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Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'm promoting Michael Alan Nelson's comment to post 'cause it's so interesting and useful:
I've been asked to elaborate on my newbie mistakes and flat-falling techniques. So no laughing.

One of the main problems I had moving from writing prose to writing comic books was the limited space for my actual words. Since I'm quite fond of the sound of my own keyboard, I tend to dole out lengthy slabs of dripping prose. That works sometimes with standard fiction, but with comics there is only so much room to put text.

My first published graphic story was only 8 pages. When I first turned it in, half those pages were filled with dialogue so dense there would have been no room for the art. So my editor kicked it back and said "Cut." So I was forced to find the most economical way of saying what needed to be said, yet write it in a way that made it enjoyable for the reader. Needless to say, it was a painful learning experience.

In my second published graphic story, I had the same problem. Only this time it was with the art. I had too much information that needed to be crammed into two pages. And since I didn't have much experience with panel layout and writing a visual narrative, the artist had to struggle to get the story across effectively. He did a great job, but I'm sure he cursed my name several times during the process.

One thing I like to do in my prose is lay a little bit of pipe in the periphery. Just subtle things that happen off to the side that help establish the characters and their world without hitting the reader over the head with it. This can be done in comics too, but I just don't have that skill set yet to pull it off effectively.

It's all taken a little bit of adjusting. And moving back and forth between comics and prose can be especially draining. But I really enjoy the medium of comics. It opens up a way of story telling that I never had before.

Alex, you may also want to investigate some smaller publishers as well as Image. You might be able to get a book made without much, if any, money from your own pocket. You probably wouldn't have the name recognition that comes with Image(and the subsequent selling power), but it still could be beneficial. I'm published through a small publisher (BOOM! STUDIOS--sorry, had to plug)and even though they don't have the biggest name out there, they're known for quality comics. Just something for you to think about.


Comics, like film, is a visual medium where the Golden Rule is "Show, Don't Tell."

When I first started out I found myself counting the number of panels per page, the number of balloons and captions per panel, and the number of words per ballon in the average comic, just to give myself a benchmark. What I learned was that you gotta keep it dense. I mean really dense.

By Blogger Andy Diggle, at 11:33 AM  

Hi, if you are serious about getting into comics yhen you might want to contact Mark Shainblum of Matrix comics to get some insight into the Canadian market. He wrote Northguard in the '80s and co-created the Angloman series with his long time collaborator Gabriel Morrissette. His website is

By Blogger Hawise, at 2:01 PM  

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