be open to changing things when working with an artist to tell the right story in pictures. When you work on a comic the artist is just as important as the writer and their input is just as valuable to the finished product. They may have some ideas to add during the revision process that make the final story the best it can be.

This is my first script and it’s a really rough first draft. And I’m hoping to trim it from the nine pages to about six or eight or possibly even four. A simple story about a hero foiling a stick-up doesn’t have to be that long. The original E’steem: No Good Deed was just a basic story to introduce the character to readers and establish her new direction; and that’s what I’d like the comic to be when I get a chance to publish it.

I’d love to learn more about comic writing. I believe the techniques used could help me with the novel the same way screenwriting helped me become a better novelist. Now that I’m starting to write comic scripts I’ll be working on more projects in the medium in the future.

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