Creating your own comic book

A little bit about me…

My name is Matt Wilson and I am the writer of two independent comic book titles: Dark Fury and Soul Vamp. I have been writing for these two titles for six years now. Not only do I right but I also do a majority of the computer work as well which includes: Using Photoshop to enhance and prepare images for print, Digital coloring, Web design, and creating marketing materials. Our business has been successful enough for us to continue to create more books. If you have any questions for me, you can email me at Webbcomics@hotmail.com

Creating a comic book: Introduction
The steps that I discuss here are what my artist and I go through to create a 32 page black and white printed comic book with a full colored cover. The process for us takes 4 months but these steps below can be easily modified to fit any classroom assignment. Another possibility (one I myself would like to pursue) would be to create an after school group interested in creating and publishing an anthology of student short stories (3-5 pages) or illustrated poetry or letters. In any case, I have broken the steps up based on the kind of work involved during each phase.Resources:
The following are great resources for creating comic books. Depending on what form you want your comic to take (Printed comic or Web comic) each site offers a great deal of possibilities.

Comic Book Creator – Great for creating online comics or for doing an in class comic book for a lesson.
Comix Press – Great for getting your material printed and distributed.

Creating a Comic Book: Something you should consider.
The first thing that needs to be done is what type of comic book you want to create (what is the medium you wish to present in?). The two choices are a web comic or a print comic. Both will involve the same creative work but have different costs to keep in mind. With a web comic, you need to keep in mind the cost of the web space and the extra time needed to create and maintain the web page. This is a cheaper way to go but more time consuming. With a print comic, you need to keep in mind the number of pages versus the cost of printing the book (web comics have no limit). Also, if you want to print in color, the cost of printing goes up. If you are looking for students to do this as an assignment then these should concern you unless you want to display the students work (I would recommend the website for that purpose).

Creating a Comic Book: Step 1

First, students should pick and research their topic material. If you are having them write something based on Plato’s Gorgias then they need to be familiar with the subject matter.

Next, you will want your students to create all of their characters and settings for the story. It is important to have the students understand the world that they are creating for their characters to live in (researching helps a lot of students).

Now it is time for students to know your ending for the story. I was in a conference once with writer Harlan Ellison who passed on this sage like advice. He said that it was important for any writer to know how they wanted a story to end before the even begin writing. A good analogy of why this is important is like when we get in our cars and drive. If we don’t have a destination, how will we know when to stop? With a clear ending in mind, even if we deviate and take the scenic route with our writing, we can still find our way back to our main goal.

Once we know our ending, the next step is to outline the story, making sure to hit all key plot points.

* Regarding outlining:
For some students outlining a story is all that is really necessary to get started. If they are working by themselves and producing the are as well, they may already have the story images in their head. If the students are working together, there are two different schools of thought on outlining.

One idea is called the Marvel Method. This method has the writer create an outline with very little scene description and dialog. It is up to the artist to interpret and create the visuals that will move the story along. Afterward, the writer will go back in and finalize the dialog that completes the comic. This is the method that I employ with my artist, but we also have a good working relationship.

The other method is the exact opposite. This method has the writer create every detail for the artist to follow. These are usually full scripts complete with dialog and descriptions.

In both cases, they script needs to be read and put through the writing process. This is where plot holes are caught and corrected as well as spelling and grammar mistakes. It is also a good time to check the flow of the story.

Once the outline/script is complete it is now time for the artist to do his job.

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