On the road!  I am excited now because the characters have taken off on a journey.  I say “a” journey because, obviously, this is not THE Journey, but it’s a journey.  It’s simple enough, but it took me a while to realize that all stories start with a false journey that lead to the real journey, and setting off on the false journey only means the real one is that much closer.  Also, a fun fact about today’s page: panel one’s scenery was drawn using real ink and brush.  It’s my first real non-digital ink work in a comic in 6 years.  It’s a little rough, but it was fun getting back to the bristol board and the black ink.  There will be more of these as this part of the story goes on, and I think they get better.

I was at Long Beach Comic Con last weekend and these guys from the KB Life came and gave me my first video interview about Bearmageddon.  Here I am in all my awkward on screen glory (comic artists. much like screen writers, were never intended to be put in front of a camera):

Also, a review of the comic was posted at Tired of Superheroes.  I appreciate the review, it is very kind and the only issue I took with it was nothing personal, only that the writer says this one line: “The title alone makes it clear that some of Malachai’s humor has rubbed off on Ethan…”.  I know the guy obviously doesn’t know that I created Bearmageddon pre-Axe Cop and Malachai’s influence was not a big part of my comics at the time.  It just feeds the fear I have that, because my big hit comic that launched my “career” is linked to my little brother, any time I do something good or bad from here on out, Malachai will be invoked in some way… if I write something lame I’ll be called the guy who is nothing without that kid, and if I write something good it becomes somehow traceable back to the real genius behind the curtain, my little brother.  And the latter is in some ways true, though not of Bearmageddon.  Working with Malachai on Axe Cop has had a huge impact on me for sure, and I will never deny that.  It’s helped me to see comics like a kid.  I know that, just as Vern Troyer will forever be known as “mini-me”, I will forever be known as the guy who makes comics with kids.  It’s mostly a blessing, but its inevitably a thing that will come up from here on out.  In the end, what’s most important is that this story entertains and does its job, not who gets credit for what.

With that, how about a Q&A?  This question comes from George:

I’m an aspiring writer. I’m hoping to become multifaceted and work in as many different mediums as I can manage, but I don’t want to do so without actually really understanding a medium first. I love comics, I read both web and print comics in both graphic novel format and strip format, but something I’ve always wondered is how a script for a comic should be done. If I was writing a script for a comic what might be a good way to go about it, and what should I include especially to help an artist who would be drawing things based off my scripts.

There isn’t one easy answer to this.  It really comes down to how specific you are about what you want, and how your artist likes to work.  Your typical comic book script tells the artist what to draw in each panel.  If you want examples, check out the Comic Book Script Archive.  Just look at a few and check out what they did.  I personally prefer to draw my comic from a screenplay.  I was introduced to working in this format by Doug TenNapel, because all of his graphic novels are just movies he hopes to see on the big screen some day.  The screenplay opens the artist up to more freedom, to interpret the action how they want to and to layout panels how they want to.  I am not a fan of being told how many panels I have to put on a page by a writer who has never designed or laid out a page in their life.  The obvious compromise is to write a traditional comic script and just make a note to the artist that they can be flexible with the panel and page layouts.  Another way to go about it would be to write a screenplay (which is great to have around anyway if Hollywood ever becomes interested in your work) and just make notes to the artist when you have a specific vision for the comic.  For instance, you may want a splash page at a certain point, so just note that to them.

The main thing is just to see how well your artist is at visual storytelling.  Try to get them to show you a few pages they drew, and to send the script/source material they worked off of.  A good artist and storyteller (they must be both) doesn’t need to be given a detailed road map.  They will work well with freedom.  But not a lot of artists are great storytellers.  I have seen scripts where the writer even penciled out thumbnails of all the pages for the artist.  Like I said, it really comes down to how specific you are, and how much you trust the artist.

Definitely get your artist to show you thumbnails or some sort of rough draft before they get to finished pencils or inks.  Avoid making them change things at those later stages because they will hate you.

Also, I know a lot of comic creators leave action sequences more wide open to artists.  I’ve heard of some who, at a fight scene just write “page 12: fight scene” and let the artist at it.

Your artist may want detailed instruction.  You just have to figure out what works best for them.  I have only drawn a handful of comics from other people’s scripts, and I would break script all the time, because I tend to see things a certain way when I read something and I can’t do anything but that vision in my head.  I have never had a writer unhappy with the changes I made… most often I would use more panels to convey an action sequence than they had given me.  Action takes a lot of space and writers usually aren’t real aware of that.

Sorry that answer wasn’t incredibly specific, but I don’t think there is a specific answer.  I do think you could get a better answer from guys who work for Marvel and DC, who draw from scripts all day long.  Next time you are a convention just ask 4 or 5 of them how they prefer their script, then ask a few writers.  In general though, comic scripts are the way they are for a reason, because the industry has been doing this for a while and they found what works best.  So if you want to get started, start there and you can deviate as you get the hang of things.

Thanks for reading!  See you all on Friday.







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