Monday 8 June 2015

Writing Comics Is Easy.....well sort of.

Writing Comics Is Easy

Quick let me qualify that before the other comic book writers come round my house and have words. 

Writing comics is just as hard as any other form of literary endeavour but with one caveat - your only really talking to one person - the artist. You see when you're writing prose you've got to think about how every damn word will impact your entire readership. Every damn word! This means that if you're of a nervous disposition you can find yourselves agonising for hours about the placement of every comma.

You'd think film scripts would be better. After all a script is not aimed at the general audience - in many ways it is a technical document like a blueprint or a recipe it exists to provide a framework for other, hopefully talented, crafts people to build around. Alas a script has also to excite people with money or at least people who know people with money so you've always got to write with them in mind. This wouldn't be so bad if so many in the industry didn't combine ignorance with an innate sense of certainty(1).

But comic scripts are beautiful - you write them essentially for one person only(2) - the artist. Since they're a fellow professional you don't have to entice them with your prose or come up with six new ways to say the hero runs past the camera in an exciting fashion. In fact once you've established a working relationship you can use short hand, or offer the artist different approaches in the same document and, if your imagination has totally failed you, ask the artist to make something up.

In this way writing comics is easy.

In all the others ways, character, plot etc, it's just as hard as all the other ways to write.

(1) There's a famous case of a writer pitching the true story of how Elliot Ness's, famous for bringing down Capone,  next case was the torso killer - generally considered to be America's 1st genuine serial killer. The movie executive rejected the pitch because Elliot Ness was clearly under copyright to Paramount (who'd made The Untouchables). The writers tried in vain to explain that as a real historical figure it was, in fact, impossible to copyright his name and his adventures. The movie executive was unmoved - Elliot Ness was a fictional character and under copyright and that was an end to it.

(2) Well alright there's your editor and your colourist and the letterer but in the first instance you're writing for the artist.

1 comment:

Patrick Wirbeleit said...

I totally agree - especially the "if your imagination has totally failed you, ask the artist to make something up" bit. Although I try not to use that very often. But when I do I`ll find that "my" story always improove quite a bit by the creative input of my "fellow prfessional"!

Anyway. Looking forward to the "Rivers-Comic".