Comic books began as a dime-store novelty, and since then, they have gone through countless transformations, artistic explorations, public excises, declines and revivals. The history of comic book styles is one as dynamic as the stories they contain, shaped not only by the hands of countless writers and artists but by millions of readers across nearly a century. While there might not be any mutants or doomsday weapons in the actual history of comics, its panels are every bit as unpredictable. Continue reading from The Amazing Stylistic History of Comic Books
Every literary element that feels essential to a novel, short story, or screenplay—a compelling plot, steady character development, a classic three-act structure, vivid worldbuilding—also applies to the comic book format. If you’ve brainstormed story ideas and are ready to start writing your own comic book, here are some key pointers and writing tips that will help you master the artform:
1. Surround yourself with a brilliant team. Writing comics is very much a group effort. Anyone who knows how to write a comic book can tell you that it’s a collaborative process. The team that puts together comic books (as well as graphic novels, manga, webcomics, and other forms of sequential art) include editors, comic artists and illustrators, letterers, and colorists.
2. Trust your collaborators. Comics are an inherently collaborative art form, and a lot of people’s opinions and time schedules will be involved. Unless you plan to execute literally every part of the process yourself—from writing the full script to illustrating and inking to self-publishing—you will need to team up with others and respect their input. If you’ve assembled a smart and creative team, your colleagues’ opinions will make your final product that much better.
3. Understand basic story structure. Audiences expect the same elements from a comic script that they would expect from a traditional book, movie, or narrative podcast. In addition to a clear beginning, middle, and end, essential story elements include: a central narrative (or A-story) supplemented by optional subplots (or B-stories), character development; precise, carefully considered dialogue and narration; and thematic messaging (particularly popular in superhero comics). Comic book writers are typically well-versed in three-act structure.
4. Plan a story that can be serialized. A comic book author must be mindful of the ways that the comic book script format differs from other narrative forms. Traditionally comic scripts like Superman, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Incredible Hulk appeared in serialized fashion, with a new four-panel script debuting each day in the newspaper followed by a more substantive installment on Sundays. Continue reading from Masterclass