Comic storytelling is an essential element in a good comic book. Here at Online Comic Heroes one of my goals is to help aspiring artists and writers create strong stories that people will want to read. I am not professionally trained, most of what I know comes from research and practical experience. I have been interested in comic art for many many years now, since I was a teenager. I had never thought of myself as much of a writer, however I have worked hard to create believable and compelling stories. I hope this article helps you.
The artists work starts from a strong idea. If you are writing and creating your own art you are already visualizing what is happening as you put the words on the page. The tips I have picked up indicate write first, art after. I find many times ( okay almost always) I create the art and the dialogue comes next.
For purposes of instruction, let us look at the right way to do things. In comic storytelling you will either be given a "Plot" or a "Script" to work with. A plot gives you an over view of the story. You will have a few points to start from. You will have to decide the page layout and the dialogue that will be included. A script, will be much more inclusive. You will have panels numbered or suggested. A setting described for you and the characters dialogue. I would prefer working from a script myself.
Whatever one you start with, read it thoroughly. Go over it a number of times to take it in and capture details and mood. If you have the opportunity talk to the writer and pick their brain. If you are working as a team you can find you both will inspire each other with great ideas, often comic storytelling just flows out of a simple conversation on the goals of your comic.
Let me show you an example to start from. In an up coming issue of Man Power, I want to tell a story of my characters fighting crime back in the late 1960's or early 1970's.
Las Vegas has drawn countless visitors to the casinos and bright lights. Unfortunately organized crime saw the limitless possibilities and revenue there too. The Mob had a strangle hold over the city for decades. Man Power and his team want to stop crime cold. Over the past several years Man Power has directed a select handful of operatives to infiltrate the casinos and gambling dens of the city. With knowledge of future events Man Power has given his team tips that have won them tens of thousands of dollars. Other team members have worked their way as employees onto the floors for the target casinos. They know the mobs routines and how the money gets directed out of the casinos. The plan, cut off the flow of money going back to the heads of the family. Make the city the family friendly place we know it to be today.
Man Power War on Crime
Panel 1 -
Description: We want to see an iconic symbol that tells you it is Vegas. Perhaps the strip or the Vegas sign going into town. Make sure that the cars and dress are 60' or early 70's appropriate. Man Power will be driving the newest model of car popular at the time. Most likely a Dodge Charger (69).
Panel 2 -
Description: We come in close on Power's and see he is traveling with one of his most trusted operatives, (Fast Eddie) Eddie is in his usual tweed suite with flared collars showing.
Eddie: Why are we doing this sir? We have been raking it in with the betting tips you have been giving us. Why break up such a good thing?
Panel 3 -
Man Power: Eddie! This is mob money we are talking about. It is dirty money, even if we are using it to build schools and hospitals in the Third World. I want to drive them out. This can be a good place. A place one day families can come for entertainment.
Panel 4 -
Description: We see them parked across from a nondescript casino or hotel. An alleyway is visible with a sedan parked there in the shadows.
Eddie: Okay this is it. The driver, a gun man in the passenger seat and a courier with the months take. Usually between $100 000 and $250 000. There, they go.
Panel 5 -
Description: Sedan on a two lane black top, Man Power's car in close pursuit.
From here I would find my reference material. There are a few movies that spring to mind as well. "Casino" or the original "Ocean's 11". I want to know what the city looks like, find images of that time frame. You do have a little creative license, I like to be as close to accurate as I can be. Always be careful of copyright and things that you may need to get permission to use.
I worked hard at comic storytelling. I know I still have much to learn. If you are not a strong writer, work as hard as you can. Keep practicing, and if you know a good writer, stick with them. A strong team can finish projects a lot faster than one person working alone.
I can help you create your own comic book.
I work with creators and writers to bring their ideas to the page.