A hand reached up from the rocky cliff dangling over the ocean. The fingernails from her right hand dug deep into the drying mud on the planted rocks. And slowly the rest of her emerged… Eliza was back… after falling off the face of the earth. She was hungry, cold and after a few weeks of recouperating was ready again to return to WrenKraft.
This summer as you seek for a vacation from the heat, or want to keep your kids brains in shape during the break or seek a rare read as you lay out getting sunburned consider “choosing your own adventure” and making a comic book.
Here’s how I did it:
Of course there is more to it than simply drawing on pieces of paper folding them in half and stapling them together. Of course you could technically do just that, have yourself a comic and stop reading this… But let me break down a few creative recommendations to help you make a true treasure.
Comic creation isn’t as hard as it seems and really the only place you can go is up. It may be the cheapest hobby (literally the cost of a few sheets of paper and the allotted loss of ink or graphite from your medium of choice). Compare this to other crafts. And if it stinks toss it (don’t really- as least first scan a copy- you may find it humorous in the future).
Content: For a first comic write about what you know. Be it something you are familiar with (an office environment, raising kids, or sweaty bandmates). This doesn’t mean you can’t write for the fantasy world but be sure it’s a subject you’ve spent enough time with. Keep your first story very simple. I’ll go ahead and stop here as my confidence in myself as a literary teacher is quite low. If you’re here for fruitful writing content advice – my advice is to get it elsewhere – this is a craft blog and English was one of my worst subjects in school.
Moving onto actual dialogue: the dialogue in many graphic novels is sparse and filled with exclamations (my first instinct was to write expletives – which maybe that too – but it’s just a shining example of my grammar skills – that and for years believing it was called an explanation point). Buy back to my point, film school 101 teaches that it’s best to write with as little (if any) dialogue as possible to get your point across. I feel that’s healthy advice for comic writing as well.
Art: This is where it’s best to embrace what you have. No need to be Stan Lee. If you’re in that ball park terrific, but stick figures can be just as engaging if done right. The concept should go hand in hand (or in comical contrast) with your visual style. This is what will make your book entertaining. Black and white (as I did) is a safe bet and can make your book double as a coloring book. If you chose to use color consider the feel of your scenes. One idea would be to pick 1-3 colors per page (even if a different set of three colors every other page). Use cool colors (blues especially) for darker/sadder scenes and warms for happier funnier ones. I’ll stop here with the art advice – as once again this is not the purpose of my blog.
Now that you supposedly have your story and visuals in mind let’s get to creating. No matter what you plan to use as a final product I would suggest beginning on plain paper. Films begin with storyboards and storyboards are basically comics, but whose to say your “storyboards” can’t have “storyboards” of their own. This is where you decide your final definite texts and who and what will be pictured in each frame. And who knows you may just like these prep copies enough to use them as the real thing. Once you have this mapped out pick your medium and work on transferring the work. Either mentally sketching all over again, tracing onto new paper, or scanning and working digitally. This is a great project for kids. If they have the patience and drive they can jump on the full project or if they would better handle a more focused role have them pick one. Let your 4 year old come up with a story then you make it come to life or maybe let your 2nd grader do the art.
I highly recommend and basically DEMAND that you scan (300 dpi+) your finished product. You could then use the digital version to make multiple copies, wrapping paper, or let your book double as a coloring book with no loss to the original. If nothing else, you put all of this work into it, you should preserve and digitize your work. Scanning is one of my “basic needs” when it comes to projects.
And finally Here are my creative platform ideas to add to or alter the above instructions…
-don’t forget your cliffhanger leading to a potential sequel- an ingredient in any good comic story.
-trace over photos or images from magazines for your basis
-use old greeting cards (cut them all to the same size and use this as your base/background you draw over
-have your pages increase and decrease in size as they go
-for a baby friendly comic consider basic images using felt.
-if you’re really ambitious consider making it a pop up book, nothing says, “Pow” or “Whamm” like 3D
-create a great personalized gift for someone by making them the lead.
-for extra durability consider laminating or utilizing my Portable Laminating Technique.