40 Day Graphic Novel: Writing

August 27, 2014 § 1 Comment

If you’d like to make a graphic novel, but are afraid to begin, remember that the best thing about being an amateur is that you don’t have to do things the way you’re “supposed to do it.” This freedom is most evident when it comes to writing.

My experience with film industry professionals is
that most of them won’t take you seriously without a full, properly-formatted script. I attribute this to a lack of imagination and a fear of investors. But comics have always been more free, with no standard script format and with the industry’s use of Marvel Style, which seems to be a format that can range from being a one-page outline to a phone conversation between artist and editor. (Bendis’ Words With Pictures is a great source for artist and writer interviews on Marvel Style.)

If you’re the artist as well as the writer, who needs a full script? I consider myself first and foremost a writer (I’ve got the pay stubs to prove it) but in the past, when I’ve started comic book projects with a full script, I found it limited my imagination as an
artist. Instead, I started my 40 day graphic novel Mnemosyne with a page by page outline:


I’m big on structure, if not full scripts.

Next, I draw thumbnails of an entire chapter:


I put a few lines of dialog and captions here so I get a sense of the layout and page turn, and so I remember how my characters are “acting.”

Then I just draw the pages:


I’m making a graphic novel, not writing a script, and I don’t need to tell anyone else how to draw something. Granted, I’ve been working on this idea for over a year, but the outline only took a couple days. Scripts are never set in stone anyway.

Obviously, this is just my way of doing it. Many people wouldn’t want to draw a 90 page graphic novel in 40 days either.


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