9 Quick Tips On Creating Comics From Writer Neil Gibson
Here is a condensed list of things I’ve learnt. I’m sure I’ve violated most if not all of these at some point, but learn from my mistakes and don’t make the errors I did!
- DRAFTS: Write more than one! The first time you write a story, you are telling yourself the story. The second time you write it, you are figuring out the best way to tell others the story. Repeat… write more than one draft!
- PANELS: A very common error when detailing the action in panels is to include someone doing multiple actions in one panel. The character can’t tie her shoelaces and shoot someone in the same panel. Similarly you can’t have a pulsating light in just one panel-I’ve seen scripts calling for both of these things.
- BALLOONS: If a balloon contains more than 20 to 25 words, it’s going to look too big. Split the balloon into 2 to make it easier on the reader. DC had an old rule of thumb saying there should be a maximum of 210 words per page.
- DIALOGUE: Avoid cliche, come up with a new way for your character to say what needs to be said, away the crumbs from the character, rather than a generic one. No one should say “as you know…”
- DETAIL: Backgrounds are very important. You need to establish a setting-your readers need to know where your characters are. More than that, the details in the background really add to creating a believable universe for the story. If it’s a kids bedroom, is it messy? What toys does he have. These things make the character will lay the ball and interesting by showing, (not telling) details about the characters.
- SHOW DON’T TELL: While we are on it, show don’t tell. The reason you are drawing a comic in the first place is so that you don’t have to rely on text to tell your readers that which you can establish more effectively through illustration. Often when I see the draft art with rough lettering I realise most of the dialogue can be cut. Rough lettering is a crucial process because you can really hone your story at this point.
- THUMBNAILS: We’re talking about roughs here… Drawing things in rough lets you avoid mistakes earlier on. It’s editing and lets you see if the comic will flow, if there is enough space for the balloons, if the character’s body language or position in the panel is right. When this is corrected before the pencil stage, you save a lot of time and money.
- PLOT: Plan out where the story is going. Some creators write and draw as they go along, but unless you are super talented, developing an outline will help you tell a better story.
- WEB-COMICS: When making a web-comic, think about how you structure the panels. Double page spreads naturally don’t work, but half page images in a two-tier format might be the best option.
Neil Gibson is a Speaker at WRITERS GAME NY this coming November. Neil is a Writer and Publisher at
@TPubComics. Creator of Twisted Dark, Tabatha, The World of Chub Chub, Tortured Life, Theatrics and many more!