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comicocisty pt. 1 – The Script

October 16, 2006

I had alot of problems trying to find the right place to begin with this blog and the discussion of the comic making process. Action News Go has gone through a number of false starts and I’ve obliterated some of my initial efforts – feeling like the posts were too unfocused.


larger version

The madness you see before you is a sample of the third draft for, ‘The Barefoot Girl’ (henceforth abbreviated to BFG).

After you’ve puzzled around with some rough ideas and concepts for the story, characters and events etc, its time to get to brass tacks and start scripting. Some folks can just dig right into the drawing process, essentially telling the story as they draw, but I like the structure and control that scripting grant you. It’s kind of like a filter, with each stage, (scripting, editing, thumbnails, roughs, pencils, and inking) giving you another oppurtunity to improve things.

Cutting the fat is important in writing. I went through three drafts, each time finding superflous content that didn’t help the story along, or editing/re-jigging ideas that no longer jived with the whole.

In this sense, you have to be pretty merciless with your own work. Often times you might fall in love with a moment, a character or an event, and it might be heartbreaking to have to get rid of something that is just so damn cool but suck it up, it has to be done.

Scripting BFG actually took longer then I thought. Actually, the whole project is taking much longer then I had first anticapted. If folks can take away one thing from Action News Go!, I hope they can see the immense effort it takes to get a comic off the ground. I know for my own education, working on BFG has been a very humbling experience.

Scripting took as long as it did because of the revisions. I’d walk away from writing, coming back to the work after a few hours or even the next day with fresh eyes. In the same vein, taking the script and showing it to Cameron and Chip was huge.

They helped to spot parts that seemed just too illogical, and also pushed me to expand or make other bits even better. I know that art directors/editors/teachers can sometimes put too much of thier own biases into thier critiques, comments, so it was great having folks who were really encouraging. It is to their credit that they were able to make suggestions and still strike the right balance of ‘keeping it real’ and ‘bigging it up’ , especially given the wildly incongruent nature of the story.

So, what the hell is BFG all about anyways?

I’ve had a hard time trying to explain that when folks ask me, but the quick and easy answer is that it’s pretty much everything that I love and my experiences all rolled up into one big comic.

Heres a quick run down of what you’ll find in BFG:

Grafitti, Ghosts, Robots (both large and small), breakdancing, jet packs, martial arts, shamanism, language, communication, community, love, being lonely, geekism, hip hop, video games, etc etc etc.

Theres alot of stuff in the comic, and there was even more like spirit animals and aliens, but as the script evolved some things dissappear and new ideas emerge.

Lets take a more indepth look at this page:

On the left, we have the script, and on the right, enough blank space to fill in with the first set of thumbnails. I organized the story first into three issues (or chapters) and within that, several scenes. I tried to describe each scene on a single page, although that didn’t always work out, still – it was useful to have everything on one sheet as I began to work out the panels.

You can see on the right, as well as wherever else I could doodle, there are thumbs – sometimes the panels are blank with notes as to what will go in there, and other times, little sketches. I might even map out the pages before and after this scene – keeping in mind the all mighty power of the page turn.

I’m getting into thumbnail territory now, which is another topic onto itself, so we’ll get to that bit in another post.  Scripting proved to be a pretty unique challenge, in that writing creatively isn’t something that I’m used to doing. It really forced me to use a different part of my brain. I’ll be honest, I’d even get headaches, thats how poor my writing skills are.

The last thing I’ll mention is writers block. It happened quite alot, and likely the source of my headaches. Thinking, which you might believe is necessary to writing, can be counter-productive. Here is a method that worked for me: If I was stuck, I actually would just write, switching into a kind of stream of conciousness mode. If I at least had something on the page, I could look at it later and change and improve it, which is preferable over just desperatly staring at a blank page.

There is nothing worse then having that blinking type cursor impatiently wait for you to make your mark on a fresh word document.

blink – blink – blink

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