How to Make a Comic from Script to Print

Sarah Spoto │Contributing writer.
So, one person writes and draws a comic…right? And everything is drawn by hand…isn’t it?
You wouldn’t be alone if you were unsure about how a comic is actually made. Recently, I attended a lecture at the Chicago Comic Con that cleared up a lot of misconceptions about creating comics or graphic novels. Here’s what I learned.
Comics are written in a sort of assembly line process.
1. To start, the writer must first write the story. The script resembles a movie screen play. There are two generally accepted scripts: the Marvel method and the Traditional full script method. For the Marvel method, the writer will break the action down page-by-page. She provides a general description of what is happening on a page. This method gives the artist greater autonomy over how to execute the story. For the Tradition full-script , the artist describes the action panel-by-panel. For this method, the writer provides a high level of detail to guide the artist.
Both Marvel and DC have samples of scripts to download. Writers also offer samples of their work on their websites. Another resource for scripts is the book Panel One, which provides examples of real comic scripts. Another suggestion is to write to comic companies to send scripts.
2. After the story is written, the script is given to the penciler, who then draws what the writer has described. Before computers, the penciler would pass the comic on to the letterer. Traditionally, the letterer adds the text to the comic by hand. However, today the lettering is done on the computer usually by the inker. The comic is traditionally drawn 66% larger that actual size of the final comic.
3. The inker scans the pages and inks over the pencil. This is process is usually done now on the computer with programs like Photoshop.
4. In the fourth step, the colorist either colors in the Xerox copy of the comic or colors the comic in digitally. Photoshop is a common software for coloring.
5. Finally, the comic can be printed.
How can writers or artists get their work published?
As a writer, it can be very tough to break into the comic industry. Breaking in is actually easier for artists. For submission, writers should submit a paragraph of an idea as a sample. Writers really must sell their idea to find success.
When submitting, avoid the big guys, Marvel and DC. Instead visit your local comic shop and look at the independent comics for smaller, independent comic companies.
Webcomics are also on the rise. Publishing independently on the web is a good way for writers and artists to get their comics read.
Sarah is an art and business student who enjoys the occasional graphic novel and the more than occasional Marvel hero movie.
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