So, I know last week I added info about “some required reading” that I would recommend to hopefully help get people making their own comics…
Well, consider this part two.
Now, those of you that know, there is no definitive right or wrong way to write a comic script.
No one has ever said that you HAVE to write a script a certain way…however, there are two ways in which most writers do…
One is The Marvel method, where back in the day, the legend that is Stan Lee was writing every comic in the Marvel office…I use the term “writing” loosely because I know a lot of the artists helped write those stories too through this method, so I didn’t want to take anything away from them because this is a collaborative medium after all.
Anyway, I digress…
This method in a nut shell, is Stan would write a page of synopsis, of what he wanted to happen with the “beats” of the story…then, he would give this outline to the artists and they would go away and crate the story around it. Then Stan would come back when the art was finished and put in the dialogue…it is as simple as that.
BUT, I wouldn’t recommend anyone else use this method unless you are a seasoned pro or you are like Stan and writing ten plus comics a month and you simply just do not have time to write a full script for every comic you are making.
Now, the second way as I just mentioned above is called “Full Script” and again there is no definitive right or wrong way to do this.
A comic script can be as basic as….
PAGE ONE: EXT. HOSPITAL. DAY
1/ From a distance a doctor runs frantically down a long corridor towards us.
2/ As the doctor arrived at a cross section in the hallway he is hit by a hospital gurney being pushed by a hospital orderly.
But, the above doesn’t really invoke the emotion of the scene or describe the style of the comic I am trying to create. Plus, have YOU ever tried to read comic script that you haven’t written yourself?…it can be a very bland way to spend your time…that’s why my heart goes out to editors!
Can you imagine having to read script after script after script…this is why if you are lucky enough to meet an editor, unless asked to pitch, don’t hand them a script…they have enough to read!
Anyway, I write full script and the way I see it is, I need inspire my artist collaborator to become fully engaged with reading the story, the same way if he or she picked up a novel.
I want them to be excited by what they are reading.
Now, I know there are a million differences between movies and comics, however, because they are both visual mediums they do share certain fundamentals that can be used transferred between each.
Again, you don’t have to do this, because as I’ve said it a couple of times there is now right of wrong way to write a script, but what I do when I write full script is, I use movie “shot” descriptions to help describe what is happening on the page…we all know what an establishing shot is and what a close up is…but there are dozens of “camera” choices that can be used to help you describe what you envision to be on the page…
I recently came across these three videos below and I just wish there were around when I first started writing. Not every shot contained would work for comics, but these videos are a fantastic way to help get some ideas on how to make your scripts more exciting!
Also, the amazing Wally Wood created the following panel descriptions too…
Ok, so now you have written yoru script and you give it to your artist partner…
The next lesson is…don’t become Gollum over your script!
Unless (and if I’m honest, EVEN if) you are paying FULL PAGE rates and your collaborators is just a “work for Hire” style partner, you have to allow artist to work THEIR magic on your script.
If you are working with a professional artist, 9 times out 10 they will have a better visual eye than you do, so trust them.
I’ve had artists that have stuck to my panel descriptions perfectly, but I have had others that have rejigged the pages and our comics are all the better for it.
This happens because before I write ANY script, I always put a message to the artist that goes something like this…
Please use my panel descriptions as a guide only. You are the artist and this is a collaboration.
I want you to make this comic as much yours as it is mine, so put your own stamp on it.
If i have put “close up” but you think a “over the shoulder from an elevated view” would work better, run with it. As long as we get to where we need to go and you leave me enough room for the words, that’s fine. The only thing I ask is that you pay special attention to something written in red, anything written this way is done because it is REALLY important to the story…
Again, there is no right or wrong way to make a comic or write a script.
This is just what i do…
So, just go out there and make comics…
Hope it helps!