Writing Comics: A Comprehensive Guide | Stefan Petrucha | Skillshare

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Writing Comics: A Comprehensive Guide

teacher avatar Stefan Petrucha, Author, Teacher, Beggar Man, Thief

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (2h 49m)
    • 1. WComics L1 Intro

    • 2. WComics L2 Comic Basics

    • 3. WComic L3 On Reading Comics

    • 4. WComics L4 Writers Role

    • 5. WComics L5 Pitches

    • 6. WComics L6 Word and Art

    • 7. WComics L7 Descriptions Pt 1

    • 8. WComics L8 Descriptions Pt 2

    • 9. WComics L9 Words Reader Sees

    • 10. WComics L10 Redundancy

    • 11. WComics L11 Comics for a Living

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About This Class

NOT a course in drawing, but a comprehensive look at creating comic books specifically for the writer. These two hours and forty minutes of video lectures by comic veteran Stefan Petrucha combine nuts-and-bolts tips, rules and insider info with easy-to-understand theory. They cover everything from the basics, to panel descriptions that inspire visuals, character-driven dialogue, the writer’s relationship with the artist and the industry, and much more. Not just about superheroes, the course treats the graphic novel as an open medium capable of expressing any content from genre to poetry.

Meet Your Teacher

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Stefan Petrucha

Author, Teacher, Beggar Man, Thief


Stefan Petrucha has written over 20 novels and hundreds of graphic novels for adults, young adults and tweens. His work has sold over a million copies worldwide. He also teaches online classes through the University of Massachusetts.

Born in the Bronx, he spent his formative years moving between the big city and the suburbs, both of which made him prefer escapism. A fan of comic books, science fiction and horror since learning to read, in high school and college he added a love for all sorts of literary work, eventually learning that the very best fiction always brings you back to reality, so, really, there’s no way out.

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1. WComics L1 Intro: lecture, one whys and wherefores, in which I basically introduced myself in the course and provide a summary of what will be covered. Hey, I'm author Stefan for Trickett. I've written over 20 books from major publishers and hundreds of stories for comics and graphic novels. Some of what you may have heard of, some of which you may not, but I'd really like it if you had. For several years now, I've been teaching online courses through the University of Massachusetts, including this one, which is, you might guess from. The title is specifically geared toward learning how to write comics. Why would I want to teach writing comics? Partly because, well, given my background, I can, but also because there are two popular misconceptions about comic books and the writing thereof that I'd like to do my small part to correct. To explain. The first years back, I was on a convention panel with several major famous comic writers where I meekly said, Wouldn't it be great if comics were accepted by the mainstream right alongside TV, movies and books? A particularly famous comic book writer immediately corrected May. You can't say comics aren't mainstream superhero movies earning billions. All due respect to those who have many more fans than I do know. Just know. The only thing the success of mainstream superhero movies proves is that superheroes or mainstream the superhero is a genre, a template for storytelling. Comics, graphic novels, sequential art Whatever term you want to use is a medium like television film were pros while superheroes historically developed in the comic medium. You don't need comic books to tell superhero stories any more than you need superheroes to create comics as a medium comics comptel any type of story from any genre. Romance. Har postmodern dubious narratives. Stream of conscious odes to your calico cat, whatever. As a combination of words and pictures, comic books could do anything. Words and pictures canoe on their own and arguably more. The second misconception is more specific to the writing side of comics. A lot of folks both in and out of the industry think that deep down comic book writers are just frustrated artist folks who love comics so much that they settle for the lesser role of writer just to be near them. Not everyone thinks that way, but the fact is, while no one ever assumes that I paint the covers for my novels. If someone discovers I'm a comic book writer, their most common question is, Can you do a sketch for me? And the second? What do you mean you don't draw? I understand the confusion. Artwork is a huge part of the comic experience. Comic artists tend to earn more accolades and having the rarer skill actually have an easier time finding work. Why is that skill rarer, partly because most schools dropped teaching visual communication right after kindergarten finger paint. But it's also because the writers aren't verbal. Storytelling is deeply embedded in how we think texting, chatting, whatever we think, breathing each stories. Some professional writers take great offense when just anyone sits down and thinks they can write a story. But too bad, it's true. Anyone can, uh, don't get me wrong. Creating a story isn't the same, is getting someone to pay for it. It's not even the same is getting someone to listen to it for free. Professional writing involves a wealth of practice, skill and talent that's very much able to the practice, skill and talent involved in becoming an artist because of our basic verbal predisposition , though a comic book artist without a writer can easily take a stab at doing their own stories. A writer without an artist, though it's stuck. There is also a common argument that great art in a comic can save lousy writing. But great writing can never save lousy art. First off, I don't know that that's true. I could easily imagine a few lines from Emily Dickinson completely saving page after page of Crayon Scroll. The other problem with that argument is that it's about saving the worst rather than creating the best. Like you know, combining a great artist was a great writer. Of course, not every writer becomes Dickinson. Not every art Divinci or choose your own favorite, but just his words and pictures have the potential to do more together than apart. When writers and artists play to their strengths, the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. In the end, the writer and artist are equal partners and what's really the only important part of the process the creation of the fictive world that the reader enters anyway as a result of these biases, real or imagined, practical or ego driven while there are tons, of course, is books and videos about drawing comics. Very few focus exclusively on writing. Unlike this one, which consists of 11 exciting video lectures providing both captivating comic writing theory and a plethora of nuts and bolts, pragmatic advice and rules, those lessons are whys and wherefores. What you're watching now in which I talk about everything I've talked about up until now, including this comic book Basics, in which I'll be discussing comic book formats, comic book terms like panels and splash pages where the words go from, how to read a comic on reading comics and which will get under the hood a bit to talk about what makes comic books work right there. Inherently different from Fillmore pros and at the same time equally valid as a form of entertainment, education and self expression. The writers role, which covers the mainstream comics workflow and how it influences both the way writers are paid and the way they create stories. I also discussed the two most common forms writers, artists and editors used to collaborate the marvel way, and the full script pitches springboards in the summaries, which covers story basics. How writers pitch stories out of fit content into that short space and how the process of summarizing reflects two distinct but compatible writing methods. Word and Art, which covers the way words and pictures change one another. What exactly constitutes comic book from the seven categories of word picture relationships described by Scott McCloud in his book making comics panel Descriptions Part one, which covers dramatic versus physical descriptions. Visible and invisible and story design. How to use film terms in comic scripts. And how to imply panel composition without spelling it out. Panel descriptions Part two, in which we cover what order to best present all the elements of a panel description. Motivating movement between panels and pages. How much fits wear and how to choose the right panel size and subject. Theo Words the reader Sees, which covers how to write in the limited space of a panel. Deal with exposition break up Dialogue for Impact for Three Ways Dialogue defines character and, lastly, the limits of dialogue. Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy. If you see one lecture this year, it should be this, especially if you want to write comics for three categories of redundancy I describe here. Will help hone your writing so that it's both effective and fits in a panel. I also discuss under what circumstances redundancy can actually be useful. And, lastly, writing comics for a Living, which covers formatting specs, my own experience with the industry from the three basic paths between your work and the reader, mainstream comics, book publishers and self publishing. And that, as they say, makes a complete set. Thanks for listening. So far. Any questions Feel free to get in touch through the dashboard. Meanwhile, I'll look forward to pretending to see you in the next lecture way. 2. WComics L2 Comic Basics: lecture to comic book basics, in which I'll be discussing comic book formats, comic book terms like panels and splash pages where the words go from, how to read a comic. Hi, I remain Stefan Patrica. If you're a regular comics reader, a lot of this will be old news. But not only have I often had students coming to comics for the first time through this course, which is fantastic, by the way, some of the terms here very and overlap in ways that can be confusing. As you'll see right now with publishing formats and the first lecture, I pointed out that the superhero stories a genre while the comic book is a medium and that one is often conflated with the other, the same sort of thing happens with the medium and the format. It appears it starting with the term comic book itself when it comes to the medium, some prefer the term sequential art. But whenever I use it, I still usually find myself adding, you know, comic books, others like graphic novel, but that can refer to not only a print format but the length of the content. Here. I'm gonna stick to comics and comic books because, frankly, it's the easiest. In any case, the overlap in terms is something of a mess, which I'm in no position to fix, but at least I can try to describe. So the format most associated with the comic book and magazines is called Saddle Stitch, which consists of slick covers and interior pages folded in stables in the center. As an historical note, 1930 three's famous funnies is usually credited. Not only is the first Saddle Stitch comic book, but as the first comic book which brings us to our first collision of form and content. See Famous Funnies was a collection of comic strips that originally appeared in newspapers . Comic strips were so named because they were usually funny, comic and appeared on a single row of 1 to 4 pals, a strip. And if you sure ears, though comic books were specializing in longer, multi page stories, that difference in length became the popular distinction between them and comic strips problem being. By the 19 forties, things like realizes the spirit appeared in newspapers, taking up more than a strip. They occupied several pages of the Sunday color section, which was known as the funnies Don't get Me started. So to recap, a reprints of comic strips is considered the first comic book, even though you wouldn't call a comic strip a comic book, despite the fact that comic strips can contain the same sort of long form content as a comic book. Got it anyway. Saddle Stitch books are generally printed in color, though independence and Self publishers sometimes up for black and white interior art for financial and or aesthetic reasons. Next up in the square bound format, the pages air glued to the spine, giving it a square shape, they could be soft cover, also known as paperback or hardcover. Sometimes a square bound comic containing original material is called a graphic novel, as opposed to a collection of saddle stitch issues, which might be called a trade paperback, or TP Be at the same time. Others define graphic novel on the basis of content as a single novel length story that could have originally appeared in the saddle stitch format. Allan Morin Dave Gibbons Watchman, for instance, was originally saddle stitch before being collected into a single volume on another historic note, the first hardcover comic book, or at least proto comics is It didn't have Word Balloons was called The Adventures of Mr Obadiah Old Book that was published in Europe in 18 37 on the U. S. In 18 42. Another interesting example of an early graphic novel is 1970 ones, Black Mark by Gil Kane, which was printed in a more standard, smaller size mass paperback format. Next up, there's Manga, which has its own rich, complicated history, basically referring to a Japanese comic book. Manga is also associate it with a particular art style that goes back to the 19th century. The more modern version originated in the late 19 forties with and Forgive My Pronunciation macho, Hasegawa's says I Asan and Suzuko, Osama's sheen Tucker Rahima In Japan, manga encompasses dozens of genres, and it accounts for something like 40% of the publishing market. Rather than completing a story in a single book, manga tails tend to cover multiple volume. Monica also refers to the common publishing format used for the material a k a Tokyo pop trim, its square bound about five inches by 7.5 inches, generally with color covers and black and white interiors. Lastly, we have digital comics, which thankfully purchase digital comics regardless of their length or content, though I suppose you could call them digital sequential art if you really wanted to. They're available either his Web content or downloadable files. Digital comic could be presented an image at a time, a page at a time. We're on what Scott McCloud called an infinite canvas that treats the screen as more window than a page. Comic strips, comic books, graphic novels and manga can all, of course, be digitized. While the format terminology has its issues. Ha ha! When you get to the actual parts of a comic theme, terminology calms down considerably. And with minor exceptions, everyone's pretty much talking about the same thing. For instance, the box usually surrounding each image, is pretty much always called a panel, and the panel is the basic unit of composition. For both the writer and the artist, the panel can be any shape, even invisible. The boundaries or panel borders can be broken for various effects, as in this example from 1904 by Winsor McCay. How the panels are placed on the page is crucial for the reader to be able to follow along . It can also be a key part of the pages aesthetic composition. We'll talk about how many panels stood on the page later, but when you've got just one, it's called a splash. Bait there used to overwhelm the reader with the importance of the image, as in these examples. Then there's the double page splash or double page spread for the sort of thing even a splash page cannot possibly hope to contain. When your scripting. It's important to remember that since Page one generally appears on the right side of a printed comic, any double page spread has to begin on an even numbered page that takes care of the pictures. Now let's look at the words In comics. The words appear in five basic forms. Word balloons, thought balloons, bursts, captions and sound effects. Some people use bubble instead of balloon. I suppose it depends on what you were taught, but to justify my own bias, I'll point out that by the time you get to the bubbly shape of a thought bubble, it gets confusing. So balloons, anyway, a word balloon is an oval surrounding spoken dialogue, with a tail pointing at the speaker. Anything in a word balloon is assumed to be set allowed by the character. This is as opposed to, Ah, thought balloon. Ah, bubbly or cloud like shape surrounding unspoken words, with a trail of small cloud bubbles indicating the source. They're used for an internal voice, anything a character doesn't want, overheard or even something more invasive, like the voice of a possessing demon. When you just have to scream, there's the burst, a large, jagged word balloon indicating volume beside from shouting. It can also be used for a loud sound effect. The more sedate caption. A rectangle traditionally with a yellow background as a few uses it can surround the third person narrative or indicated by quotes the voice of a character or characters that are displaced from the current. Seen either physically is in this example or emotionally, as in this example. Last but not least, we have sound effects. Sound effects can be words like bang or smash or a collection of letters indicating non verbal sounds like or, more famously, snick orthe whip. They can be incorporated into the image itself, as in this example by the legendary Jack Kirby, presented in a burst or for a subtler effect in a caption. I've already covered the five ways words appear, but beyond that, the panels on each page are red left to right, and then now, within the panel, it works the same way the words are read, left to right and top to bottom, at least of their place properly. If they're not, things get more difficult, and the poor readers left trying to piece things together from contact. Of course, not every languages read left to right, and so neither are their comics. A lot of manga, even when translated into English, keeps the flow of the original, in which case the panels flow right to left, then down. While the balloons within the panels likewise follow the right left down pattern, fans consider working against their reading habit to be part of the fun others not so much . In any case, if you hope to introduce someone to comics using this sort of manga, warn them about how to read it unless you don't like them or don't care about spreading the medium, and that's it for the basics. As I said in the beginning, a lot of this is second nature to regular comic readers. As for me, comic books is how I was taught to read. So I'm always a little surprised when I run into someone who has trouble making sense of them. But ultimately there's no more reason to expect someone to be comic literate. Then there is to expect them to understand a foreign language. And as we'll see in the next lecture, the language of comics has several aspects that make it particularly unique. I'll see their same bat time, same bat, channel, way, way. 3. WComic L3 On Reading Comics: lecture three on reading comics and which will get under the hood a bit to talk about what makes comic books work right there, inherently different from Fillmore pros and at the same time equally valid as a form of entertainment, education and self expression. Hey, I'm still Stefan Petricka, and I'll begin this lecture with another anecdote because, well, sometimes people like them. So there it was, promoting the Nancy Drew graphic novels at the annual New York Book Expo, when an attendee approached, glanced at our hard work on the iconic girl detective and said with a wistful shrug. Now kids don't have to read them. After all, it was a comic book, not a book book. For me. That offhand comment neatly captured three longstanding and completely incorrect beliefs about comics. First, that the content is it best superficial and at worst, emotionally, intellectually or morally damaging. Second, that the form itself is somehow inherently inferior to, say, book books. And third, perhaps most interestingly, that comics somehow aren't read. This first bit of nonsense has not only been around a long time over centuries, it's been applied to all sorts of things from 18 nineties dime novels to 19 fifties horror comics, which, by the way, brought about a congressional hearing on how they cause juvenile delinquency. It even goes up to everyone's favorite idiot box television and most recently, to the terrible video games of today, which are, as we speak, turning the billions of people who play them into mindless, desensitized killers. I know, yeah, cell phones. Funny thing, though. It even goes all the way back to the first mass produced novels. You know, book books I have seeing to pour, just consulted parents, drop into premature graves, miserable victims to their daughters, dishonor and was novel reading. The cause of this I answer. Yes, that's from novel reading and cause of female depravity, published 17 97 And if it sounds familiar by now, it should. The second issue relates directly to the medium itself, as if there's some core component of a given communication mode that prevents it from producing anything other than drivel. It's why television was once called the boob tube. Despite this stunning dramas aired on it since the 19 fifties, and many still have no idea the video games could be used to tell stories with novel like depth. Whenever this I don't know, unreasoning fear gets applying to something new. It's proponents always insists No. This time it's different when it's demonstrably not. In other countries, such as France or Japan, comics are accepted as a valid art form, right along film and, yes, book books in the U. S. However, this peculiar bias remains to be completely fair. More and more United States educators look to comics for reluctant readers, but they're still primarily used to draw students into books the real thing rather than as an end unto themselves. Despite many inroads into high literature by author artists such as Art Spiegelman with Mouse or Marjan Satrapi with perceptiveness, to name just two, the combination of words and pictures is still often considered, somehow less. Why? No doubt a lot of factors shape this attitude, but the argument itself seems based on that third belief that comics aren't red there, I don't know, looked at in some weird way that doesn't deeply engage the mind. But this objection implies an even more ridiculous corollary argument that visually communicated information is inferior to written communication. That much is easily disproven, while pictures and words have their own strengths and limitations. Anyone moved by a great painting or photograph knows the incredible power of images. The other misconception is, I think, the big sticking point. Sure, everyone realizes you have to read what's in the balloons and the captions. But for some, having the pictures there makes a comic seem too easy to follow more like a reading primer than the real deal. Almost like it's cheating, as in What do I have to draw a picture for you? But a comic book isn't a reading primer, unless you know it's designed is one same as a book or a video might be. The thing is, in comics, the sequence of images and their relationship to the words have a grammar all their own. A grammar that's capable of communicating in ways is simple and as complex as any other language. There's actual research to back that up, including a 2012 study that showed that the same parts of the brain used in reading are also used to make sense of sequential images. But one of those parts of the brain doing and what makes it is good or even better than reading a book or looking at a painting. In the case of any media, the brain is using some form of coded instructions to create a fictive world. Fictive simply meaning? Not really. If you're reading about something that actually happened, those events aren't happening. While you're reading them right, your brain is providing a representation of those events. When reading pros, the brain does that by looking at a bunch of lines that it's been trained to interpret his words. I write dog. You picture a dog, I write bark. You hear this out. Similarly, with a drawing, the brain interprets a bunch of flatlines, has something occupying three dimensional space. I show you this. You see your face. Of course, aside from effective physical world, words and pictures can also express the non physical things like interstates and abstract ideas. But I'd argue that this is only possible is a variation on the brain's ability to internally represent the physical. That's where it's tux. We had to live in the world before we lived in our heads, but this is complicated enough, and I don't want to get too far out into the weeds. So comics, when encountering the image in a comic book panel, the same as it does with any picture. The brain creates a fictive, three dimensional world. Now, however, it also creates one any movement that the image implies. Two additional details based on the words three. A relationship between the images and the words, and four any events taking place between the panels. So there are some extra steps. Yes. Aside from that, though, is there anything different about the fictive world we get from comics? Then what we might get from other media. Do you want to read? Why not read a book? If you want to see his story in pictures, why not get your film? What's the difference? Partly, it's about control, partly your involvement in the process. In a book, you not only provide all the sounds and images, you can choose to read the same passage over and over, or skim ahead, deciding what the linger on and when to move forward or back. Your engagement with the fictive world vanishes the moment you stop thinking about it, and film or video Thean images and sounds are provided for you, so you can't imagine. And while you can certainly pause video or walk out of the theater. The experience itself plays out in real time beyond the control of the viewer. Comics exists between the two provided visuals, but also more reader involvement and control. That's part of it, but there's also a more subtle difference. To try to get it. That let's look at how three different media, film pros and comics express the same event. An explosion here film has a unique advantage. We see and hear the blast in real time with a good sound system. We feel it rattle our bones. No description can do that and any illustration and best presents a single moment frozen in time. Now consider the thoughts of a character caught in that explosion. I don't know if my eyes were open or closed, but all I saw was a bright red orange glow, as if I run the insects. Standing on the tip of a birthday candle, a number almost peaceful sensation watched over me. I assumed it meant I was already dead, and then the shock wave hit. Of course, an actor can say all that, no doubt better than I just did, but their voices inherently external, making it, by definition, less intimate and less like thinking itself. And prose. The voice the reader here's is always their own party's generated by your mind and in that sense, yours. And it's generated as thought by and in your brain. In a comic, the words would be broken up by balloons and captions. Prose presents them is an uninterrupted stream again, closer to the feeling of consciousness itself. Because of that, I'd argue that pros gets closer to reproducing a character's thoughts and in an explosion, then film or comics film. The visceral aspect. Prose the characters into perspective. But what medium best conveys the character's thoughts and the explosion at the same time? In case you haven't guessed because of the unique way it combines the two modes, it's comics that may explain a bit about the medium strength, but not necessarily why the form can be so compelling with all sorts of concept. Have a final answer for that, but I think at least part of the reason goes back to the way the brain constructs any fictive world, which in turn is based on the weight, perceives and interprets reality. Specifically the unavoidable difference in the way we see and the way we hear things also known as thean electable modality of the visual and the in electable modality of the auditory. Simply put, we always hear things in time. One sound after the other, but we always see things in space one thing next to another. True, the alphabet does appear in space, and the letters are next to one another. But rather than images they represent sounds indoctrinated since birth, when we read those areas of the brain associated with hearing light up. So when it comes to a comic, the brain does double duty. And yes, I said duty. It's interpreting one bunch of lines of sounds that take place in time while interpreting another bunch of lines as objects occupying space. That may seem like a long walk for a relatively simple conclusion, but I think that crossing of brain functions creates a pleasant fund natural high. So to come back around to that original anecdote about kids no longer having to read Nancy Drew, now that they're graphic novels, I'd say that not only do you read when you look at a comic, you put in and potentially get back a lot more. Next up, it's time to get into the nuts and bolts with the writers role. For now. Farewell, my brave hobbits way, way. 4. WComics L4 Writers Role: lecture for the writers role, which covers the mainstream comics workflow and how it influences both the way writers are paid and the way they create stories. I also discussed the two most common forms writers, artists and editors used to collaborate the Marvel way and the full script. I'm Stefan Petricka, whom you may recall from my previous lectures wise and wherefores and beneath the dignity of the apes, whatever the medium, all writing involves storytelling thes days. Making a sale also means knowing how to get that story across in very short order. That's a result of three basic factors. The number of writers meaning many, the way the vast majority are employed, meaning freelance and the way most publishers require content meaning on a regular basis. It wasn't always exactly like this during Hollywood studio error. You could actually get a salary as a junior writer with benefits and vacation time. Today, salaried staff writing positions barely exist in Hollywood, and they never existed in comics other than self publishers and minor historic works. Comic creators, writers and artists have always been freelance, meaning they get paid by the job typically per page, with possible additional payments based on sales. Editors and production staff, on the other hand, are usually on salary. Well, you may ask yourself, Why is that? Doesn't it make more sense to have the creators, the people at the core of producing your product as the ones on salary? Well, partly for the publishers, it's a way to keep content fresh and flexible to meet ever changing audience tastes. Publishers always need support staff, but who knows when a given creators work will stop selling, Grassley put. Why buy the cow when you can just pay for the milk? Ah, it is more complicated than that. For both sides, the freelance deal also makes it easier for the rare creator who it's a big to make more based on the sales of their work. In those studio days, those salaried writers worked on scripts together, but they didn't share in the films. Profit back then, Once mastering your craft, you could leave that reliable salary behind and negotiate a better deal more directly related to the prophet that your work produces. Today, it's just freelance turtles all the way down. Freelancers accept the deal, thinking they'll be the one to hit it big they also accept it because if you want to work in the mainstream, there's no choice. Now that the Internet provides a free proving grounds for creators in their work, there's little motive for a publisher to invest in nascent talent rather than hiring a known quantity. To be clear, it's not as if freelancers have no career path. The more popular their work becomes, the more options they have about who to work for, what to charge, on what kind of work they dio. That's his true for carpenters, as it is for comic book writers. But job security to quote the cowardly lion. No, how, No way, Thea. The reason the system developed this way is that need for regular content in order to exist . Mainstream comic publishers not only have to provide product on schedule, they have to do so in a way that generates consistent sales. Daily newspapers need daily content. Monthly comics need monthly content from the start. That strict dependence on schedule necessitated a more reliable assembly line approach to production. Faced with an occasional gap in the line, rather than having someone collect a salary just in case you need them, it made more sense to call in a freelancer. Importantly is part of that mindset. Creating content is looked on as a more piecemeal mechanical process. It sounds like a factory mindset. It is, but I'm absolutely not saying that's creatively inferior. Sure, some lone genius spending years on a single project can produce incredible results. But despite those claiming no great art could be created by committee, there's no shortage of brilliance coming out of the writing rooms that produce things like breaking bad. In fact, producing on a regular basis will hone creative skills the same way Exercise builds muscles for about 10 years, is a freelancer for eggman publishing. I pitched six or seven comic book stories a month, starring Mickey Mouse and Friends. That work resulted in over 500 stories published in 34 different languages. Sometimes in the Dead of Night, I wake up screaming, character driven plot ideas and 100 words or less. But that practice and quickly and constantly coming up with interesting, entertaining stories was invaluable. Likewise, the assembly line workflow does impact the way a freelance your rights, and it does it in more ways than one. I get into more specifics next lecture. But at heart alone, Novelist generally sells their work after it's complete their starting places arbitrary, a win, a sudden inspiration or a call from the Muse. Freelance comic writers, on the other hand, present or pitch several ideas before starting on the script. Whichever idea appeals, most of the editor becomes the one that has to be completed on time rather than a weight inspiration. The freelancer has to call them use and hope that the answer, once the story idea has been sold to basic methods developed for the writer artist in editor to work together within the production flow. Generally, they're called the Marvel Way and the full script. At least that's what I'm calling them. I hear Marvel pretty much works with full scripts these days, But since as far as I know they spearheaded this six stage method, I'm still calling it the Marvel way for the sake of brevity. This diagram excludes the harried, hardworking editor who provides notes and approvals every step along the way. Now let's take a closer look at each phase with an accent on the two steps that directly involve the writer, the plot and the script and the plot. The writer describes the story seen by seeing Broken Down by comic book page for a typical 22 page monthly. Ah plot will run about 3 to 5 pages. Plots can but usually don't include snippets of dialogue. My Nancy Drew graphic novels for paper cuts were actually written his full scripts, but as an example, here's what the plot might have looked like for the 1st 1 The demon of River Heights Page one. We open with a cliff hanger literally. Nancy hangs by your fingers from a cliff over the Rushing River page to her boyfriend. Ned tries frantically to reach her, but fails and she plummets. Page three. Actually, Nancy and Co. Are watching the dailies from an indie film being made by two quarreling film students. It's about a made up creature called the River Heights Demon and so on. Feel free to pause and read the rest. Note that I don't describe the characters appearance, since they've already been established in this case by show Marassi. If you're writing, say Spiderman, you really don't have to describe his costume. Everybody already knows. Once approved, the plot goes to an artist who pencils or rough each page, creating panels, figures and background. While some are still use actual paper, many work entirely on computer. From there, a photocopier print out of the Ruff's goes back to the writer who uses them to compose the script. This script includes all the words the reader will see captions, dialogue in any sound effects that the hardest hasn't already included as a design element . Rather than put the words on the art they're saving. In a separate document, the writer then uses a magic marker or it's digital equivalent on the roofs, indicating their placement with appropriate shapes that are numbered to correspond with the script. To show you what that looks like. Here's the script for our Nancy Drew example. Alongside the numbered rough in larger publishing houses with multiple deadlines, the plot writer could be different from the script writer in that case, to go back to our old pal Fund with terminology, the plot writers sometimes credited with the story to distinguish them from the script writer. While on very rare occasions I've been able to ask for changes further along in the process , much more often with the script, the writer's work is done and they move on to the next project. Meanwhile, the script and roofs are sent to a letter actually combines the words with the art, being sure not to cover up any crucial story or aesthetic aspects. Lettering is much easier by computer, but some still letter by hand. Like my pal Rick Parker, hand lettering have properly done, like Rick does produces more personal, engaging results. The lettered roofs are next sent to the artist for Finishes or ANC's, where blacks texture and detailer at the artist who did the roofs usually handles the finishing. But again, that's not always the case. And there've been many famous pencil er anger partnerships over the years. Lastly, but definitely not least the colorist ads. As you might guess, the colors. That's the Marvel way released what I've called the Marvel way, the other option, which has been around nearly as long. But it's much more common these days, is the full script. The full script alters the flow by eliminating the plot stage, putting things at least initially, much more in the writer's control. Each panel is described upfront, and all the captions, dialogues and sound effects are spelled out, I devote not one but two lectures to creating these descriptions. But briefly angles, panel size and sometimes even page layouts could be included, depending on the particular writer artist working relationship. Once a full script is completed, approved the writers pretty much finished, and the rest of the flow proceeds the same way as an example. Here's the actual full script from the first page of that same Nancy Drew graphic novel, and here's what the final page looked like as rendered by the talented show Morass E. To get a sense of how these methods differ creatively. Note how Ned Nickerson's face isn't visible. That's fine visually, but it's not how I originally pictured the scene. Had this been done the Marvel way, I would have seen the art and may have used Nancy's narration to reference the fact that the reader is looking at the back of Ned's head. Which brings us to our last brief topic. Is one format better than the other? The answer, which probably won't surprise you, is it depends. Each method has clear advantages and disadvantages at heart. The full script is much more akin to a film or television script, with the notable exception that the pictures don't move, it gives the writer much greater control over the pacing and story access in the Marvel way . Though seeing the rough art lets the writer more effectively tailor their words to the images, it's easier to imagine what a face might say when you can see it. It also makes it easier to ensure the words will fit, potentially creating more organic result. But great comics have resulted from both methods. On the one hand, Stanley might simply ask Jack Kirby to draw an incredible battle for three pages, and he would. On the other end, Alan Moore is well known for his long, rambling, informal and brilliant scripts, as evidenced here by his description of the first panel of the first page of his legendary Watchman script In conclusion. While you'll probably find yourself working with these forms at some point, keep in mind that in the end, whatever works works, be seeing you way 5. WComics L5 Pitches: lecture five pitches. Springboards and Summaries, which covers story basics, how writers pitch stories, how to fit content into that short space and how the process of summarizing reflects two distinct but compatible writing methods. Surprise. It's me Again, Stefan Petricka. It's a big planet, and the writers living on or beneath its surface work all sorts of ways. Some begin with a random word, figuring out how things will end once they get there. Others outlined each scene in excruciating detail, regardless of the path. Unless we're talking about abstract poetry or some other non narrative form, the end product is a story. What's the story? That's a very big course in itself, but is a vast oversimplification. It's creating a fictive tension than resolving it, using the basic components of character conflict, enclosure, someone or something has a desire. Something or someone stands in the way of fulfilling that desire. And in the end we find out if they get it. The fourth component complications, which are essentially many conflicts along the way to resolving the major conflict, concern that simple three note tune into a symphony. In terms of the creative process, lots of roads can take you there. The only thing that matters is the end result. In terms of selling a story or convincing in orders to work with you, things get different fast. A busy editor with deadlines doesn't have time to read a lengthy, full script right off the bat, even from Pro. Similarly, an artist you'd like to partner with is likely to want at least a general idea of what they're getting into before committing to a project. So at some point, a writer has to mercilessly boil down their brilliant epic into a few concise, coherent and captivating sentences throughout the media industry. Three terms were used for these pithy summaries. Pitch Logline and Springboard. Well, these terms are often used interchangeably. As we've seen with other such delightful jargon. There are some differences. A pitch is a sales term used for any product. It's a brief, catchy sentence or two communicating the basic idea. A lot of line refers more specifically to film and television, where script readers literally enter short descriptions into a log to track what's been reviewed springboards or just a tad longer containing complete but bare bones story. Unlike the comic book plot, we talked about last time. Springboards aren't instructions for an artist, and so they're not broken down by page or necessarily visually oriented. There are two well known variations on the pitch, the elevator pitch short enough to get across during a short elevator ride. And perhaps the briefest of all. The high concept pitch, which generally refers to a simple mashup of existing concepts like Back to the Future, meets The Sopranos, an apt description of the film Looper with a logline. Some of those basic story components become more recognizable to see just how quickly this sort of summer you can get the story across. Let's look at some long lines from popular films and see if we can get the title, shall we? A naive but ambitious farm boy teams up with a feisty princess, a mercenary pilot and an old warrior toe lead a rebellion against a sinister empire, which is, of course, Star Wars. A young woman pursues her passion for soccer against the wishes of her traditional Sikh parents. Okay, that's bend it with Beckham transport into a surreal landscape. A young girl kills the first person she meets, then teams up with three strangers to do it again. The Wizard of Oz. Yeah, it's an old joke and apologies if you've heard it. But it points out that a good summary can't just recite plot events that has to do so in a way that also captures the stories flavor like this. Stranded in a magical land, Ah, lonely Kansas girl sets out on a dangerous journey to find a wizard who can send her home to go back to story. Basics noticed that these log lines will give us the 1st 2 story components character and conflict ambitious farm boy rebelling against the sinister empire. A young woman rebelling against the traditional parents for the sake of her passion. A stranded girl on a dangerous journey home. But they don't include closure in a long line. You don't find out what happens. Partly that's because the stories closure is implied by the conflict. Once that conflict is established, there are really only three possibilities for the outcome. The driving desires achieved, not achieved or changed. It's also because the concept of the logline originated with the big budget movie industry , where, at least initially, the basic idea is the most important part, and the details can be sorted out later. Lots of writers and a great living is Hollywood script doctors. This is less true of television, and not at all true. And comics editors dealing with a workflow involving dozens of stories need the full picture not only to make a decision about what to buy, but to feel confident that a newcomer knows how to create a satisfying conclusion. So while having a pitch at the head of a longer presentation can be helpful, you never really want to present a story without an ending. Which brings us to the springboard. Springboards are very similar to log lines, but they do include closure. As such, many log lines can easily be turned into springboards. As with this logline, for It's a Wonderful Life. A family man struggles to escape this small town for a more successful big city life. When it's constant, efforts fail. He contemplates suicide, but its guardian angel shows him what the world would be like if he'd never been born. Adding a single sentence that describes the closure changes the logline into a simple synopsis. Recognizing his impact on those he loves, he embraces his life with gratitude Given the slight differences, I hope you can see why these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. More importantly, though, what do they have to do with writing comics in comics? If approached by an editor for ideas, you typically send 45 springboard each one a single paragraph running about 3 to 5 sentences. Note that I said, If you're approached, when it comes to the big guns like Marvel in D C thes days, they contact established writers rather than deal with unsolicited material. On the other hand, if you're hoping to sell a specific graphic novel to a book publisher or a smaller comic publisher that reviews unsolicited material, you'd send a query, a one page description that would be focused on a single springboard asking if they want to see more. Lots more can be found on how to construct these queries in my course writing for a living . In any case, always do some research on a given publishers procedures before you submit anything. In the last lecture, my description of the workflow assumed that some form of pitch had already been sold. There are, however, situations where an additional step can come into play, particularly when it comes to writing for licensed material meaning characters or worlds that are owned by someone other than the publisher. Batman, for instance, is owned by Warner D. C. Comics, giving them final approval over all things Batman. The same goes for Captain America and Disney marvel in both these cases, the freelancer works directly with the owner. Nancy Drew, on the other hand, is owned by Simon and Schuster. Comic publisher Paper Cuts licensed the rights from them to do their graphic novel, Siri's with owners rightfully protective of their intellectual property. Their approval is also required. Procedures, very. But for the writer, it most often means producing a story synopsis specifically for the approval of the licensure in the Marvel way, the plot can pretty much be used as a synopsis, but in the full script, that stage is essentially added back in without the advantage of a writer seeing rough art before going to script it. To understand the difference. Let's return to our basic. It's a wonderful life synopsis. A comic plot for an artist would spell it all the story events and might include some bits of dialogue like this. Page one. Bedford Falls Christmas Eve. George Bailey is deeply troubled for years, from his friends and family. Rise to heaven page to this causes to angels to assign a second class angel, Clarence, to save him. Clarence. Really him. It is his turn. Here I am, Page three. They're reviewed George's life, beginning at age 12 when Georgia's younger brother, how he fell through the ice on a frozen bond. I'll get you, Harry. Because of this action, George lost a hearing in his left ear. But what's that? You say? A synopsis for a licensor is very similar. It would included Lee some specific story events, but not necessarily the page breakdown. This sort of synopsis can also be handy for someone trying to break in. If an editor lecture springboards but hasn't worked with you before, they may ask for a synopsis as an intermediate step before committing to a full script. Similarly, if a book publisher expresses interest in your graphic novel query, the next step might be to send This type of synopsis is part of a larger proposal, one that should, if at all possible, include some artwork in terms of length. A synopsis for a monthly 22 page comic would be 1/2 page or page long for a full graphic novel. It could be 4 to 5 pages. For comparison, A typical novel synopsis runs 10 to 15 pages, so there are lots of reasons to condense your work on lots of formats in which to do so. Which brings us to the big question. How, for many, starting out summarizing seems downright antithetical to the creative process. A mortal foe of what makes many of us passionate about writing in the first place that imaginative exploration driven by intuition as another vast oversimplification, the intuitive writing process might look like this. The writer first embraces the muse, spewing out words and a feverish fit. Then they go back and shape those rough results into a story. Summarizing is at best a tedious afterthought once the real work is done after investing all that blood, sweat and tears condensing that work isn't only a headache of reverse engineering, it can feel as if you're killing something you love like a puppy. And who wants to kill a puppy thing? Is your not really killing anything? See the puppies fine, even when summarising and existing work you're actually creating something else. Not a hard soul is beast whose very existence is a mockery of all you hold dear, but something that will get across the idea of the puppy just enough to make people want to pet it. Just a za summary can be thought of is distinct from the work itself. Summarizing can be thought of as a distinct skill, more like abstract puzzle solving. Been turning yourself over to the muse as a skill that can be learned and honed through practice. Over time, it could become interesting in its own right, like doing a crossword puzzle. As an added bonus, it will improve your writing. Many beginners make the mistake of trying to squeeze as many details from their story as they can into the summer. Two Key Pa's much of the puppy is they can't. The trick, though, is to start by forgetting those details and becoming more consciously analytical. To think in terms of the four storey components, character, conflict, complications and closure and essentially fill in the blanks. In other words, build up not down. The danger then becomes going too far with a limited a few sentences. It's easy to throw out the big bathwater, losing the emotional core in exchange for a dry recitation of events. So where's the balance? What counts? In the case of the puppy, a lot of it is really about the eyes. Yes, in the case of the story, let's look at a famous example paraphrased from E. M. Forster. The Queen died and then the King died is a dry recitation of facts. The Queen died and then the king died of a broken heart is a story. The difference is only four words, but they not only provide a character for the King as someone who loves deeply, they provide a conflict that resonates with that character. That's not just body MK Boat face fights evil Mr Submarine. Who will win? Answer. Body MK Boat face. It's How can a loving king live without his beloved answer? He can't. For another example, let's look at Hamlet, a Danish prince whose uncle murdered his father, married his mother and usurped his throne. The basic conflict here being what you gonna do about it now that's a big conflict, arguably compelling on its own. But what makes Hamlet story more alive is a single word often used to describe him. He's not just any Danish prince. He's the melancholy Dane. That one word not only paints a more vivid picture of how we deal with any conflict, it again relates directly to his particular conflict, enhancing it by echoing it. It's not just, Oh, I'll do this. It's Oh, man, what am I gonna dio for three hours the way character relates to their situation? How story actually rises out of that relationship makes all the difference he had. A character's core personality is the one thing most of my students leave out in their first summer. And once you do focus on it, as we've seen, it's the sort of thing that can be corrected with just a few words. It's a difference between Joe has to go out to the bank and make a payment by three to keep his house. And Joe and Agora phobic has to go out to the bank and make a payment by three o'clock to keep his house one summarizing existing work. That's the core you want to capture. If the story doesn't on some level, have that core, you might want to rethink the story. Which brings me to another point summarizing and the way it fits into the workflow. Provide a set of tools that created different possibility, one that becomes increasingly attractive once you start to get regular assignments and have to produce stories on demand. Simply put, you can learn how to work the other way around rather than hunts for the essence of a finished piece. You can create news stories starting with the bones, flips a pyramid and begin the writing process by filling in the blanks for character and conflict. Decide on closure layer in some complications and then, when your scripting the final product try to embrace the muse to bring things to life this way while still respecting any flashes of inspiration that can appear whole hog, you're creating the springboard and summary as you go along. And if an editor artist suggests to change, altering the story at the pitcher springboard stage is relatively easy compared to something that's already been fleshed out. With this in mind, the movement from pitch to script can be seen as a layering process. The pitch provides a fairly abstract conflict and character. The springboard adds closure in a basic shape. The synopsis creates the complications of story events, and the script provides the details. Big picture. This piecemeal writing approach might be called reductionist, understanding something by taking it apart and studying the pieces. The resulting story magic could be called an emergent property, a greater whole, produced by the sum of its parts. Likewise, the muse driven approach could be called holistic, looking at the whole system, developing your talent as intuitions rather than skills. For example, writing without knowing how the story ends and feeling your way through any process you use needn't be rigid, as they'll say over and over again. Whatever works works when writing a novel. I always using outline, but I also feel free to revise that outline whenever a better idea pops up to be clear on the professional level, making those kinds of revisions does get trickier, say once a license or approves of synopsis or plots already been pencilled past a certain point, you have to work with what you've got. Despite its usefulness, some writers, particularly beginners, find the reductionist approach contrary to true creativity. Working so consciously boxes them in hindering whatever magic makes the fictive world breathe killing or at least abusing the puppy. I sympathize, But in my experience, the reductionist method offers a different yet equally satisfying challenge. Finding the life in a pre defined a moment. It's more about trying to steer rather than eliminate, amuse. Everyone, of course, has their own strengths and weaknesses. One person. Congrats, ITAR fiddle with it for a few months and produce lovely music. Another might thrive by learning to read music, studying chord structure and music theory. Again, whatever works works. I would like to suggest that rather than thinking of whole ism and reductionism is contrary , it's more useful to see them is different tools. Intuition may provide a flash of brilliance, but it's seldom reliable. The reductionist tools are always there, ready and waiting for those lonely nights when you sit around waiting for the musical. Beyond that, if practice diligently skills become intuitive over time. Practicing scales, for instance, becomes body memory and eventually feels instinctive. Arguably, that process stands a better chance of helping someone take their art further than playing only by ear preferences and Proclivities aside and choosing how to work. You may also want to consider your goals if you write for sheer pleasure and don't want to take that experience through commerce have at it and more power to you. It's a great way to spend your time, and I highly recommend it. But if you want to write professionally on a regular basis, productivity becomes essential. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, you can take 20 years to write your first issue of a monthly comic, but you have only one month to rate the second. Sometimes keeping the puppy healthy involves flipping it stone out. I want to conclude with a caveat. In this lecture I presented the pitch in. The springboard is the primary way to make a sale. But everyone's story is different, and it's not how I broke in. I produced springboards. Yes, and comic editors like them yet, but they placed me in something of a Catch 22. According to the feedback, the springboards I sent didn't prove I could write dialogue or full script. And to quote one of the nicer rejections, no one has time to train a beginner. So back in the late 19 eighties, against all advice to the contrary, I took one of my original proposals, which one editor called The Kiss of Death, wrote a full script for it and sent it to a bunch of editors. That was what finally attracted attention, resulting in a four issue miniseries from first publishing, with covers by JK Potter and Art by the late Tom Sutton. It was called Squalor. Once that Syria's proved I could write, it was easier for me to sell stories based on springboards, to be clear, that full script was based on a springboard. So I've never felt my summarizing efforts were wasted. The practice improved my writing, and the skill became crucial down the line point being. While I think these basics are a great place to start, there are as many ways to write comics is there are comic writers. Try something, see how it works out. And don't be afraid to adjust course and try something else. Nothing succeeds like success enclosing. Remember this? There wasn't the planes to his beauty killed the beast way. No way 6. WComics L6 Word and Art: Lecture six Word and Art, which covers the way words and pictures change one another. What exactly constitutes comic book from the seven categories of word picture relationships described by Scott McCloud in his book making comics? Yep, I'm Stephan Petricka. Unless I'm watching myself. For some reason, you're not well, pretty much everything involving the written word requires some sort of visualizing writing . Comics requires not only an understanding of panel the panel grammar, but also how the words and images and each panel can influence and actually change one another. It's pretty easy to see how an image can change the meaning of the words. Once the faces added, the tone of the words and their meaning is altered. But what about the other way around? In his 1972 book and television, Siri's ways of seeing John Berger makes an excellent point by using this painting Wheatfield with Crows by Vincent Van Gogh or, if you're British, Ben Golf, take a look. Let that sink in a little, We field crows. Now look again. Once you read the caption, the picture, or at least how you see it. There's no longer the same to quote Burger the words immutable e alter the image. Does that make is a comic book? Maybe, but it's definitely more complicated than simply adding any words to any picture. In his first book, Understanding Comics. The Go to Guy. When it comes to educating yourself about the medium, Scott McCloud distinguishes between a comic book and an illustration. An illustration like this. The art illuminates the text but doesn't provide any new information. These examples, though, do provide no information because of the way the words an image change one another. There's a whole being communicated through the sum of the parts. I'd argue that as long as they don't parent one another, words and even a single image create the unique comic experience that I discussed back in lecture. Three. Scott and many others would disagree, believing that a proper comic requires a sequence of images as in the term sequential art and that therefore, these examples are one panel. Comic strips such as Family Circus don't fit the bill. It's not a simple issue, and part of the reasoning, which Scott points out, is that you don't need any words to create a comic book here. The images alone produced the complete information, the movement of the figure. If you don't need words for a comic, how can words be part of the definition of a comic book? Thing is, even this to panel sequence has a grammar, and the way we interpret that grammar is very similar to the way we interpret words. As I mentioned when discussing whether or not comics read, the same parts of the brain involved in reading are used to make sense of sequential images . I'm a writer, so I'm biased. But to my mind, there's something inherent in the comic experience that rests squarely on that word art combination. Whether it's through an actual teaming of the two or by the way, the art alone can borrow aspects of words beyond precise definitions, while a comic can be silent. Adding words expands the possibilities exponentially in order to use the medium to its best advantage. Writers and artists need a working understanding of those possibilities. Fortunately, Scott McCloud provides the perfect foundation in understanding comics and the follow up making comics by organizing those possibilities into seven handy dandy categories. I'll be reviewing these categories here and adding my own thoughts, but I want to be clear that they originate with Scott, and I highly recommend that you see got his books. In my experience, the categories give students trouble. So before diving into the list, some caveats. First, While there will be plenty of visual examples, I'll be talking about them with, well, words. As the brain shifts between image and word, it can be disorienting. Second, while the categories air conceptually solid in practice, there is some overlap that can make applying them to a given panel. Confusing. I'll discuss that overlap a bit at the end. Third, in a comic word picture, relationships can change from scene to scene, even panel to panel. So keep in mind in each instance here we're only talking about one panel, not a sequence. With that. Here are Scott McCloud. Seven Word picture relationships Do a specific where the words and picture provide the same information. Words specific, where the words provide all the information, while the picture accents aspects of the words picture specific, in which the picture provides all the information in the words accent aspects of the picture interdependent, where the words in the picture combined to convey information that Neither do alone intersecting where the information conveyed by the words and the picture overlaps parallel , where the information that the words in the picture convey doesn't seem connected in a meaningful way. And, lastly, montage in which the words in the picture combined visually, the order here is slightly different from the book, hopefully making for an easier flow that emphasizes writing. I've also broken the categories into sections. In the first, you never need both the words in the picture to follow along. In the second, you always need both the words and picture to follow along. As for montage, well, it's more of a design element, and as you'll see, I'm not convinced it belongs at all. Let's look at each starting with doing specific where, as I said, the words and the picture provide the same information. In other words, they're redundant. For example, in this panel from the Nancy Drew graphic novels, the image tells us all by itself that Nancy has turned around and seen a bear. Likewise, this caption all by itself tells us the same thing. Put them together, and today you've got to do a specific panel. Since pictures and words are interpreted by different parts of the brain, do a specific can create an interesting, often amusing echo. In this example, we get the information three ways in the picture, in the caption and in the thought balloon. Do a specific is probably the easiest understand, and it has a gaudy quality that makes it tough to miss. It's also the one that comic writer should avoid. Like the plague, repetition of any form tends to remind the reader that they're interpreting lines on a page , pulling them out of the fictive world. That said, there are some situations where do a specific could work. One is if the words of poetic or have a cadence that ends a flavor beyond the mere fax, as in my vague attempt here. Even in this case, though, it feels more like an illustrated story and not a true comic. In other instances, redundancy can be used to add melodramatic emphasis, as in this panel, because it was a really big surprise that Galactus felt it just wasn't something collectives did very often. Next up in a word specific relationship, the words provide all the information. While the picture accents aspects of the words like duo specific. The scene is communicated entirely by words, as in this caption. Also, like do a specific. The image doesn't add any new information. In fact, it gives us less here. It doesn't tell us that this bear had attacked Nancy's friends, but the image isn't entirely redundant. Instead, it contributes focus, putting our attention not on Nancy's friends. But on the moment she sees the bear through its composition. It also accents the bears unusually large size. The bear not only dominates the page, thanks a long shot. We see exactly how much bigger it is the Nancy with words giving the readers what they need to know to follow this story. The picture is free to focus on any aspect of that for different effects. Here, the picture focuses entirely on the bear. The sense of its exact size is lost, but this choice brings the reader closer to the beast, more like they're in Nancy shoes. If the picture focuses on Nancy, the reader gets a stronger sense of her physical motion and terrified reaction. While the look of the bear is left of the imagination, the tilt of Nancy's head still gives an indication of its height. Importantly, the panel doesn't have to have a lot of words to be words specific. In this example from the Avengers Number 58 there are just five words, and there were only you need to get what's going up. He's an android. You wouldn't think he could cry, But, yeah, he can't what makes this word specific and not do a specific to my mind? One word, even the unique, unexpected quality of the tears isn't conveyed by the picture. Again, the picture adds to the experience, but only in terms of accent, not new information. It could have focused on the android's head, his hand, his furrowed brow or the tear itself. But by including the full figure, it lends a formal quality to the android stance while the burst lines behind him tell us that what we're seeing is important. On the other hand, there's this, which has a lot of words somebody. I'm gonna ask you to pause the video and read them to yourself. Okay, welcome back. At first glance, this panel might seem duo specific, but there's a lot of information in the text that isn't in the picture. How the chest late works the fact that he's dying and not, for instance, proposing marriage or singing. Buddy, can you spare a dime and engage reading 60 seconds? Yes, technically, that nice blue lamp isn't in the text, but there's no pertinent information missing from the words more on what is or isn't printing a little later. But for now, consider that the image here could have focused on a number of things. The lushness of the mansion, the grasping hand, his failing heart. Instead, it accents Iron Man's physical struggle, his half fall inform, grasping toward the reader that slight tilt to the slits on his metallic facemask, even as to the feel of desperation. Technically, you can't have a word picture relationship without words in a picture, but you can't have a panel with only words. You could argue that this is word specific. Put too many word. Onley panels together, though, and while they retain a comic sense of sequence to an extent, eventually you're no longer writing a comic. Your writing pure prose. Rounding out Section one, we have the flipside picture specific, where the image provides all the information on the words accent aspects of the picture. Let's go back to dear old Nancy in that darn baron yet, assuming there's nothing we need to know about the bear other than that it's a bear and that Nancy has turned to see it. The picture tells it all. With the weight of the story carried by the picture, the words are free to change. The readers focus, making them more aware of, say, the threat of the clause, how small Nancy is or the short distance between. Once choosing that focus, the writer can go for a more ornate description. The words don't have to zero in on one aspect of the picture. As long as they don't add information or give us all of it. The panel remains picture specific. The verbal focus doesn't have to be physical. Either can be emotional or even philosophical, as in this panel, from Fantastic. For annual number three from 1965 where the words highlight their own pointlessness, the words don't even have the words here. A single sound effect focuses the reader not only on the photographer but also on the fleeting nature of the moment, emphasizing how long the panel lasts in time, they say a picture paints 1000 words, but really, it depends on the picture on the words, while to many panels without images becomes pros. A narrative sequence of Pictures Without Words is still a comic book and arguably always picture specific, as in this sequence for the walking debt. But what if there's no narrative structure to the sequence like this? Is this still a picture specific comic book? The mind's desire to see patterns even we're not necessarily exist is an essential partner in any fictive experience. But it also makes something like this a tough call. I can imagine a narrative where the clock is notifying an alien snake about a happy appointment for what you'll need is flying saucer. Get if, as we've seen, different words can give a picture different meanings. What does inherent really mean? There's a line there somewhere, but I'm not exactly sure where it falls. Speaking of words and images changing one another, Tier two begins with what's possibly the most common and yet crucial type of relationship interdependent were the words in picture combined to convey information that neither do alone the backtrack a bit in this word specific pal the words convey information. The picture doesn't that the bear attack Nancy's panels. In this picture specific version, the image conveys information. The words don't that Nancy is facing a bear in an interdependent paddle. Neither tell us everything. Just read the words, and you have no idea who Nancy is speaking to. Just look at the picture and you have no idea. Nancy thought she was talking to someone else before she turned. Put them together and you get the whole idea. The results can vary wildly. Hear the words in the picture arguably play to those strengths I discussed back in Lecture Threat. The text conveys an interstate the picture of the physical world, but it can be the other way around. The words can describe a physical location, while the picture expresses a state of mind as another example. Here's this I assume unintentionally funny. Justice League panel from the 19 sixties. Again, there's a lot of words, so please pause the video moment and read it to yourself. Trust me, it's more fun that way. Without the image, we don't know the meaningful identity of the thinkers, so I'd call this interdependent. The interdependent relationship can lean more heavily on the words or the picture. This one panel Nancy comic strip is arguably picture specific, yet it doesn't quite make sense without the words. After all, the men could have been carrying an invisible piano in all three specific categories where the narrative is carried by the picture or the text. The experience tends to be more akin to read it, but the interdependent relationship creates something different, something that may feel more like film or video. That may be because it requires the reader to add to the content in order to make sense of it. Okay, in this case, we hear the dialogue and put it together with the motion of the track bending. Yet even when the words aren't in the scene, say is 1/3 person objective narrative. The experience has a uniquely animated quality in this case, to get what's going on, the reader has to imagine the moments between Nancy thinking she's speaking to best and turning to see that she's not. Then again, this earlier picture specific example does much the same thing here, though aren't argued that because the word points to a part of the image, the reader might otherwise Kloss over. While technically picture specific, the results were more interdependent. In other words, the text convey something the picture may not conveyed First glance. Can a silent sequence accomplish the same thing? Sort of, but not quite to my mind. Without words, The movement from panel to panel here still feels more like reading. There's plenty of room for disagreement, but for me, it's only in those panels that require both words and picture to make sense that the comic experience becomes truly unique. That quality carries over into our next category, which is also hands down the most confusing intersecting in an intersecting relationship. The information. The words in the picture convey overlaps, meaning that they repeat some aspects of the narrative but convey others independent of one another. I really hate this one across is my circuits, even when I think I've got it. It does make sense, though, even if clear examples are tough to find. We'll start with Nancy in the picture, tells us yada, yada, yada. She's turned and seen a bear right. They had a caption with the same information, and we've got to a specific put in a caption that tells us everything the picture does, but adds a new detail and its word specific. Now change one word, and the panel becomes intersecting. The words don't tell us exactly what Nancy is facing, but they do tell us that attack turn her friend. The image tells us Nancy's facing a bear, but not that it attacked her friends and intersecting both words and image contributes some information that's unique. And some that isn't. If only the words have that unique information. The panels word specific. If only the picture has that unique information. The panels picture specific, got it intersecting could be tough to spot. So let's look at some examples. Okay, here both the image and the words tell us. Spiderman is shocked, but only the image tells a Spiderman is holding an unconscious man while only the words tell us he's a crook. Spied. He could have stopped here. Both the image in the words tell us someone's falling. Only the image tells us a man is falling as Batman swings nearby. While only the words give us details about the fall and the fact that watching other people's pain helps Batman sleep. These I think are fairly straightforward. The problem is that the examples quickly get more complicated. Here's one Scott used in making comics off hand. I want to call it interdependent, but let's take a close look at the pieces. Hear the words tell if someone has new clothes, they're proud of them. Their baby can see them. They want to know what their babe thinks of said clothes. And given the stereotype that our speaker is likely male, the picture tells us a man is proud of something about himself. He's talking to someone about it and wearing clothes most would consider gaudy. He might be proud of his clothes, but that's not inherent in the image. He could just as well be proud of a job. Far as I can tell, the only information shared by both picture and words is the characters pride, So to call it into Second feels like a long walk. It could be me, but more on that shortly. For now, let's look at parallel, which is simple enough, but kind of weird. We've seen how words and picture can complement and enhance one another, and how together produce something completely new in the parallel relationships simply put , they have nothing to do with one another. Okay, at least within the context of a single panel. Okay. Across the sequence, the words and pictures conjoined up, revealing a more specific relationship. This example is a bit of a cheek, since the quotes in the captions generally means speakers in present. But I think it gets across the idea. Let's look at another here. The parallel relationship is maintained across the page, only becoming interdependent in the final panel. It's also possible that the words and pictures will never join up. But the human mind loves to create order, and this one might assume the dog referred to in the captions is chasing the girls. Even though that's not necessarily the case here. We might guess that Spider Man has solves a mystery involving the crook and the fact that salt dissolved or here that he's crazy or really like Shakespeare. But within the panel, the relationship remains parallel. Carol has a few handy narrative uses that air neatly outlined in making comics running dialogue from one scene over another, can create a layered story texture, set up an interesting transition and or safe space. The parallel relationship is also unique in that it allows the possibility of more than one word picture relationship in a single panel here. The caption is parallel, but the word balloon is interdependent. Having more than one relationship in a given panel only works if one type is parallel a picture specific words specific combination would be. Do a specific, for instance, right. Lastly, there's the montage where words and pictures combine pictorially, meaning that the words become part of the art, as in this example, where they hang in the air since it breaks with our expectations in terms of how the words of presented the montage relationship is particularly easy to spot the brilliant realize that was famous for, among other things, his use of montage, as in this note, the wispy V in the upper left, Eisner had a way of working text into his title pages that really blurred the difference between art and word. Over the years, many comics have used montage to great effect, as in this often copied covered by Jim Storing Co. For 1968 Hulk annual number One. As an aside, how are we supposed to interpret this that the Hulk is actually holding up his logo. There's also this really interesting variation from Frank Miller Sin City, where the sound effect becomes the panel borders. As I've said, I'm not convinced Montage belongs. It's clearly a useful concept and one that defines a particular word picture relationship. At the same time. All the other categories define that relationship in terms of narrative information, meaning that by definition you can't have a montage that doesn't also fit one of the other category. Isn't this also picture specific? This one? Do a specific, this word specific and this one interdependent, since without the word we don't know that the gun has been fired. So can montage rightly be considered a category? Well, it depends on what you want the categories to do. Scott McCloud created this breakdown so the final word on its purposes hits. But if we want them based on the ways reader follow a comic narrative, my answer is no. And that completes our review of the categories. If you now, as promised, I want to take a look at how, while the abstract definitions make sense in practice, the Distinctions conglomerate, for instance, in do a specific the information in the text in the picture is supposed to be the same, right? Well, even in our simple example, the image actually tells us several things that Texas is not the size of the bear Nancy's distance from it, the type of dress she wears on that there in a forest. That kind of list can be increased ad infinitum. The words don't tell us, the bears emerging from behind a tree, that it's slightly hunched, that Nancy and the bear half behind some sort of bush and so on and so on. The more detail we delve into, the more the category warps. Does this actually make it picture specific? Not in any useful sense, since none of that additional data, as I mentioned earlier, is pertinent or key to following the story. So the overall effect remains. Do a specific what defines pertinence, the narrative context. If, for instance, the Bear was angry at some hunters who wore red vests and Nancy's dress was red, the color would be pertinent. A bigger practical overlap occurs between interdependent, intersecting making comics gives us This is an example of an interdependent relationship. But dont words and the picture convey that one character is surprised by the other. And doesn't that make this intersecting, not interdependent, Where the overlap is clear? The panel is obviously intersecting. When it's not clear, requires, shall we say a long walk may be more useful to considered into dependent, since the experience is more combination than an overlap. Ultimately, comic writers don't sit around saying, Oh, I'll create one panel from Category two and three from Category seven. In the end, the value of these categories isn't so much about any specific application, but the way they can get you thinking about the most fruitful way to use the medium. And with that, until our next exciting lecture, here's looking at you kid way, way. 7. WComics L7 Descriptions Pt 1: lecture, seven panel descriptions, Part one, which covers dramatic versus physical descriptions for visible and invisible and story design. How to use film terms in comic scripts and how to imply panel composition without spelling it out. It's May when it comes to writing a full comic script. In addition to providing all the words the reader sees, the writer also has to describe the image in each panel, while the end product will hopefully have an audience of millions. Panel descriptions have an audience of to the editor and the artist So Justus, you'd write dialogue and captions with the reader in mind. Panel descriptions are written for the artist. Partly that means figuring out what best suits a particular partnership. In all cases, though, it means using words to conjure that image in your head in a way that inspires an artist skill and creativity. To that end, I want to begin with an important note. It's so important that I'm gonna put it in a box to keep it safe forever and ever. There's a crucial difference between a comic book script in a film script. The pictures don't move to work as a comic book. Whatever image you describe has to be static motionless. Why is that so important? Because beginners commonly create panel descriptions like this panel one. Pete runs toward a table with letter on, it stops and grabs the letter. What's wrong with it? Pete's doing three things running, stopping and picking something up and the pictures don't move. Yes, running involves motion, but an artist can communicate that in a single image through both body stance and motion lines like this. It's also true that a blurred figure coupled with motion lines can indicate multiple actions in a single image like here, where Wonder Woman is deflecting several bullets. But in the language of comics, this implies either superspeed or a harried panic for the sake of story drama. Or if you just plain running out of space, it can be very tempting to cram several actions into a single panel. But unless there's a specific narrative reason, don't do it. It's the mark of an amateur Rethink the sequence. If Pete isn't superfast, are on the verge of a nervous breakdown, there should be one action for panel panel one. Pete runs toward a table with a letter on it. Panel two peach stops at the table Panel three Peak grabs the letter from the table. There are other, much better ways to convince the number of panels. As long as the narrative thread is clear, the reader will happily fill in the blanks. It's part of the comic experience. For instance, Pal one might show a woman opening the door to her House panel to the same woman opening the closet inside her bedroom, showing her walking through the house up the stairs to her bedroom isn't necessary unless we're told otherwise. We kind of figure she wasn't abducted by aliens in between. So go back to pee his panel to necessary, unless you have a reason to extend the timing here. Not really. Similarly, some actions could be implied in a single panel rather than being shown in two panel one. Sweating out of breath, P eagerly grabs a letter from the table Here, for instance, the run is implied, bringing his back in a sense where we started with one panel. But it's a panel with an important distinction. The picture doesn't move. Moving on. You've probably already heard that the best writing shows rather than tells, showing puts us in the story moment. Telling takes us out of it. Unless trying for a specific tonal effect, a novelist wouldn't be caught dead. Writing something like Pete is sad. The show don't tell. Rule remains absolutely true for all the captions and dialogue that the reader will be seeing. But when it comes to panel descriptions for an artist where clarity is crucial, Peters said, may be the perfect thing to say. Beyond that, the right description depends on, among other things, the artist. One artist may prefer detailed mechanical cues, another the freedom to depict a character's angst in their own special way. Just as the writer wants the artist to pay attention to their story, it moves the writer to be aware of an artist strengths when it comes to finding the right style to suit both yours and the artist strengths. There are two basic modes to consider which I'll call the dramatic, and the physical physical refers to the tangible aspects of an image a tables, wood grain or the beads of moisture on a sweaty characters. Face dramatic refers to the intangible and interstate, such as the misery of someone who's just lost a lover are an ambiance, like the tension that seems to linger in the air of a crime scene. A physical panel description of pizza and this might be the skin around. Pete's eyes crinkles as tears. Well, what we see tells us something we can't see how Pete feels. Inside the poet T. S. Eliot called this sort of physical description the objective correlative, the tangible conjuring the intangible. Ah, purely dramatic description, on the other hand, avoids physical cues. Leaving that objective Carla tive up to the artist, as in Pete contemplates the desolation of his existence. Either motives valid and either can be used to invoke the other. Either can also lead artists to produce infinite variations, which may or may not be desirable for a given story right about Pete's tears. And you could get any of these. While a simple dramatic description could inspire anything from the image it left to the one on the right featuring Homer from The Simpsons. By and large, the most effective descriptions tend to be combinations that spell out the drama but also include enough physical details to make the results better fit. The stories needs as artificial snow being Pete contemplates the desolation of his existence. The skin around his eyes crinkles and tears. Well, whatever the panel description, the results will always be visible because you know it's art at the same time as we've already seen. The visible can also have a relationship to the invisible, and not just in terms of emotional states. You don't see a character's desires or the conflict arising from that, just their visible manifestation. When it comes to storytelling, that visible, invisible relationship can take one of three forms. Agreement, counterpoint or neutrality. When an agreement the visible and invisible mirror one another. As in the cave, a hermit lives in the expensive jewelry worn by a rich person, an adulterer with a scarlet a stitched on her clothing. En counterpoint. The visible exists in some form of tension with the invisible, as in Ah, love story in a jail Ah, gun. Owned by a pacifist, a gentle soul who looks like a serial killer and neutrality, the visible has no real bearing on the invisible. A murderer in a space suit, a pen owned by an animal activist, a corrupt lawyer with black hair while an artist can attempt to visualize abstract concepts like truth or love. Generally speaking in a narrative, the visible elements can be divided into three categories. Locations, objects and characters in terms of locations. And Abandoned Mansion, for instance, could have atmosphere a small town of special ambience. But how do you get that across to the artist? One simple way is to use reference material if you want the artist to draw a spooky forest Google Spooky forest image and paste it into your script. Like this panel one. Dorothy stands in a forest that looks kind of like this. Importantly, any given image may well be copyrighted, so either make sure it's in the public domain or make it clear in your script that it's for inspiration on Lee. While all comic writers and artists rely on reference material to some extent, the more specific your writing becomes, the more you might want to consider relying on your words. In that case, focus on the specific visual details that enhance or act as a counterpoint to your story panel. One loss encrusted pines around Dorothy so sick she could barely walk between them so tall they block her view of the sky here, the forest is described in terms of character, how they make things difficult for Dorothy, creating a sense of gloom and claustrophobia. Unique descriptions also add a level of realism rather than a generic wanted. House describe a decrepit Georgian plant growth destroying one wall instead of any old office building a gleaming steel tower on the city's highest hill, whose top seems to touch the sun. The same can apply to objects. The family car. Your laptop can seem to have a personality all its own. If an object is important to the story, bring out that importance through detail. Ah, warn book dog eared from reading a ray gun that looks like a wind up toy, a pencil that's been badly chewed on. Unlike locations or objects, characters are also defined by what they do or say. That's not to say the way they look is unimportant, as indicated by the happy blue bean. Captors don't even have to be human, as indicated by the thinking glass. Their non human qualities can become a counterpoint to their inner life. Aside from reflecting or contradicting their persona, a character's appearance not only helps the reader develop a relationship with them that makes them recognizable from scene to scene. When it comes to how to do that with human or anthropomorphic characters, there are lots of possibilities, but let's look at some basics. Facial features, a scar, a broken nose, the shape of the skull or hair and eye color size. Are they large average? You're short, Barry, The way they carried himself. Do they stand stiffly or slouch? Do they limp from an old wound or arrogantly strut like a peacock? I mean, can refer to facial expression. But here, I mean, they're aura or personal ambience. Are they wide eyed and observant? Lost and thought are always a bit anxious. Dress type and style can point to social class and or culture. Dashiki. Sorry. Jeans, jacket and tie. Sloppy dress might mean a laid back attitude or coupled with a desperate look. Self destructive tendencies. Clean and pressed clothing might indicate a good self image. Too much concerned with what other stink or pure vanity tourney wrinkled. Her blood smeared close can point to a character's recent activities. The last movement can be tricky to work within comics because, you know the pictures don't move, but it could mean anything from the smug way of character flicks on a light switch. So how they always drink with two hands. You never want to use all these aspects all the time for every character. But the right one or two can not only help bring a character to life it can define. If we see a hand holding a hat and whip, we don't have to see your face. We know it's Indiana Jones. Likewise, if we introduce a character named Jasmine, who has one green and one blue eye later on seeing her eyes alone, his older reader needs to identify her. While a good description can just be a question of including the right elements, the way they're arranged in the panel in the angle it, which they're seeing, also has a big impact not only emotionally but on focusing the reader on story points, for instance, showing a close up of the weapon in the villains hand this placement arrangement and focus is called composition any good. Others will have their own developed sense of composition, but the writer can also have a say. How much of us say the writer has on panel composition depends again on the partnership and the workflow. It can vary from practically done, notably in the plot stage of the Marvel way, to the ornate specifics possible in the full script. In that full script, while the artist may have a better grasp of composition, it's not a bad idea for the writer to provide a baseline with an eye to getting the story across as a good place to start. Film and television have a longstanding shorthand for basic composition, much of which can be carried over into comic scripts. This list, along with abbreviations, has been broken down into distance and movement. Most writers and artists are familiar with at least some of them, but let's go through each starting with distance. An establishing shot has, is its subject. Ah, full view of a scenes location, indoors or out. Point of view shows the subject of seeing through the eyes of a particular character. A low angle looks up at the subject, usually making it seem larger, while an overhead shot looks down on the subject, usually making it seems smaller. In the close up, a k A tight shot or sometimes tight on the subject takes up all or most of the picture. The medium shot is a little further back from the subject, usually the chest up and can show two characters, as in a medium two shot in the long shot or far shot. The surroundings take up most of the image, and the subject is small. Both the close up in the long shot can be modified by adding the word extreme. Here you can see the difference between a close up on an extreme close up. Technically, the second image can also be described as a close up of an eye, but the use of extreme feels more dramatic. That takes care of distance. Now let's look at movement. Okay? Yes, I've been making a big deal out of how comic book pictures don't move. So you may rightly ask how compositions involving camera movement can possibly be useful. Well, while it remains true that the image in a single panel doesn't move thanks to the reader filling in the gaps between panels, the feel of a moving camera can be approximated by using multiple panels. As we go through each check out the comic book panel examples and see how they get that movement across, starting with a track or dolly shot. Here, the angle moves through the location, either to follow the path of a moving subject here, a lit flair or to reveal more of the scene without altering perspective. A zoom moves in closer to the subject or out to show more of the surrounding in a pan. The view pivots horizontally from a single point, as if on a tripod, revealing more of the scene. And it tilts though the view pit it's vertically, making the scene look askew to mimic these in a full comic book script, the camera movement can be indicated on a separate line, along with the number of panels involved, as in ah, three panel sequence tilting the image panel one, a man on the phone, his left hand to his ear panel to same image, tilted slightly to the right panel. Three. Same image tilted more so that the man is not a 45 degree angle. Another film script shorthand that could be handy and comic scripts is denoting a scenes location using interior or exterior. This would be followed by a one or two word description, a slash and the time of day. All in caps has a panel, one interior suburban house afternoon. Importantly, unlike the others, this doesn't indicate a composition. Just a location. Using interior or exterior may imply an establishing shot to some, but technically, the first shot in the following scene could be anything overhead point of view or even a close up with the full location established later. For example, Panel One Interior Suburban House afternoon, close up hand holding a newspaper panel. Two long shot Pete stands in the center of the room, reading the paper to the left of picture window over, and I keep couch. Let's in the sun and so on. Once the location and time of day or established, there's no need to name them again until they change. Panel one. Interior unfinished basement night. A shadow appears at the window. Panel to the window is broken. Glass falls to the concrete floor. Panel. Three exterior suburban house. A burglar sticks his hand into the broken window. Here, Panel to doesn't require repeating the location, while Panel three tells us the location has changed. That said, artists often work out of sequence and keep only one page handy at a time. To that end, it can be useful to repeat the location in the first panel of each script page. In addition to the angles we've covered, panel composition has 1/3 own depth, which includes, for instance, the view down, a set of railroad tracks heading off into the horizon, or a view through a window over a character shoulder showing a distant house for the sake of simplicity, it's easy is to think of this death existing on up to three levels. The foreground is closest to the reader here, best in George toward the panel. Bottom are in the foreground. Mid ground is a bit further from the reader. Hear the full figure of Nancy Drew holding the flashlight occupies the mid ground last. The background is furthest from the reader here. That's the equipment the flashlight shines on and the foreboding woods again. That's up to three levels of depth. You needn't use all of them. A close up of a character, for instance, implies the foreground and doesn't necessarily require any mid or background at all. Likewise, a character standing before building doesn't necessarily require mid ground. I began by saying that most artists and editors know some of these terms, most will know what a close up or tight on is, but they may not known abbreviation like See You RMS When Working with someone for the first time. It's best to provide that meaning when initially using the term as in Panel one. Close Up. See You, Martha. The obliterate er hungrily eyes the reader. Now that I've thrown a whole bunch of terms and definitions at you, let's talk about whether you actually want to use any of them. As I've said, whatever works works. A successful comic book script consists of whatever works for you, the artist and the editor. As long as the panel description evokes the right image, everything else is decoration end. If you're fortunate enough to find a good partner over time, you'll develop your own shorthand. It was a final note for this lecture. I want to point out that it's also possible to imply many of these compositions without naming them. For instance, panel in Martha, the obliterate er hungrily eyes the reader. Technically, an artist could read this and draw an extreme long shot of Martha standing way out on the horizon. but given the context, a close up seems the most reasonable, intuitive choice. Likewise, this phrasing implies something like an extreme close up paddle one. Ah, cold glass of ice. A single drop of moisture along the clear edge of the glass reflects the light, and this one implies foreground and background. Panel one. The old tenement looms before Harry, leaving only a strip of sky visible, depending on your own Proclivities. Focusing your descriptions on the subject may be easier than trying to master composition. Get the story basics across, and a good artist will realize the implied angles. Better yet, a great artist may have an interesting reason for doing things some other way that will surprise and delight you next. Up in Part two, I'll discuss my order is best presenting all these panel elements how to motivate movement between panels and pages, how much fits wear and how to choose the right panel size and subject. Until then, ask yourselves what an ape make a doll that talks way 8. WComics L8 Descriptions Pt 2: lecture, eight panel descriptions Part two, in which we cover what order to best present all the elements of a panel description motivating movement between panels and pages, how much fits wear and how to choose the right panel size and subject. Hello, I'm you know, Last time I covered a lot of elements that could be used in panel description. When writing a comic script, though, you not only have to decide which of those elements will best convey your story, you have to do that in a way that specific and brief but specific and brief are contradictory goals. The more specifics you include, the longer the description. Someone like Alan Moore may go on and on and on about one single panel for a page or so. But generally, too much detail can hamstring. Rather than inspire an artist on the flipside too little and the writer could be abdicating some important storytelling tools. Or worse, the artist won't be able to tell what's going on. So let's begin by taking a look at both ends of the scale to little description and too much. Then I'll discuss how to find the sweet spot in between. Ah, very brief panel description might look like this panel. One. Interior car day. Two kids sit in the back. Dad drives angry without any other context. What might an artist draw? The car could be anything from an old clunker to a Rolls Royce. It could be on a highway or in a driveway. The kids could be a little boys or girls, toddlers or Tweens. Dad might be younger or older. Now here's that same basic panel with a much, much longer description. It's a lot. So wait here while you pose the video to read it. Okay, welcome back. This version would certainly produce more specific results. But not only is it a slog, how much of that detail is actually essential to the story. Doesn't have to be a SpongeBob T shirt. Is the visible Band aid necessary? Doesn't matter that one head arrest is missing or what the names of the streets are. The answer is it depends If these are the main characters and those details play into their story, it could all be important. But if we're only seeing dad in these kids for one panel because they're about to stop short tow, avoid hitting our riel main character. The answer's no. The shorter description could well suffice, even if they are the main characters. You wouldn't want to include that much detail in every panel description in which they appear. Lengthy descriptions air generally only useful in three cases at the beginning of a story or seen when introducing someone or something new, or for complex actions involving multiple characters. If the story is just starting, it's important to spend time establishing the characters in the scene. So naturally, the first panel on the first page, where everything and everyone appears for the first time, tends to be longer. On the other hand, once we know everyone in this story, flow is clear. The panel descriptions can get a lot shorter. Here's the full script for the 1st 2 panels of the Nancy Drew sequence. We saw earlier notice that the first Splash page description takes a paragraph. The first panel on the second page on Lee a sentence had that first panel included character descriptions. It would have been much longer, but in this case, part of show morass, he had already designed Look of Nancy and Net. Similarly, after this lengthy first panel description, the second panel might read Panel two. As Mark slams on the brakes, everyone lurches forward. Complicated actions and character positions also tend to lengthen description, sometimes to the point of driving a writer and artist crazy. A man eating soup has a string attached that pulls on another spoon but sends a cracker to a bird. And there's a clock and a rocket and some pipes and a pound. Oh, by the way, did I mention the man is a mustache? At that point? For the sake of clarity, streamlining is crucial. One way to streamline is by eliminating any redundancy. In your descriptions. I talk about how to spot and correct the various forms of redundancy in Lecture. 10. What you really don't want to miss. The other big cause of money panel descriptions is a lack of structure. Ordering panel elements in a consistent way can bring both clarity and brevity to your scripts. The best specific order can vary based on the story contact, but as a rule of thumb, start with the location, then add the angle, then the subject and end with specific details. If you use interior and exterior, they appear upfront here as interior small studio apartment slash day. That's followed by the angle, a medium shot and the main subject, Gerald. From there, additional details are added from most to least important. The fact that he's reeling backwards is more key to this moment than what he's wearing, so that comes first. There are two important things to keep in mind when using this order first, as I mentioned in the last lecture. Once you've established a location, you don't have to mention it again unless it changes. The second is that those details have more impact and take up less space when woven into the subject, rather than using a separate sentence for Jared's long black hair. This description mentions it in the context of his movement. Weaving details this way not only makes the story feel alive, it clarifies their importance and takes fewer words. Once you're done with the first panel, it's on to the next again. You shouldn't repeat what you've already described, but you will have to decide how each new panel connects to the last. While the variations are infinite, every new panel has to provide enough information for the reader to make the leap from the previous battle. Scott McCloud's making comics discusses how the choice of moment impacts that panel to panel flow. I'm gonna leave that to his book and again Suggested is a valuable guide and talking about the writer side of things. I want to emphasize how the content not only allows the reader to make sense of the change , it also motivates the movement between panels to see what I mean. Let's go back to our earlier example about Pete the letter and the table so we don't see step along the way we understand what happened in Panel one. Pete's rush toward the letter motivates the move to panel to where he grabs it. Simple enough. Let's add some more variables. Panel three Close up Pete's point of view. A hand written letter. Pete, if I don't see you, buy three. I'm robbing the bank panel. Four medium shot Pete head up, eyes wide and shock as he looks off Panel Panel five. Close up Pete's point of view. Ah, wall clock. It's five of three Panel six Exterior Bank day. Long shot. A woman stands at the door impanel three. The time mentioned in the letter motivates Pete Toe look up in Panel four. The readers desire to see what Pete's looking at, motivates the move to the clock and panel five in the late hour, then motivates the location shift to the bank in Panel six. Here. The narrative momentum provides the motivation that takes us from panel to panel. But it's not the only possible motivation in the following, where Justine, who has an irrational fear of knives, enters a kitchen store. The panel, The panel movement, is motivated by our heightening fear. Okay, Panel one. We see Justine in the store, which motivates air looking up in two, which takes us to three, where we learned she's focused on the knives, are wanting. Her reaction, motivates the move to four, revealing her initial nervousness. That takes us to a particular knife in five, which elicits the more fearful reaction in Panel six, which in turn invokes an even scarier view of the knife in Panel seven and Justin's final reaction panel eight. Closing her eyes. Importantly, both of these examples deal with events unfolding in time. Aside from providing an underpinning, time itself can motivate the panel to panel movement. We've previously seen how panel sequences can condense time with the reader filling in the missing steps. But the sequence can also be used to extend time. Lengthening or shortening the number of images devoted to a falling cat creates a different feel. Let's look at how that might play out in a written script. In this first example, things were resolved very quickly. Panel one. Having fallen from a window, Nancy lands on the steel framed glass roof of a hothouse panel to the glass cracks, making Nancy fall again. But good storytelling isn't always about getting to a conclusion as quickly as possible can also be about lingering on certain moments to give that conclusion more month. Okay, Having the roof cracks slowly across a number of panels provides more tension. There is a limit to how long readers are gonna want to watch that glass cracked before seeing Nancy fall, but the right patient can really make them feel Nancy Plummet. Other possible motivations include experimental pieces, dreams where the connections could be metaphoric or poetic, or even in a data. Is peace random? But in all cases, something gets the reader from £1 to the next thinking about what that is will not only make your story more powerful, it'll make it easier for you to decide which details should be accented in your descriptions. So far, I've discussed all these elements in terms of content. But how much fits wear naturally depends on the physical aspects of the comic, specifically the relationship between panels and pages. The digital Age has created some wild possibilities, with examples like the previously mentioned right number by Scott McCloud, in which one panel is actually contained in another. In that case, the only real unit is the panel. Generally speaking, though, be the virtual or physical panels still appear on some form of page, and the existence of that page creates its own set of opportunities and restrictions in terms of communication and design. Moving from page to page, for instance, could be motivated much the same way is moving from battle to battle at the same time, because you're leaving one set of images. For another, it has a bigger, grander feel. In part, it's as if you're traveling a longer distance, making it a useful choice in enhancing and change to a new location. Other options for that big moment would include something like this, where artist Steve Ditko uses panel to panel movement in a combination with the movement to a full page splash to bring out the feeling of Spiderman and struggle in a really powerful way. To be clear. It's not just about the size of that splash page. Physically turning or swiping the page is part of what makes the relief in the final image more palpable. Panels themselves also acquired different aspects when they're seen as part of a page on the one hand. Squiggly borderlines, for instance, can always be used to indicate a dream. But it's only on the page that something like letting the borders bleed creates a more expansive field. Likewise, having characters or word balloons break the panel borders increases the intensity, as if the panel can't hold on to the action. But that's also much more effective in the context of surrounding panels. That's less true of panel shapes, which, like those squiggly lines, retain their impact in usefulness. However, they're presented like a circular panel that zeroes in on a small detail and oval for a portrait or twin circles to represent the view through a pair of binoculars. Likewise, regardless of whether they're presented a panel or a page at a time, certain other shapes tend to retain their usefulness. Square panels, for instance, tend to be useful for a single action, conversation or subject. Horizontal panels tend to work for a vista or group scene, while vertical panels tend to work for tall stuff. But there are always exceptions like these, where horizontal panel uses the extra space to make its subjects seem isolated. And a series of vertical panels moves from a long shot of mostly empty sky toe a close up of an eye. In addition to sometimes changing the readers perception of a panel in the story flow, the page also brings with it certain limits that are important for the writer to know. For instance, the number of panels that can fit on a page. A typical modern comic page contains around 3 to 7 panel 3 to 5 for manga size books. A 22 page story will also typically include a few splash pages and or a double page spread . In practice, though, there's a lot of variation. The classic watchman was famously produced on a strict nine panel grit. This doesn't mean every page had nine panels, but even larger panels take up a set proportion of that grid. While it may seem odd to hear Watchman and Mickey Mouse mentioned in the same sentence, the scripts I wrote for Edmunds Disney Comics in Denmark were similarly produced on a strict eight panel grid. Each story began with a large panel taking up half the page or what was called picks, 1 to 4 of the grid. Likewise, each story ended with a horizontal panel taking a pic seventh rate for the writers. Those numbers were part of the script. For instance, pick 1 to 2, a long shot of duck burger. In all cases. Obviously, the more panel sharing a page, the smaller they have today. If you have 12 panels on a page, for example, some concern only be larger than others. But at least some are gonna be pretty small. Likewise, having one particularly large panel leaves less space for the others. Aside from the relatively rare use of a strict grid, it's the artist who decides the precise size and shape of the panel at the same time, the writer can call for a number of things, in addition to something specific to the story like, say, that binoculars shaped panel we saw earlier. By and large, those options include a splash page, a double page splash, a large panel, a small panel, a sequence of evenly sized panels, the horizontal panel or a vertical panel. Keep in mind that the large and small panel are sized relative to the other panels on the page. So, for instance, every panel on a page can't be large. You might think that the size of the subject is key to determining the panel size that big things need big panel. But while that's sometimes true, it's not necessarily the case. A city scape or even the planet Earth itself can comfortably fit into a small paddle while the head of a pin can take up a double page splash. The more important factors in determining panel size are the level of detail you need to get the story across and the dramatic impact that you want to give an image to have in terms of detail. If a panel showing a cityscape is small and artist would be hard pressed to show individual buildings or architectural specifics that may be fine, depending on this story needs. Likewise, a small panel showing a group of people would make it hard, if not impossible, for the artist to bring out all their individual qualities or emotional states. A large crowd might be reduced to a series of silhouettes, leaving even important characters indistinct so. In one sense, the writer's choice of panel size and shape should be relative to the story elements that the image has to communicate dramatically. Though the panel size also tells the reader how important something is, big panels feel important small panels, not so much. Ah, punch, for instance, can be done in a small panel but has more impact Wrought large similarly say a character crawls from the desert for a few panels dying of thirst and then finally finds a glass of ice water. Physically, the image of the glass can be rendered in a small panel, but a large pal or even a splash page has more dramatic impact in the context of the scene . Likewise, a big action sequence might have only two or three large panels per page. Well, it's a date. Conversation can comfortably go to six or even eight panels. When it comes to that dramatic impact, the story rhythm is key to deciding whether to use a larger, small panel toe accent. One beat over another. But it's not always the punch for the ice glass that works best. While using a splash page for just anything may not work at all, the most obvious choice isn't always the most effective. So how exactly do you make that decision? One way is by trial and error, as we saw in Lecture six with words. Specific panels focusing on different aspects of the scene produces different results. Similarly, after sometimes use an exercise in which they repeat a single line of dialogue, emphasizing a different word until finding what best suits the moment as in. To be or not to be, to be or not to be, to be or not to be. That same idea can be useful in exploring the effect of a larger panel or splash page on various story beats has your writing. That's something you can do in your head. But to see how it works, let's go back to our six panel sequence with Pete in the note and think about how each image might play is a large panel or splash page. Starting with Pete runs to a table with a letter on it. A splash page here would be useful is an establishing shot giving the artist space to fill in details on Pete in the room. And it would be particularly appropriate if this was the first page of a multi page story, which would also need space for the title. In story credits, Pete grabs the letter from the table. This would put the focus on the biggest physical action in the sequence. If Pete had impulse control, it could be used to bring out that character trade, but at the expense of story momentum, since at this stage, the reader wants what Pete wants to see. What's in the letter? Close appease Point of view. A hand written letter. Pete, if I don't see you by three AM robbing a bank. Ah, large image of this note would bring the story details on the floor. If we're attached to Pete in the letters of surprise, it could have a great impact. Medium shot Pete head up eyes wide, and Shaq is. He looks off panel. A large panel here would augment Pete's reaction. The effect would again depend on our attachment to Pete, but likely wouldn't work. Then again, looks of terror have filled many comic book page. Next up is close up Pete's point of view. A wall clock. It's five of three. This is an important story detail and, in a sense, the scenes climax. If the 1st 4 panels were the words in the sentence, a large panel or splash page here would end it with an exclamation point. Lastly, we have exterior bank day, long shot woman stands at the door. This is probably the most obvious choice, since we're both switching scenes and showing an important story moment. A larger image here would allow for detail on the bank and the woman as well. A set up the next scene in terms of the space on the page, panel sizes and the writers Onley consideration. There's also how many words fit in a panel are on the entire page, which I'll get into next time. Meanwhile, in these last two lectures, I've covered what may seem a daunting number of terms, tips and tools. Again, they are all in a sense decoration. Thinking about using them can augment and enhance your scripts. But story remains the core. Communicate that with clarity. Build outward bit by bit, adjust to your working situation and your final language in pace that works best for you and your creative partners. For now, I do so wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner way, way. 9. WComics L9 Words Reader Sees: lecture nine. The words the Reader Sees, which covers how to write in the limited space of a panel, deal with exposition, break up Dialogue for impact for Three Ways dialogue defines character and, lastly, the limits of dialogue. Yes, it's me where you're worried as we've seen Good springboard Synopsys and panel descriptions all require excellent verbal skills, but in the end they only have an audience of to the editor in the Artist. It's the captions, word balloons and thought balloons that are read by the world at large, making that the place writers can really struck their stuff is wordsmiths using everything from flow of conscious narrative district haiku in service of story content. In comics, anything is possible. Writers are limited on Lee by the wonders of human imagination. The space available forwards in the final product, though, is decidedly finite. To get a sense of how finite the average ward can for a standard comic book pages generally considered to be about 200 words multiply that by an average graphic novel page count of 100 40 and you get 28,000 words per graphic novel. For comparison, the typical novel runs about 80 to 100,000 words. This is not to say that the words in the comic book are any less important. A single word over an image can have terrific power. The right caption could be his unique and evocative Is the work of any author the right dialogue conglomerate her out of the water? Yet while all writers should choose their words carefully, that's especially true of the comic book writer, because you just don't have as many. Scarcity not only breeds value while a few words can do a lot in a panel, a lot of words is almost always too much. And this Batman panel humor. So it may be the words physically cramp the image, taking up half the space but dominating the panel. That sort of excess verbiage is more than a space issue. As we saw in Lecture six, a comic panel can be composed entirely of words, but string too many together and you're drifting towards pure prose. Losing what it is that makes a comic unique that limited space or verbiage may seem like a disadvantage, and in some ways, of course, it is on the dark side. It can pressure writers toward either a dull, dry style or the lazy shorthand of cliche. For our better angels, though it provides an intriguing challenge. The creation of concentrated language, language that can border or even become poetry. Personally paring down my prose not only forces me to eliminate redundancy, it helps me see up close. What makes the writing work or not having to deal with that tight space was an incredible learning tool for my later efforts as a novelist. But where do you start? How do you figure out what's enough in what's too much? As far as too little is concerned, the answer is simple. Since panels and entire sequences can be silent, there is no minimum word count in a comic, since there's no connection between word count and aesthetic success. And comic writers aren't paid by the word. There's no fiscal or artistic motive to include more words. There is a limit, though, and it depends on two things. The panels, physical size and its content in terms of physical size, a splash page and obviously hold more word balloons and captions than a small panel on a £9 page. That doesn't mean you should go out of your way to write Maurin Splash Page just because you can. A few extra words over an established location to create ambience or filling backstory certainly won't hurt as we'll see shortly when discussing exposition. But if you have a gorgeous splash page and might be best to let the image do most, if not all, of the talking with Paige and panel size varying wildly a sense of exactly how many words fit. Where is something comic writers build up over time? But you have to start somewhere, since beginners tend to write too much rather than too little. You may find these extremely rough maximums useful, as mentioned earlier, figure about 200 words per page for five panel page. A single panel, including all balloons and captions, would max out at about 35 words. For a nine panel page, it would be more like 25 words per panel. In any case, individual balloons and captions can safely hold about 20 to 25 words. But again, keep in mind how much variation is possible. Even in the four or £5 page, the panel size can vary, creating more or less room for the words. Likewise, if there's a lot going on in a given panel, just a few words can still wind up blocking the action. Writers can and should work to avoid space problems in advance by calling for a panel size and content in your script, then matches not only the story but the spatial need for the words to tell that story. All writers from novel the film struggle with exposition, the presentation of any background information. Audiences or readers need to make sense of this story, finding clever ways to cover what's essentially a data dump without impeding the current story. Momentum is an ongoing creative puzzle, like how so and so got the ability Shoot fire from their ears? Or how about you make both face Got his name. Interesting story. Whenever the writer of a monthly comic sits down to script a new issue, though, the first thing they face is figuring out how to recap the last issue for new readers with flashback images taking up a lot of space, the words usually do the heavy lifting and superhero team books like the various X Men Avengers 10 times or Justice League titles or any title with a big cast. The right are not only has to tell the reader what led up to the current situation, but also the names, powers, personalities and motives of all the players. I remember an entire X Men issue that consisted only of characters talking about previous stories. Nothing new happened until the last page one. A surprise guest showed up at the door, and I have no idea who they were. Publishers often try to solve the problem with some distinct text on the first page. But many eager readers skip over that, looking to the words balloons, captions in context to do the job. To make room for that extra verbiage, it could be handy to call for a panel that either goes and close to focus on something small in a scene or backs up for a long shot. As in these examples, a close up of a hand with a match, a pen or a knife or a wide view of building exterior, a room or some other vista can provide breathing space for the words. These examples also show us that not every word appears whole hog in a single caption. Likewise, Not every bit of someone's dialogue has to appear in a single balloon, bringing us to our next topic. Partly splitting up word balloons and captions has done to avoid big, ugly blobs of text. But when done correctly, it can provide yet another dramatic tool for the writer. Justice. Moving from panel to panel has different Effects Picking the right moment to break up your text can do several things. Add to the ambience of a scene, echo the kings of speech or emphasize dramatic beats. Note the difference in this example from our old pal Nancy Drew. We'd be out of here in no time. If I could start the car, we'll be out of here in no time. If I could start the car in the second example, you can practically feel Nancy twisting the ignition. Key Brakes can also be used to point to a particular aspect of an image within a given panel, or even across panels for exciting and unique results. Forgive me, but my favorite example of this is a blooper from a 19 sixties Captain America story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In the first panel caps, dialogue is broken up into two balloons. The second balloon starts a sentence that doesn't end until the second panel. Together, the words and image pulls the reader into the action so strongly you may have to read that sentence twice to realize the mistake engaged. You missed it. I'll give you a few extra seconds before moving on to the next topic. Huh? While appearance, facial expression and body stands can go a long way to defining a character, what character says and the words they used to say, it often makes the difference between the captivating illusion of a living world on a bunch of lines. On a page. In the lectures on panel descriptions, I made the point that adding specifics can make things feel more alive, but they also take up more space. Here we face the same dilemma. Adding a lot of character tends to take up more words. Given the space concerns, writing bare bones can be more tempting, raising the old danger of throwing out the baby with the bathroom. This exchange, for instance, provides character and exposition, but it 50 words, it's pretty long cutting that down to four words might give us needed plot details but the results in part little or no personality on the flip side of a given characters well established and the artist effectively communicates their emotional state. This extreme shorthand can work. In fact, having a particular character use only one word. Sentences could be a personality trait. But if all the dialogue is short, dry and dull, the story will be, too. In any event, not using a character's dialogue to express the personality in some way is always a missed opportunity, as it is with so many things in life, the universe and everything. The trick is finding a balance, honing in on a few words that still import character. Here's that same dialogue at a more reasonable 17 words. Okay, there are lots of ways to express personality and dialogue, but most fall into three categories. Catchphrases, speech, quirks and word choice. A catchphrase is a pithy sentence that over time becomes associated with the character. For example, just reading or hearing these phrases will identify the characters for most. Even if the images air shovel as such, a catchphrase can actually announce someone's presence before the reader even sees him providing not only a sense of the character but potential merchandising opportunities. Since a catchphrase only says one thing. They're storytelling, use is limited, and even the best catch phrases usually arise from writers using the two other far more flexible tools, speech quirks and word choice. The speech work is a matter of phrasing that stands out from the norm. One example, as I mentioned earlier, might be a character that uses only one word. Sentences, another, an obsessive character that only uses a liberation where a shy character is constantly hesitating between words. The last option word Choice is perhaps the most flexible, focussing on the terms of character might use based on their personality rather than particular content in broad strokes. And intellectual might use long words while someone lacking confidence might have trouble getting to the point for a better understanding of how word choice works. Let's take a look at how different personalities might convey the same basic information here. The simple request. Can I have a drink of water? Can be used to express a variety of personality traits. Manipulative. Are you gonna keep that water all to yourself? Commanding water now, Industrias. Why would a glass of water like that I could rule the world polite. I'm sorry. It's just that I'm so thirsty, threatening. I've killed for water before introverted. If only I could bring myself to ask for that water. Notice that none of these use a lot of words but still get across something about the character. As with our earlier splash page exercise, practicing the sort of variation can be a good learning tool. In any event, if you're ever stuck trying to figure out how a particular character would say something, trying to imagine how some other character would say it can help a sign from the space on the page, there are some limits to what dialogue can accomplish in a comic book as opposed to other forms of media. I think that's largely because the voice the reader here's will always be their own meaning is generated internally, not externally, by a performer. When it comes to a performance, it's no longer just about the words. It's been said that a truly great actor can read from a phone book and make it compelling. If Richard Burton or Ian McKellen is talking, the words don't matter so much to a large extent That's true. An African say the 1000 different unexpected ways, their tone in volume shifting, their face twisting and turning with vast complexity in a comic. Sorry, while you can do something sort of like that, no, you can't actually do that to go back to the strengths and weaknesses of the various media . While comics provide tools that can mimic the tone and cadence of speech, and artists can use posture, gesture and expression, even the best image of a face and a comic is static. Even the best words aren't externally performed. As a result, it's very difficult to keep something like a soliloquy or even long stretches of conversation interesting in and of themselves. To make that point, I want to take a look at what might be one of the best possible examples of a long speech done in comic form. Will Eisner, one of the finest writer artists comics has ever seen, rendered Hamlets famous to be or not to be soliloquy as a comic in his excellent and highly recommended book comics and sequential art, which you should read right after or during making comics. Some will vehemently disagree with me on this it's Will Eisner. He can do no wrong. But in my opinion, the results are mixed at best. To see what I mean, Take a close look at the two pages following, and while you read, think about how the sequence works. Okay, welcome back. Well, you get a nice sense of the emotional extremes to my mind. You don't get the same subtleties and actor could convince. Uh, there's the rub for in that sleep of death. What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil must give us pause. While Hamlet's speech is, of course, open to interpretation and one performance differs from another, there's a right quality to these words that don't come across in the comic at all. It's all painfully serious, but I think the bigger part of my issue here is that expertly rendered and pretty as it is , we're still just looking at a guy posing and talking, and I think that's inherent in the form. When you hear and see a soliloquy performed in those fleeting moments, the words take your mind to different places in a comic. Since your mind is already busy contributing the movement between the panels and connecting them to the words. The images here, in a sense, keep you stuck on that rooftop. At the beginning of the course, I said that anything. Words and pictures conduce separately, words and pictures conduce together and arguably more, while my stands on this peace and dialogue in general may feel like a contradiction, it's not. I still believe that I remain convinced that something conveying all the subtleties of Hamlet's speech can be done in comics. Forward Looking at Here is more about taking something written for another form meant to be performed and forcing it verbatim onto sequential art rather than building something up that takes advantage of the form shrinks to convey the same ideas. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for experimentation and will license a genius. But point being, if he only sort of succeeds in rendering a soliloquy in comic form, where does that leave the rest of us? For my money, there's more to be gained by focusing on the medium strength for writers. That means not just the words but their interplay with images that, as you may recall, don't move to that end. When it comes to dialogue there's a general rule not necessarily my own, which I'm gonna place in an oval to keep it safe forever. Never. And it is, always try to combine your dialogue with something other than or in addition to characters . Just speaking. I don't only mean having characters talk during battle scenes, though that often works. I mean focusing on different aspects of any seen averted eyes, trembling fingers, that sort of thing, whatever but preferably something that expresses their personality alternately, don't show the speaker speakers at all if they're talking about someone else, put their dialogue and captions over an image of that person for over a plot point that the speakers aren't aware of yet just avoid at all costs. Panel after panel is static talking heads unless, of course, that inherently dull, droning aspect is part of the point you're trying to make. But all that said, I want to reiterate that there are circumstances where none of the rules hold true. That's part of the fun. So while tools and rules are important in a great place to begin again and again and again , whatever works works at the same time. If you had to break the rules, knowing what they are and why they exist makes it much easier to break them in a fruitful way. Meanwhile, top of the world MMA top of the world way, way. 10. WComics L10 Redundancy: lecture. 10. Redundancy, Redundancy, Redundancy. If you see one lecture this year, it should be this. And it covers how to recognize and eliminate the three types of redundancy. And under what circumstances, redundancy can actually be useful. Hi, I'm Stefan Petricka, and unless you haven't seen the other lectures, that should be redundant information made even more redundant by my putting my name below part of being stepped on the trigger means I've been writing my own successful scripts for a few decades now. Over the last few years, I've also read work from hundreds of students. Some of it is amazing, some more, obviously from people just starting out. Based on that, I want to take a close look at what stands out to me. Is the biggest stumbling block for beginners and old hats alike, not only in writing comics but in writing anything. As you may have guessed from the title. It's redundancy. I think it's so important. If you take one thing away from this course, it should be this lecture. I'm serious about this totally serious, absolutely, totally serious. See what I did there? Two words I'm serious would have sufficed, for that matter, Why say it at all? Don't you assume I'm serious? So what is redundancy? The handy online MacMillan Dictionary defines it as a situation in which something is not needed, especially because the same thing or a similar thing already exists. In short, it's needless repetition. But what's wrong with it? Well, as the talking heads say in Psycho Killer, say something once. Why say, to get needless repetition not only ruins flow. It's a quick way to destroy writings. Grand illusion, reminding readers that they're staring at mere words and not experiencing a world in a comic, which only has so much space for the words to begin with, it takes up real estate on the page that could be put to better use. This is not to say that repetition has no use third times when you want to remind your readers about a plot details or create a stylistic rhythm. More on that later. The crucial thing is that in good writing, redundancy should be used on Leah's a conscious choice, never as an abdication of effort, problem being. For most of us, repetition comes naturally as we right, we search for the right word or phrase on. Often more than one comes to mind in the creative rush of a first draft. We tend to use them all, even in revisions, depending on the type of information being repeated and the way it's repeated. Redundancy can be tough to spot, as in the famous phrase coined by Firesign Theater back in 1970 will be guaranteed by your Department of Redundancy department and natural Guard. Redundancy is often thought of his mere word repetition, but it could be more than that operating on different levels. Even the Firesign Theater joke is redundant in more ways than one, referring not just to the concept of the word itself but to the redundant departments found in real world bureaucracies. I found it useful to think about the different types of redundancy in terms of three categories, all of which can ruin otherwise good writing, using alliteration to make them easier to remember. The categories are core redundancy, conceptual redundancy and contextual redundancy. Others may have come up with similar concepts, but I've never seen them set out this way. The core redundancy refers to that basic word repetition, as in the Firesign Theater joke, the world being a sad and funny place. Riel life. Examples of court redundancy about importantly, core redundancies can easily be confused with a similar but different issue. Overuse. The overuse of the word or phrase can have the same effect and should likewise be avoided. But unlike redundancy, the information itself isn't repeated. Prisons. The cat was small, small, small would be a core redundancy, since yes, we get it already. The cat is small. The cat was small, the dog was small and the house was small. Would be an example of overuse. Telling us the cat was small provides different information than telling us the dog was small, but it's also not very efficient, a faster but perhaps less rhythmic way of saying the same thing would be the cat dog and house world. Small in the small space of a single comic panel. Both overuse and core redundancy are pretty easy to spot, provided that you're looking for them and longer works. Overuse, in particular, can be more difficult to weed out, given word or phrase that may have been perfect. The first time can quickly become tedious for the reader. Even beloved catchphrases can wear thin and tracking them across multiple pages isn't always easy. In that case, keep a list of suspects. When you proofing enter them into your word processor search function that will not only find them, it'll count how many times you've used that particular word or phrase. Core redundancies and overuse involve identical words or phrases. The conceptual redundancy information is repeated but using different words. As a result, conceptual redundancies could be a short as two words. Many of the two word variety or common a few examples include cease and desist collaborated groups gathered together and absolutely essential. Interestingly, in my classes, students will sometimes argue that summer role of these phrases aren't redundant. While I sympathize in each case, a closer look reveals the repetition. To cease is to desist. You can't collaborate without a group to gather is to bring together, and it's either essential or it's not meaning. If it's essential, it's already absolutely essential, essential? Not essential. Those are the choices. One reason conceptual redundancies could be tougher to spot is that they're used so often informally they feel natural. Even these examples sound more like a way to emphasize something, rather than repeating it to cease and desist sounds much more important than just ceasing or desisting. But it's not. It's just saying the same thing twice. When it comes to conceptual redundancies, though, the most difficult to spot are those that go beyond two words. The trickier examples can include multiple sentences or even paragraphs such as tears flowed freely from Martin's eyes. He was crying. Why is that redundant? We already know. Martin's crying because of the tears, or the dog pushed its legs hard, moving as fast as it could. It was running. If the dog is pushing its legs hard and moving as fast as it can, of course it's running. That's what running is. These examples, I hope, are obvious. Intended to get the idea. Of course, clearly in practice, it could be a lot tougher. The more spread out the repeated information is, the harder it is to notes, tears flowed freely from Martin's eyes. He stumbled about the room trying to gather his thoughts, but could not. He was crying at the same time, at least with corn conceptual redundancies, we're still dealing exclusively with words. That's not true contextual redundancy where the repetition occurs because the situation or context already makes certain information clear. Given the combination of words and images. Comic books were particularly vulnerable to contextual redundancy. Let's go back to our example of a duo specific panel from the lecture on word and Art. The image shows a superhero flying above the city. The caption says. Our hero flies above the city Thought balloon from our hero reads. Being hero, I think I'll fly over the city. The context of the scene has already established all that, making the words superfluous. In practice, though, there are instances and comics where the artisans is clears. It might be, and the information it's supposed to convey is critical to understanding the story, for instance, that a character is holding a gun in that case, if you can't clearly see the gun or it isn't apparent that it is a gun, using the words to clarify the situation is legit. As another example of common contextual redundancy, how many of us have received emails or letters? Remember those that open with phrases like I'm writing to you today? If you're writing to someone, of course you're right. And when else would you be writing if not on the day that you're writing. Even if you could time travel, you'd still be riding on your today. When writing anything from pitches to full scripts, consider the situation. For instance, if you're contacting your editor about a graphic novel, the context already tells him at least three things. A that you're writing be that you're writing about some creative work and see that the creative work is yours. Yet I've often seen student pitches open with phrases like I'm writing to tell you about my fiction story, which tells the tale How much of that should you keep? None. It's not only all apparent from the context, it takes a valuable space that could be used for your content description. By the way, this example also contains two conceptual redundancies. Can you spot them? Time's up. A story is, by definition, fiction. That, of course, tells a tale. Since contextual redundancies don't consist of words, it's tempting not to consider them redundancies at all. That's particularly if he when it comes to comics, and you want that plot point absolutely clear. But whether you need to cut just one more line to fit your pitches on a single page where you want your writing. Is Titus possible? Or even if you just want clarity and organizing your innermost thoughts? Trust me. Eliminating redundancy can be incredibly useful. Speaking of usefulness, while I firmly believe that were done and see in all its forms is a devious obstacle to good writing When used intentionally like fire, it can be a powerful tool. As I said earlier, Sometimes you'll want to remind the reader or something, as I did just now, when I repeated myself to let you know that we're now returning to a previously mentioned topic and hopefully reassuring you that there's some structure to these lectures. Likewise, and longer works. It could be important to touch back on an important plot or character detail, especially if that detail was first introduced 20 pages ago. Good thing I took the bullets out of that gun back in Cincinnati. We're didn't He can also be used for dramatic effect. He's dead. Jim dead at the same time, is a cautionary tale. This line was used so often in the original Star Trek, it became a cliche. Lastly, repetition could be used to enhance aesthetic flow, the rhythms of dialogue or the poetics of a descriptive passage. Take a look at this stanza from the Bells by Edgar Allan Poe. Okay, notice out. Repeats words like bells, tingle and time to great effect. Here the repetition conjures the sound itself. The point again is to use repetition consciously. And the only way to do that is to scour your writing for all three forms. Have you find a redundancy you want to keep? Make sure you have a great ironclad reason. Otherwise, as they say in Apocalypse now, eliminate it with extreme prejudice. Way. No way. 11. WComics L11 Comics for a Living: Lecture 11 Writing Comics for a Living, which covers formatting specs, my own experience with the industry from the three basic paths between your work and the reader. Yet it's me, that guy talking to one last time about this, having pointed out the difficulties of exposition and the problems with redundancy. I think it only right to mention that while much of this fine Elektra will be is delightful and inciting as usual, some of it will be something of a data dump. I'll also be repeating a few things covered previously. But here, in the context of the choices facing beginning comic writers, we begin with the hopelessly dry topic of because, let's face it, there's no exciting way to talk about in dense and margins anyway. The script examples I've used throughout these lectures have all been formatted roughly the same way I hand in my work to an editor, an artist with one notable exception. The font here. I've used Courier new to make it stand out more in real life, though I use 12 point times new Roman, partly since I find it particularly readable partly at a habit. Well, you never want to use some weird fund that'll hurt your ears, aesthetic sensibilities and or their eyes, the specific choices. More about personal taste. As for the other formatting specs as examples, I'll be using excerpts of my full script from the paper cut slices parody Harry Potty and the Deathly Boring with art by the delightfully insane Rick Parker. And here we Go. The number of the comic book pages opposed to the script document page appears centered at the top panel descriptions or flush left and numbered per page, meaning that the first panel each page will be panel. One panel number is followed by a tab to set off the description, which is single space with a line between paragraphs, captions, sound effects and character names. Air indented 2.5 inches from the left and appear in all caps. If the text following is anything other than a word balloon that's indicated in parentheses as in Thought or SFX for sound effect, any words the reader sees are indented 1.5 inches on both the left and the right stressed words air indicated in bold, the same way they will appear in the finished comic. Lastly, each new comic page should begin on a new document page. On occasion, the script for a single comic book page will take up more than one page in your document. In that case, repeat the comic page number at the top, followed by continued in all caps and parentheses. And here's the full script, taking up to document pages side by side with the final results. I found this format similar to a film script, useful and easy to understand, but there is no hard fast rule. Some writers, for instance, don't invent the dialogue at all, while others don't use page breaks between script pages. While full scripts are the most common, as you may recall, in the Marvel Way, the writer uses the rough art to create the words the reader sees and indicates their placement on the page. In that case, you'll want to format your script to match numbering the captions and dialogue along the entire page as seen here. And that's better for Four Matic. As I said, boring but important. Now I want to talk about the profession itself, starting with, for better or worse, me. I first encountered comics in 1967 when my grandfather sat me on his knee with this very issue of Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen. It was written perhaps ironically by the first added, Who gave me the time of day Jim Shooter. I was not only hooked by new words like fortress and solitude at a very young age for years , along with childhood pal Jim Sala Krupp, I read collected in savored comics. Eventually I added book books, and somewhere along the line decided I wanted to be a writer. After getting my B A in literature, I sold a few practice bloods to marvel. The first a God Awful doctor. Strange story for gym Shooter. But I didn't make any real headway until the late 19 eighties, when I created several Siris for first publishing. Like many independent comic Cos. At the end of the eighties, comic boom first sadly, went out of business, though some of the work I'd written for them eventually wound up being published by Dark Horse and marvels Epic line. After that, I somehow made a pretty decent living writing comic scripts that were never published. We're talking 10 or so projects with multiple issues. Sometimes the publisher would go out of business. Sometimes an editor would be fired. For several years, I felt like the Barton Fink of the comic book industry in terms of popularity. My big break came in the mid nineties as the writer of The X Files comic for Tops. Childhood pal Jim Sell a Crop was editor in Chief Charlie Add Lard, best known for his work on the walking Dead, was the Artist and the Gorgeous Covers or by Meron Kim. Several collections have been published over the years, and I'm thrilled to say they're still being read Post X Files. I scripted over 350 stories for Mickey Mouse and go for the Danish company Sigma. These were translated into 34 languages and sold across the globe, But for years I never saw them in English. These days, aside from teaching online, I write novels and nonfiction in various genres for adults and young adults. I still keep my hand in comics with projects such as Bail, the Vantage, a graphic novels, Power Rangers, Hotel Transylvania and manage sores. Overall, though, they're only been a few rare occasions where I've made a living exclusively is a comic book writer that may be more specific to my particular path, but my sense is that it's more the rule than the exception point being that wall, it's possible to strike it. Rich is a comic book writer. It's kind of like winning a lottery, a lottery that requires a certain amount of skill, just about a ticket, meaning that it's not something most writers should go into expecting a lot of money or any . It's something you do because you like it. There is no other compelling reason that said, it's also perfectly reasonable to want to get your work out there and in the hands of readers. Which brings us to our next section. For the comic book writer, there are three basic paths to publication. Mainstream comic publishers, large and small, traditional book publishers and self publishing. Mainstream includes the Big Fish Marvel, owned by Disney DC Comics, owned by Warner Dark Horse and a host of Smaller Independence. Though some of these companies are known for their action superhero books and their Hollywood ties, the major players produced comics and graphic novels in various genres, styles and formats, including manga, and they do so on a regular schedule with established and new characters. The biggest comic book companies have also become increasingly difficult to break into. The Marvel Comics website, for instance, currently reads. If you are an aspiring comic book artist or writer, we suggest you publish or publicly poster material continue to create, and if you have the right stuff, we'll find you, as I mentioned back in lecture for the writers role. Production in the mainstream is, while not necessarily hectic or machine like geared toward that steady flow of material. This tends to make the atmosphere more akin to a magazine or a newspaper office. Then say a traditional book publisher, storylines can be created in groups and team collaboration. Encouraged comic writers and the mainstream are hired on a freelance basis and generally work on existing characters that are either owned by the publisher or licensed payment is determined based on the page rate. With the writer building, the publisher are filling out a voucher when the work is approved, the Czech usually appears a few weeks to a month later, additional payments or possible based on sales of the work. These air referred to his incentive payments as opposed to royalties which I'll discuss shortly. If the writer creates a new character for an existing universe, they may receive additional payments. One. And if that character is used elsewhere here, it gets a little tricky because the larger companies have a variety of imprints on the contract terms Convey vary from imprint imprint. Adding a new super villain to the huge Marvel universe provides one set of terms under other circumstances. For specific imprints or smaller comic publishers, creators can be offered more flexible deals where they retained the copyright. For instance, for My Work on Lands Barnes for Marvel's epic line, I've retained the copyright to my experience. Even in those cases, comic book companies expect to keep a share of any ancillary rights to the characters, meaning rights beyond publishing, including things like movie and television rights. Importantly, this is not generally the case with traditional book publishers. In terms of steady work, a particularly successful mainstream creator might be offered an exclusive contract promising study work for a period in exchange for the creator agreeing to work on Lee for that company for the duration of the contract. Other comic publishers, such as Tokyo pop in visit, specialized in manga, both translations from the original Japanese and new material their atmospheres, actually somewhere between a magazine office and a book publisher. In fact, thanks largely to the manga boom, which by the mid nineties brought comics into traditional bookstores in a financially impressive manner, traditional book publishers took note and began producing their own graphic novels, either themselves or through a subsidiary and in the process, became a viable but very different choice for comic creators going to their history. Book publishers naturally treat comics more like, yes book books in terms of the atmosphere, deadlines and the contract terms they offer. There are some differences, though Justus, D. C. Or Marvel produce ongoing Siri's book publishers can do like what, but their efforts don't generally appears frequently or is regularly is, say, a monthly, saddle stitched comic. But that said, some book publishers do operate with a similar assembly line mentality and have been doing so for decades. From the late 19th to the mid 20th century, the shells were full of dime novels in Pulp Fiction with serious, such as Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. The basic characters were conceived not by alone writer, but by the publisher, who then assigned paragraph long plots, uncredited freelancers to be presented under the House names Carolyn Keene and Franklin Dixon, who Sorry don't exist. But having worked with Carolyn Keene, I want to say that she's a wonderful, hardworking, non person. Likewise, a small romance mystery or horror publisher whose success is based more on a number of exactly the same. Only different titles can have a similar field. Same goes for license novels that use popular characters from film and television. I don't know if this is always the case, but in my experience, book publishers handle the relationship between writer and artist differently from comic book publishers treating the artist more like an illustrated performing a separate task traditionally, and Children's book publishing. For instance, once the writer hands in the story, the artist has left to produce their work on their own with little or no communication between the two. When working on Babel for HarperCollins, for instance, I was discouraged from contacting artist Cody Chamberlin directly about the book. I think this is seen as a form of respect for the talents in the domain of the artist and writer, and perhaps a fear of too many cooks spoiling the results. Of course, if a publisher's approached by an artist and writer team, they wouldn't necessarily interfere with a partnership that's already in place. It is a very different experience from mainstream comics, though, where communication is actively encouraged and everyone has their thoughts. Another particularly important distinction of the contract terms traditional book publishers offer, which are again naturally due to their history, more like book contracts. If the material is wholly original, the author retains the copyright. If you have a halfway decent agent, you'll also retain the movie and ancillary rights rather than a page rated incentive bonuses. Book publishers offer in advance against royalties from the difference is worth a closer look similar to a page rate in one sense and advances a set amount of money that the author receives up front. There's some variation, but generally, rather than receiving the entire mount on approval, the author receives 1/3 of the agreed advance on signing the contract. Ah, third on having a final version of the script accepted and the final third on publication. The royalties air generally calculated every six months and are based on the retail cover price. For a sense of how that works, let's use some simple numbers. Suppose you received a $5000 advance against a 5% royalty rate on a book that sells for $5 . That makes the author's share of the cover price 25 cents per book. When and if the book sells 20,000 copies, The amount of your 5% royalty now matches the $5000 advance you received, and it's said to have earned out. In other words, the publishers made back the advance, and for every copy of the book sold above 20,000 copies, the authors owed 25 cents. Even if the book sell zero copies, the author gets to keep the advance but again doesn't turn any additional money until after those 20,000 copies were sold. In reality, that royalty rate will very based on book club bulk discount on remainder sales. But that's the basic idea. The final option, easiest to achieve and increasingly popular, is to find an amenable artist produced the work on your own and self published digitally. The advantages air greater control over your work, and if there are profits a far greater share of them. Self publishing online has such a little financial risk. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend spending money on printing physical copies at all until you've had some success in gaining a following. Keep in mind unless you have substantial resource, is the money spent on your first project won't necessarily be there for your second. Throwing all the cash you have into an early effort could well hobble your ability to try again down the line. And it's a tough haul because the competition online is beyond stiff. With so much content available, it's difficult to earn attention. And with so much of the content free, it's harder still to earn any money in all realms of creative work. Promotion has always been important with a bookshelf as big as the Internet. It's critical marketing. Your work is, of course, all on its own. But even the best marketers will admit that it's more magic than science. Luck plays a huge role. The best way to improve the odds is to go in for the long haul, be prepared to start small and build your audience slowly over time. Remember, many overnight successes are decades in the making, so those are the three paths. 1 may sound superior, but the devil is always in the details. While big established companies exert more control and keep a bigger share of the profits. They also offer professional editorial supervision, tried and true distribution systems and at least some income up front. Similarly, the fact that a book publisher allows the creator to retain the movie rights may sound like a better deal, but in practice, those rights are only worth with someone's willing to pay for them. And the book publisher isn't actively trying to sell their focused on selling books. With the mainstream comic publisher actively trying to develop their content for movies, TV and toys, they arguably stand a better chance of generating income than a book publisher or alone creator working on their own. Simply put 10% of a $1,000,000. It's much better than 100% of nothing. On the other hand, Kevin Eastman and Peter Lad produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles all on their own and became millionaires many times over. In fact, early on in their success, they were offered a deal from a mainstream publisher and refused since they were already earning more than the publisher offered. Obviously, for them, it was the right decision to return to a phrase I've often used in this course. It's a balancing act. The right decision for you depends on your goals, your abilities, your resource is your circumstance and a lot of careful thought. And that brings us to the end of this lecture and the course. Thanks for listening. I hope you've enjoyed it. But more than that, I hope you found it useful. Either way, let me know. Likewise. If you have any questions, drop me a line in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer. Meanwhile, we'll meet again, Don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day way.