Robot 6

How NOT to write comics

Sara Ryan has advice for you

Sara Ryan has advice for you

Attention, aspiring comics writers and weary comics artists: Sara Ryan and friends are about to make your lives much easier. On her blog, Ryan and a few of her comics-making chums are offering advice for writers on what not to do when writing comics scripts for others to draw.

Ryan — who’s currently wrapping up the script for her upcoming DC/Vertigo graphic novel Bad Houseskicked things off by reminding us that it’s awfully hard to have a character do more than one thing per panel, even though it comes naturally to us to rattle off several actions in the course of a sentence.

Next up is Supergirl artist Ron Randall, who among other things notes that telling an artist to “impress me” with a particularly memorable scene or sequence is a roundabout way of insinuating that he or she otherwise isn’t all that impressive. And finally (for now), Family Man‘s Dylan Meconis offers seven tips, warning against everything from the overuse of film jargon to telling rather than showing to the dreaded words “Have fun with this!”

Given Ryan’s links to the seemingly ever-growing Periscope Studio, this could end up being quite a long-running recurring feature, so check back often!

(Via Hope Larson)

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Comments

5 Comments

The All-Smelling Nose of Agamotto

March 15, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I clicked on your “have fun” link, but I was hijacked to some stinking Caress site.

That blog is definitely getting bookmarked.

Nose: That’s an ad link–we don’t put them there.

Yeah, I always look to the Neil Gaiman script printed in one of the early Sandman trades, it’s very detailed, yet conversational and he explicitly explains what he NEEDS the reader to see, and sometimes offers a layout suggestion, but mostly he clearly explains the whys and whatfors, it reads like a long specific letter. He even addressed it to the artist.

I saw the no nos in the post and I thought “Why would anyone do those things?” I wrote 13 scripts back in the 90s in a fit of creative pique, I don’t think I used any of those cliches. I did rely on ‘int/ext’ cues, and I made sure I wanted the artist to work as much as he wanted on the pacing if he felt it was off, I broke things down page and panel, but was doing this mainly to get a set amount of story in each issue, I wanted to make sure I was putting enough material in the script, sometimes a story I planned for one issue wasn’t enough, I would then add things I was using as ‘b’ plots, it worked nicely, I was able to add more than I originally planned, and when the story took more than the 22 pages I was able to go over into the next issue, or rejigger and find a more dramatic breaking point.

The point was to teach myself how to convey a story in a script that wasn’t a Hollywood Script, which is a format I hate for it’s lack of detail, lack of connection with the reader (I do believe Gaiman described a script as a work for a very specific audience and he felt the need to keep them engaged, I saw wisdom in that,), Hollywood film scripts are clinical and boring to read, I don’t know how actors can read film scripts.

And yeah, I am so down with the hate for ‘captions with art that already gives you the same information’ , I hate that crap, lazy, uninspired writing. If you must prove you can craft a sentence, at least use a narrator or have the text add something to what we’re seeing. I won’t name names, but there are some really popular writers (at least in terms of the internets, one guy is a former EiC at Marvel who has a rabid fanbase for a character that has continually failed to keep a book alive) who are IMO horrible about this and ruin comics simply with their style.

And Don McGregor and Roy Thomas are my least favorite comic book writers, ever. They ruined a lot of great artwork with their hammy captions.

Best example of captions in the past 20 years was John Ostrander’s “The Man” (that’s what I always called it) voiced issues of Heroes For Hire, he wrote much of his stint on that book with a very informal narrator voice similar to early Marvel comics by Stan Lee. It added a level of humor and fun to the book.

This is all good information.

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