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Resources for the Next MillarWorld Annual Talent Search (And Your Future Comics Careers)


#1

Hi, all!

The results of the first Millarworld Talent Search have been announced, and I know there are plenty of you out there who can’t wait to submit scripts and sample pages in future talent searches. Since the next contest won’t be for a while longer, we all have some time to up our game! In the spirit of solidarity and collaboration, I’m starting this thread to share a few resources that may be helpful to all of you, my fellow creators. Please feel free to add any resources you think may be helpful.

I. Script Format Tips

There are no standard script formats in comics, and there aren’t very many rules. But Mark has created a thread with some helpful tips for writers. Even if you’ve been scripting comics on your own for years, Mark’s advice should be pretty helpful, especially since he’ll be selecting the winning entries.

You can also Google search for advice from your favorite creators; several of them have already shared tips with their fans. Kelly Sue DeConnick has posted several tips on her Tumblr page, and I’d recommend giving them a look.

Comicwriterservices.com is a particularly noteworthy resource; it aggregates a myriad of articles and blog posts written by industry professionals. Pretty much anything you want to know about writing or the industry can be found there.

Check out Blambot for information on comic book grammar (balloons, captions, sound effects, etc.).

I’ve added my 2015 Chrononauts entry to this post to illustrate one formatting method here. It’s not without flaw, but you can use it as a reference for your own work, or you can borrow elements from the format to develop your own.

II. Sample Scripts

In his advice to writers entering the talent search, Mark included a few script pages from the first issue of Huck. As a writer, that script may inform how you choose to format your own scripts. As an artist, it gives you material to practice telling a story.

Sometimes you can find other scripts in hardcover collections or trade paperbacks. I’ve seen scripts included in Batman: Year One, Superman Unchained, and Ultimate X-Men. You can also find scripts on comicbookscriptarchive.com or with a Google search.

As mentioned above, I’ve included my 2015 Chrononauts entry in this post. As a short story, it may be useful to artists who want to practice their storytelling skills with a compact but complete script. Writers, if you’d like to share your old entries for similar reasons, please feel free to do so.

Edit - You can find other old script entries to the Talent Search here.

III. Comic Art

I’m less well equipped to share online resources pertaining to art, but I can recommend Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics as a helpful guide to the mechanics of the medium.

IV. Collaborative Development

I hope this thread will help to foster the development of the aspiring creators out there. Please share any other resources you think might be helpful to future talent search entrants. I’d like to see this thread become a place where budding creators can share ideas, ask questions, or share their work.

Feel free message me here on Millarworld or on Twitter @JLKreitner






Collaboration Thread
Annual Contest Writers! Post scripts here for peer review
Here are the winners of the Millarworld Talent Search
#2

I was about to start a similar thread like this over the weekend, but you’ve rightly beaten me to it, JKreitner!

This is not only the thread we need, but one we deserve too!


#3

Well, now I know that I must have done something right since this thread officially has its first Dark Knight reference!


#4

This is a great thread here. Just going to drop my two cents worth if that’s okay.

Format is vital. You may have a great idea but it needs to be readable. One of the key things to do is to keep your format structured, easy to follow and concise. This goes the same for dialogue and captions. You don’t want it to be formatted in a way that will create extra work for the letterer.

The best way to get that format on point is the same way you get to Carnegie Hall. (John*) Practice. Read the notes and clink on the links that jkreitner posted above. Also, seek out scripts that pros have done. There’s plenty out there. If you’re struggling to find any go check out 2000AD and Dark Horse’s website.

Many of this stuff has probably been reiterated before but just consider this as a friendly reminder :smile:

Last Action Hero reference*


#5

Some other (mostly art realted) books:

Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art (Eisners layouts and “superpanels” are brilliant)
How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way (A fun beginners style book that you’ll go back to again and again)
DC’s Comics Guide to… (There’s a whole series of these from writing to digitally drawing)

You can learn a lot from looking at IDW artist editions as well.

The most important skill to learn is a critical eye of your own work. To be able to look at your art, sense there’s something wrong with it and figure out what it is and do it better. You’ll drive yourself nuts and never be happy with anything, but over time you’ll notice your work getting better and better. On the other hand, that same skill might hold you back because you’ll never think its good enough. So you have to come to terms with, developmentally, “Where am I now?” and keep plugging away and push forward. And enter competitions like Mark’s even if where you are now may not be good enough.


#6

Lists of books are great - but, remember folks, please feel free to tell us what you got out of them too!

Very much, yes.


#7

The most important book to read, in my opinion, is Alan Moore’s ‘Writing For Comics.’ It’s fantastic not just for comics, but for writing in general. I’m still stunned at what Alan has been able to achieve, and I still can’t figure how his brain is human, but this book took some of the mystery out and let me peep behind the curtain a little bit. I took many things away from that book (which is really just a long essay; it’s an easy and – as you’d expect – fun read), but I really loved his discussion about the difference between character depth and character breadth. The idea being that you might have, I dunno, an evil character like Darth Vader, who’s just really evil all the time, and some writers might want to make him more complicated by giving him a backstory about having been good once but turned towards evil because he lusted for power. That’s an attempt to create a multifaceted character (there’s good and evil in him), but really it’s just a series of one-dimensional characters (a good Anakin followed by a bad Vader). That’s what Alan describes as ‘character breadth.’ The complicated, and realistic, thing to do is give the character depth – make him good and bad all at the same time, and scared and brave and honest and a liar and loving and angry and passionate and brilliant and stupid and everything else that makes a real inner human life. Obviously the more time you have the more you can do this, but anything that adds layers to a character’s mindset at a given moment rings true and makes for a more interesting and realistic character. At least, that’s what it feels like for me when I read works like Watchmen, and it was incredibly valuable for me to read Alan’s discourse on it.


#8

Hey guys, one really useful book I forgot to mention was Into The Woods by John Yorke. It’s a really useful tool, although it’s not written specifically for comic book writing, it does breakdown the essence of storytelling and why it’s done in a certain way.

There are countless screenplay/scriptwriting books out there; but most of them just reduce stories and films to a simple formula that make it apparently easy for the writer to follow. This book is a breath of fresh air as it helps you understand why such a thing has to happen and why a journey has to be undertaken.

I don’t want to say too much about this book in here, but I read it last year and it’s genuinely reconstructs the way you think a story should be formatted.

Seek it out!


#9

It’s a funny thing about these types of books, they’re usually loved by Producers but not by writers. Just as a note, it’s philosophically diametrically opposed to the book I suggested. I think writing anything to a formula, even if a reason is given for that formula, is creative suicide.

I think this goes for any medium. Look at The Beatles; are they revered for sticking inside the box, or are they revered for doing things like having a four-minute coda in a seven-minute song? I think it’s worst in films, because books like this are loved by those with the money, and so we get an awful lot of by-the-numbers movies that are utterly forgettable.

Just looking at the link you gave, the first bullet point reads: “Into The Woods explains why all stories have the same underlying shape.” Straight away, we know this isn’t true. If it was, we wouldn’t need a book to tell us how to do it; it would be redundant because any story we write would already take into account this formula.

Perhaps he means all good stories have the same underlying shape, but even this is demonstrably false. Many novels in particular take particular glee in avoiding such maxims, which is why a lot of the best literature is found in this medium. But a glaring example of a truly brilliant and affecting film which avoids this trap is in our favourite comicbook-fan-turned-Hollywood-Director Kevin Smith’s seminal indie film, Clerks. This has an utterly unique structure which is one of the (many) reasons it stuck with me and so many other people throughout the decades.

I mean, this is all a matter of opinion; maybe this or that reader doesn’t like Clerks and prefers Avengers – fair enough, read this book. I just think it’s worth stating that it is a matter of opinion and that you can be successful and find an audience by avoiding ‘the rules.’


#10

I know what you mean but the book itself doesn’t aim to be a how to write a book or step by step breakdown. Rather it explains the way story on constructed most commonly.

Yes, there are films, comics, songs, books etc that break this conventional format. But it’s paramount that the creators understand the rules of their medium in order to break them.

I, too, am against books that ham-fist rules and sanctions that creators HAVE to follow but it is worth picking this book up as it quite the opposite. The writer doesn’t lay down rules for you follow. Rather to look at trends that appear in stories and how they are manipulated.


#11

I’m wary of it for the reason that McCartney cites: “If we knew we were breaking the rules, we wouldn’t have broken them!” (That’s a paraphrase). Basically he said that if you know what the so-called ‘rules’ are, it’s harder to get them out of your head, even subconsciously. You’ll then be writing either to the rules or to break the rules, rather than simply focussing on what sounds (or looks or whatever) good.

That said, I have by osmosis picked up most of the rules (it’s hard to not spot the deliberate patterns when they’re in every movie; The King’s Speech has the same structure as It Might Get Loud and The Avengers, and in my opinion the ‘conflicts’ in the second act of the former two come across as forced because they are indeed forced), so I know when something is fresh like Clerks; but at the same time I try to avoid the ‘rules’ as much as possible because I don’t want to end up subconsciously rewriting Wagner (or whatever McCartney’s example was).

Perhaps the book is different to how it is presented on the website, but if the website is anything to go by and the book does make statements like ‘all stories have the same structure,’ then – given the type of work I enjoy and that I want to create – it’s not for me. To each their own but I just want to point out that there are those other options.


#12

FOr any writers out there who would like an opportunity to brush up on their script writing skills using established characters, there is a site called Thought-Balloons.com. A team of writer’s take turns in choosing a character of the comics medium each week, in which they write a single page of script on that character/theme. Other members of the team give feedback, as do members of the public who are also encouraged to play along as well.

It helped me get my head around writing short and succinct scripts and recommend it to fellow writers to really brush up on your game.


#13

DO you have a link to the site? thought-balloon.com comes up as a 404 on my end. It sounds super interesting, I just can’t seem to find it.


#14

Fantastic thread, consider it bookmarked!

Like a lot of people I’m sure that’ll be checking this thread out more than once. I’ve read a number of books on writing, and art over the years. Eisner, McCloud, Moore, How to Draw comics the Marvel Way have all been mentioned. And there are things in everyone of them I think you should be exposed to for sure!

A couple more to add to the list as my way of starting to contribute.

Writing For Comics is a book by Peter David I read this a number of years ago after trying and failing a lot at writing scripts. I come from an art background, so having some of the basics spelled out for me really helped. It also helps that David seems to use a really clear and non-sterile writing style to convey his points. It goes over things like how to juggle multiple plot points (listed A,B,C etc.) and how he thinks about breaking up a page.

How to Write For Animation by Jeffrey Scott might not seem like the most obvious book for talking about comics. But his book really goes into detail about how to hit beats in a story. And also has a number of examples. It’s not the most original name for a book in the world, but his writing chops and screen credits should give him some due here. Afterall he was a writer on the The Muppet Babies! (And also some lesser known properties like Spider-Man and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

The way I format a script still more or less came from a hybrid of the examples in these two books.

On the art side of things I really like the Andrew Loomis books, which have thankfully finally seen print again.

Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth in particular, is a really good guide to breaking down anatomy. It’s a book from quite a while ago, so you’re not going to find super exaggerated cartoony stuff in it. But it’s a great place to learn a foundation, especially if you plan to start stretching the boundaries.

The Animation Survival Kit by Richard Williams is great for showing off things like the point of greatest anticipation or greatest action. This isn’t dissimilar to How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. But one thing it has going for it, is Williams’ examples aren’t masked inside of full on pinup drawings of Spider-Man or J Jonah Jameson. His cartoony approach really nails these points home. For comics the bit about in between panels and frame rates of course doesn’t have much bearing. But the action line and motion shown in the drawings is something a lot of us should be looking at for sure!

And last but not least the thread deserves to have Wally Wood’s 22 Panels that always work in it.


#15

Ooops - sorry the URL was changed.

The new one is http://www.thought-balloons.org/


#16

Fantastic! Thanks I’ll be looking into them at length for sure. For whatever reason my google-fu was failing me on finding any alternate urls.


#17

Not a problem. Was a great site to be a part of. I recommend putting your single page script in the ‘Why’ post each week and the guys should provide some feedback. Good luck!


#18

http://cdn.bleedingcool.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/2000AD.png