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06 May 2006 @ 06:28 pm
comics, writing--you know, the usual  
I was poking around on DigitalWebbing the other day while I was looking for an inker for Chance, and came across a comics studio which will do pencils, inks & colors for your 8 or 22 page comic book for $600 to $2000. Then they'll help you find a PoD printer for it. (If you want to go check it out, go here and click on the "Custom comics starting at $599" ad.)

I thought this was absolutely fascinating. The art on the sample pages they've got isn't bad. It's ... one finds oneself being cautious in phraseology, here, but it's my damned journal, so: it's not good enough for me, or doesn't suit my tastes, however you want to put it. (Both are true, though it ought to be borne in mind that I'm pretty goddamned picky about my sequential art. There are a lot of comics being produced and hitting the shelves that have art I don't think is "good enough", so YMMclearlyV.) If I were a slightly different person, I would not object to doing my own personal comic book with one of the artists they have available.

(Being that I am who I am, even if I had found this site earlier, I would not have used their services for all the tea in China, or for my comic book either.)

The reason I am not linking directly to this site is because it seems mean to say, "The art's all right, but OMG the writing is SO BAD" and then link to it and possibly get some kind of feedback loop where some poor writer who is thrilled with his awful comic book gets his chops busted when he does a vanity search, or something. This is probably being too worried about the whole thing, but I really don't want to pick on individuals. It just doesn't seem very nice.

Because OMG THE WRITING IS SO BAD. It's...most of it not only doesn't seem to have much understanding of how to tell a story in comic book format (and frankly, I am not claiming I *have* a great understanding of that), but doesn't seem to have much understanding of how to tell a story at *all*. It is, I suspect, the moral equivilant of looking through a slushpile, although the art is of a better quality than I imagine a great deal of comic slush art is.



It is very damned interesting to me to look through this stuff, because it helps tell me I know what I'm doing, at least to a greater extent than some (possibly many) people. This shouldn't surprise me, but it almost always does. This writing comic scripts thing for me is still a learning experience and on a learning curve: my 11-beat synopsis for issue 3 gave me about 15-18 pages of story, leaving me with another 4-6 pages to decide what to do with. For me, that time translates into character development, but I'll be curious to see if once I'm done with this story arc, I am able to go to the next one and have the expectation of having enough room to do those character development pages. I'd been focused wholly on the action, bam bam bam, these are the plot points driving this particular issue toward its conclusion. The character development stuff is for the longer term story, so it obviously needs to be in there, but I didn't figure on it when I wrote the beatsheets.

It'll also be interesting, fifty issues from now, to look back and see what I could've done better. This is so *totally* unlike writing a novel, except when it's not. One doesn't typically let the first chapter of a novel go out and do its own thing and not plan for the fiftieth chapter to hit the shelves for almost five years, even if you have a pretty good idea of what *happens* in the 50th issue. (What with me not being Dickens and all, I mean.) And I don't really think of each issue as being a chapter, except it is, in a way. You don't typically have to have some kind of little summary of the last chapter at the beginning of the new one, no "Last Week On" sort of thing, and those are very handy to have in the first page or two of a superhero comic book. Not as critical, perhaps, in a single title as it is for, say, the X-Men, but useful for picking up new readers. Comic books should also, IMHO, manage to stand on their own as individual issues, so someone *could* pick up issue #3 and read it without being lost. (This is something that's a dying art in the X comics, at the very least. It's so convoluted and continuous at this point you really have to be pretty involved to get what's going on.) One doesn't expect a book chapter to stand on its own as a complete story (though I know there are writers who approach them that way).

There's the whole different format thing. The first script I wrote, I struggled with each panel, thinking about its layout on the page and trying to get it right before I went on to the next panel or wrote dialog or anything. By halfway through the third script, I am now usually writing a one-line sentence setting the first panel up, then writing all the dialog and text boxes, breaking those up when I /know/ I want it to go into a new panel, and writing some kind of one-line desc again for the new panel. Then I'm going back, adding panels, starting to think about layout, going into more detailed descriptions, and moving on to the next page. This is much *much* faster.

(Someone I know was offered the opportunity to write the Ultimate Iron Man, but turned it down due to a busy schedule and having never written comics before, and not having time to learn how to do it. I stabbed myself in the chest several times when I heard this, and gasped and staggered around in other appropriately dismayed ways, but I gotta say, if I had not learned three or four years ago *how* to write a comic script, there is absolutely no freaking way I would be trying to do Chance right now. As mind-crushing as turning down an Ultimate title was to me, I reaaaaaaallllllllllly couldn't blame this person for doing so, given the reasons stated. Still, the augh!)

This got badly off-topic somehow. :)


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(Anonymous) on May 7th, 2006 10:07 am (UTC)
You meanie!
Not liking the writing!

What, and like you know anything about writing?!? ;) It's not like you've ever written a book or anything.

No, wait, you've written TONS! And you're brilliant! And I still wanna be a Catie-minion!

I know exactly what you mean with the not wanting to link directly. It's a rotten double edged sword, wanting to be honest and tell the truth, but knowing it might hurt someone uncesessarily and bite you in the ass, too. {{hugg}} All you can do is just what you've done. Be honest, but in an oblique sort of way.

CHANCE is going to kick butt!

Love, hugs and kisses,

tam
kit: chancemizkit on May 7th, 2006 11:36 am (UTC)
Re: You meanie!
I adore you, Tam. *grin*

I know how to tell a story, sure. I'm better at telling a story in comic book format than most people are, I expect. But I'm still not claiming to have any *great* understanding of that style of storytelling. By the time I'm done with Chance I think I'll probably have a pretty good grasp on it, though. :)

*hugs*! :)
Evil Headdrivingblind on May 8th, 2006 09:36 pm (UTC)
Hunh, I'm not seeing a 'starting at 599'. I'll take your word for it. :)