Tag Archives: how to

02Aug/22
the entrance of a school

Do I Need to Go to School for Comics?

This is probably one of the most frequently asked questions from people who are looking to start in comics. If you’re looking to draw o write comics, then you probably want to know if you need to get “qualified”. For most people, the obvious equivalent of this would go to school or getting a degree in comics. 

The simple answer is – No! 

However, you will need some level of training or self education if you do not decide to go to school. There are advantages to both paths.

In this post, we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of going to school for comics and some alternatives. 

 

Advantages of Going To School

Some schools do offer classes, or a degree path specifically focused on comics. Other than those programs, you can find creative writing or visual art programs at most universities or community colleges.

Learn The Rules For Your Tools

The biggest advantage of the school path is that you get context around the skills you develop. You get the history of different creative skills and how they developed. This allows you to know the rules for what makes objectively engaging art and how to break those rules to make art more impactful.

Applicable Skill Development

Schooling also provides a training path for practice and development. The assigned classwork and curriculum will challenge you in new ways and incentivise you to create a lot of writing or illustrations. This is a great way to find the encouragement to create.

Day Job Credibility

Something that new comic creators need to be aware of is that you will probably need a day job. Comics are not the most lucrative trade. Of course, the goal is to make comics your full-time job, but starting out, you will probably need another source of income to cover your needs. 

Having a degree gives you a tool to get a day job that you can still find fulfilling. Plenty of our creators have day jobs in graphic design, copywriting, or art education. Having a creative day job is a great way to keep your creative juices flowing all day long.

 

Disadvantages of Going to School for Comics

There are, of course, downsides to going to school.

Cost of Admission

College tuition prices seem to go up every year if you live in a country where those are a thing. Especially for private art schools that offer degrees tailored for comics. That makes it impossible to recommend the college path to everyone in good faith. 

At the top, we mentioned community colleges do also offer classes. These are usually the typically creative writing or visual art degree path, but sometimes you see specific comics class. Community College could be a good low-cost alternative.

Time Investment

Degrees take time to earn. Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from creating comics with your free time, but your degree path will lock you in for 2 to 4 years. If you want to get straight into making comics or have a family to provide for, then you may not have the required time to go through the program.

You could look at night programs. These will allow you to create or work during the day and then attend courses at night or even online at your own pace. 

Availability

Not every state has a school that offers programs for comics. You can probably find one for creative writing or illustration, but if that’s not what you are interested in, you may not do as well as you would in a program that aligns with your interests. Not everyone can fly to a new state or country to go to school, and that’s valid. 

Online programs can bridge some of that gap now that those are more common. Another option would be to seek a more seasoned creator out, either locally or online, and ask for some of their time on a call or otherwise to learn from them. 

 

Alternatives

So what are some alternatives to going to school for comics? There’s actually quite a lot. 

Some of the most pursued options are:

  • Self-Education
  • Mentorship
  • Translating Adjacent Work

Self-Education

If the cost, time, or availability of school are prohibitive, then you can always educate yourself. There are tons of outstanding books and resources out there to teach yourself how to make comics. We try our best with our podcasts and craft series. The secret is that books on how to make comics rarely cost much. The same books they use in school, you can just buy for yourself

Mentorship

There are a lot of comic creators in the world. A lot of them have some sort of online presence, go through the convention circuit, or they may even live down the road from you. You could always ask politely if they can teach you a thing or two. Sometimes they’ll stick with you to guide you along, other times they’ll just give you a few pearls and send you on your way. Either way, you’re more knowledgeable about making comics. 

Adjacent Work

Here’s a secret: You don’t have to learn how to make comics to make comics. You just have to be a fan of the medium and know what comics are. Words on art in panels on pages. If you have experience writing any other form of fiction or drawing anything else, you can translate that to comics. However, you’ll need some practice to get the idea of sequential art down. 

There are plenty of people who just stumbled into making comics after illustrating cartoons or writing commercials. 

12Jul/22

How to Write A Script for A Comic (DC Style)

Writing with a pen on a note book

A question that perhaps should be asked more often is “How do I write a script for my comic?” A lot of people get a great idea for a comic and sit down at their keyboard only to realize that they don’t know how to write a comic. So if you Googled this and stumbled across this post, good on you. You’re ahead of the game.

The secret to comic scripting is that you can do it any way you want to. Whatever works best for you and your artist, is the right way. If that’s half coherent notes on a napkin then so be it.

However, if you want more guidance, there are two more structured schools of thought when it comics to writing a comic script.

  • DC Style (Full Script)
  • Marvel Style (Page Summary)

I’ll do a post for both styles.

Today’s post is about the style that I prefer to write in. Full Script, or DC Style.

Is It DC Style or Full Script?

The detectives among you would have already noticed that I used two names interchangeably. DC Style and Full Script. Full Script is the more formal name and it’s more descriptive.

The two different schools of thought became more popular with different editors at the big two. Full Scripting was more popular at DC for a time. Page Summary was more popular at Marvel for a while. Thus, they took on new names for a time.

It’s Full Script Now

The idea of the different styles being defined by DC or Marvel has become outdated. Not only do they share so much of the market with other publishers now, but also editors are less picky. If the script gets turned in on time and meets their standard of quality, that’s what they care about.

So for the most part, we’ll be referring to this style as Full Script.

What Does It Look Like?

Full Script looks how it sounds. Before you turn anything over to your artist or managing editor, you have the entire script written on the page.

That means that each page is labeled and broken up into panels. Each panel has a full description of the background and the action taking place. All the characters have their dialogue written out and attached to the panel it should be in. Every sound effect is listed and defined for the letterer and artist to collaborate on.

I’ll attach a picture of Wolf Hunter’s script since that was how I wrote the book.

Comic Book Full Script

 

How Do I Do It?

So no you know what it looks like. How do you put it into action and write your first script for a comic book?

Step-by-Step

  1. Start with your page header. It should look something like Page 1. Put that as the very first line. Remember, comics are typically 22 pages, but with today’s technology feel free to go hog wild and be as long or short as the story needs to be. You can always break it up into issues later.
  2. The second line will contain the panel header. Panel 1. That’s it. For an action comic, you can expect a page to be 4 to 7 panels. If it’s a more methodical literary piece, anywhere between 5 and 8 panels.
  3. Then underneath that header, begin to write the description of what’s in that panel. Tell us everything that you imagine happening in that panel. “James Willard exits a town car in front of a large hotel.” With practice, you’ll learn what details are important and what is not. Also, ask your artist how much detail they need.
  4. After that write out all your character’s dialogue that should go in that panel. Do each character as a separate line. And try to keep each dialogue bubble contained to a sentence. This will make it easier to read for your creative teammates, and also for the reader. Any sound effects also go in this section.
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 until you finish a page and then do it all over again until you finish your book.

 

 

Pros

 

Clear Communication With Your Artist

Media ComparisonThe idea book is scripted out by the time it gets to your artist. It is much easier for them to visualize what you had imagined for each scene. It also gives them more context to use if they want to offer changes. It makes the experience feel more collaborative since everyone has the same amount of information as to what the end product will be.

 

Dialogue Leads Action

Having the dialogue written first allows the characters to come alive as written and use that to lead the actions in the illustration. It prevents the problem of having to rewrite dialogue and possibly change the flow or outcome of a scene based on illustrations that came as a result of your intention being unclear in a summary.

Great For Slower Character Dramas or Suspense

This style of scripting gives you room to set up large changes or reveals. You can purposefully place small details throughout the script to be paid off later. As stated in the point above, dialogue can shine through in this format. If you write strong characters and want to use their voices to tell personal stories, this format could suit you.

Cons

Time Invested

This format is much more time-intensive than writing in Page Summary. Make sure to cut out and protect your writing time to make sure you can complete your script.

Can Feel Overbearing (Easy to Get Attached To Your Writing)

Your artist may want more freedom with their illustration. Don’t get too attached to every single detail you write out. Remember, comics are collaborative.

While writing Wolf Hunter, AJ made tons of changes to panel layout and certain panel elements. I used this format as a way to give him context so that he knew what was important and where I wanted to go. All of his changes got us there in a way that was more visually appealing. I didn’t quash his feedback by saying, “that’s not in the script.”

Easy to Get Wordy

It can be all too easy to get wordy in with this method. Either your dialogue runs on too long, or you stuff too much detail into one panel description. Keep your internal editor on the lookout. If you feel like you’ve written too much, you have. Don’t be afraid to cut something or get feedback and ask if it’s really necessary.

Final Words

I hope this post gave you the information you need to write your first comic book script. If have any more questions or feel like I missed something, leave a comment. I hope to catch you very soon.

Until then,
Make Mine Silverline