I Can Write a Comic Book & So Can You: The Basics

A comic writer writes behind the scenes. Most people never actually see the words we write. They experience them as a picture, a word balloon, or the movement between panels.

The Script

When you sit down to write your first comic book, it’s hard to know exactly where to start, simply becuase you might not know what a comic script even looks like. Do a quick Google search of “how to write a comic” or “what does a comic script look like” and you get a melange of discordant results.

SampleScript2
Click to download the full script.

Here’s the short answer: There is no one industry standard format for a comic book script.

Here’s some info that’s more helpful:

  • Download one of my short comic scripts for a solid example of a comic book script format. I took a comic book writing class at Columbia College in Chicago. Mort Castle, the class’ professor and experienced horror comic writer, offered up a flexible simple script format created by David Campiti. It’s simple and easily customizable to fit a certain publisher’s needs.

Formatting

Formatting can be the bane of a comic writer’s existance. I’m not convinced it has to be. Here’s why:

  • Use a writing software that does the formatting for you. Scrivner is pretty sweet and is compatible with both Macs and PCs. You can download a 30 day trial, but, trust me, it’s worth the $45 price tag. FYI–it’s awesome for novel writing in general, as it allows you to collect your character summaries, photographs, research, and multiple drafts in one “source of truth” for your work.
  • Just fortmat at you go. That’s what I did when writing my graphic novel. I’d adjust the formatting at the end of every chapter. It was a nice break from the brain-wrenching work of writing.
Scriver's ability to store multiple forms of media in one document is great for comic writing.
Scriver’s ability to store multiple forms of media in one document is great for comic writing.

Terminology & Other Useful Things

Gutter-Space between comic book panels; a way cooler way of saying “space between comic book panels.”

Caption-A small box that encloses text.

Word Balloon-Don’t ever say word bubble. Ever.

Birds Eye View-The scene as seen from above it.

Close-up-A view of an object at close range.

Gods Eye View-The scene from far, far above as if from heaven.

Inset-A small panel enclosed in a big panel.

Manga Motion Lines-Lines that denote movement. This is a common technique used in Japanese comics, or manga.

Panel-A box that contains a given scene.

Splash Page-A full-page panel.

Wide View-A view that captures a long expanse of a scene.

Wikipedia has a more comprehensive list here.

Finally, Some Words of Wisdom

Don’t use Comic Sans font in your script. Just don’t do it. Be cool and use the old school Courier. It’s actually preferred because each letter takes up the same amount of space, making it easier for the artist to gauge space needed for a caption or word balloon.

Don’t over-describe. Probably your artist knows what a violin looks like, or a steak, or a ladder. The goal of the comic writer is to be descriptive enough her vision shines through but pithy enough to not constrict the artist’s style. When in doubt, add a picture reference.

Don’t get hung up on the formatting. If your script is readable, clear, and simple, you’ve probably got something good going. Let formatting be secondary to the actual content.

And with that, I release you to find the script format that works best for you!

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The Great Adventures of Maddie & TJ: The Macaroni Proposal

I’ve never created a webcomic before, nor have I attempted to “draw” my own comic. But I had the idea of starting The Great Adventures of Maddie & TJ, and I just couldn’t forget about it (or wait around to find someone willing to draw it). So I went for it. And what you see is my valiant attempt!

The idea for The Great Adventures arose when my friends and I (as well-rounded nerds) were sitting around debating who we thought was the douche-iest United States president. We eventually decided on Jackson, but not before a lengthy discussion about Thomas Jefferson (who, for some reason, just seemed like an 18th century frat boy). We found out that TJ and James Madison were actually good friends, a fact that seems quite odd because Maddie actually sounds like a nice guy (you know, the nerdy quiet guy you’d never date but tell all your friends THEY should date). We also found out that TJ had traveled to Italy and brought back with him a sketch of a macaroni maker. And he was pretty obsessed with macaroni hence forth. And hence forth the idea of The Great Adventures of Maddie & TJ, a webcomic in which James Madison must bravely endure the antics of Thomas Jefferson, was born and simply wouldn’t go away.

by Angie Spoto

Breaking the Blogger Fourth Wall…

Apparently, I unknowingly connected my Polyvore account to Ms.Comix…so for all those who received Ms.Comix email updates about IKEA furniture and the like: Oops! Sorry! I never intended Ms.Comix to be an outlet for my personal life, but just in case you were wondering what exactly I was creating, well, here is roughly what my new apartment’s living room will look like.

My New Apartment

The Quest Begins…

            I just watched Captain America for the second time, and although part of me was consumed with pure joy when viewing the action and solid story arch, another part of me sits in that fancy rocking movie theater chair seething. I sit (and rock, those chairs are so irresistibly rockable)  and wonder:

 “When can I watch a great action movie with a female lead, not romantic interest, damn it!?”

 “Why the hell did Stan Lee write primarily about women? I give him props for creating some of the most renowned and compelling comic heroes, but he kinda screwed us women over by, well, forgetting (or dare I say, ignoring?) us.”

“And why oh why is Black Widow (who happens to be the only female Avenger) the only Avenger without a  solo movie? Newsflash Marvel, I think a huge number of women and men would pay money to see Scarlett Johansson kicking ass in a spandex suit.”

            And this is where I figuratively take a deep breath and let anyone reading this know that I personally take it upon myself to find answers to these questions. I shall look under every rock, in every dusty textbook, and in every digital nook and cranny if I have to find some way of answering the age-old question, “Where are all the women heroes?”

            Want to help me on my quest? Post your ideas below and feel free to include any references you suggest I check out!