Creating Comics 101

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Throughout time comic books have been known as a form of entertainment. Funny books some may call them in the past. People all over the world, adults, teenagers, and children would get lost in dream worlds of magic and wonder once they opened that book. Whether it be superhero stories or tales of the undead there is something for everyone. What some may not though, the process of creating a comic book is no picnic. In fact, it’s a very long process. Not just for the creating book itself but to be published and to make a career out of it. Here, we will go over the process and what it really takes to make it in the comic book world.

There are plenty of successful creators out there who had written, edited, illustrated, penciled, inked, lettered, colored, and published comics. It is all these things that are involved in a single creation. It is time-consuming and takes a lot of effort. This side of the comic book world is the side that people usually don’t recognize or even take consideration that these things exist. They recognize the comic conventions, cosplayers and the comic book itself. By looking at a page the average person can look at it but not realizing that someone different from the writer did this artwork and someone else did the lettering on the page to give it some personality. Stan Lee, for example, created and wrote Spider-Man but he didn’t do the art it was Steve Ditco who did the illustrations for Spiderman. The two of them delivered about 38 comics between the years of 1963 to 1966. This is called collaboration: the action of working with someone to produce or create something.

When you think of a comic book what comes to mind? Just a book with some artwork? Yeah, but that’s just the bare minimum of it. There needs to be a story, for a story, you’ll need a writer. Say, you’re a writer and this is something that you want to do first things first what are you going to write about? You need something that is going to be unique and yet catches the reader’s attention. Once you figured that out now comes to writing the piece as a script. Comic book scripts are similar as those of screenplays. In screenwriting when you start the script you need to point out whether the scene will take place indoors or outdoor, by doing so you would use “EXT” or “INT” In the realm of comic book writing you want to state the visual. One thing that writing for comic books is that you need to be descriptive. As a comic book writer, you have to layout the page and set it up for the artist. In a way it’s kind of like guidelines telling the illustrator or artist, I should say, how the writer wants the scene or characters interpreted. In the DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O’NEIL, he expresses the importance of the layout of the page and the relationship between the writer and artist. He also discusses in his guide, story structure, characterization, and script preparation. He provides great advice for beginners on getting into comics. These things are of big importance in the creation of the comic book.

Once the writer writes the script edits usually has been made. Sometimes there, isnt editor, the writer would have to have done the edits. Once that is complete that’s when the art is done. Sometimes you can find an artist who does it all, a Jack-of-all-trades. One who would do pencils, inks, and color in these cases the process becomes a bit easier. When pages are all completed with scenes done and such the story needs to be added. With captions and dialog to do this process the creative source is a Letterer, they exist. If it wasn’t for the letterers’ the comic book wouldn’t have that “POW” or “SWOOSH” little addons that transform comic books to what they truly are. Let’s say now your book is fully complete, most comics consists of twenty-four pages unless it’s a graphic novel then much more. So, your twenty-four pages are good, and you have this finished book. There are two things you can do, one, find a publisher, two, self-publish. The choice is yours.

There are plenty of publishing companies. Big names such as Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Darkhorse, Vertigo, and Image. These are the big boys. Plenty of publishing companies require specific guidelines for submissions. Some companies you can send a piece of your art as samples of your work and some would even accept written submissions. It is a rare thing though; larger named companies usually want complete work. Independent companies are a little leaner with submissions. Some publishing companies require a fee. Let’s say you go toward the self-publishing route there are different websites you can go through to of whatever fits your needs.

The comic book creating doesn’t stop there, this is just the start. You need your audience. Who is going to read this book? Who is going to enjoy and appreciate the little thing you and your fellow team worked endless hours creating? That’s where the comic conventions come in. Comic conventions are a great place to sell your work. Although, in order to do so one must need to purchase a vendors or artist table to reserve yourself a spot. Here is where you talk to other creators promote your merchandise. After all, even in this industry its all business. If this is something you want to do and to be successful in there are plenty pros to this but like everything with the pros come the cons.

In the beginning of this I stated that a writer will collaborate with an artist and so on. People don’t work free for the most part. Artists are trying to make a living as well as the writer, inker, editor, letterer and the publishing company. These creators need to purchase materials and plenty of coffee and tea to get through the exhausting process. If you’re in this together you help one another for like I said it’s a business. Megan Leonhardt’s How Much You Can Earn in the Comic Book Industry-From Artist to CEO, she mentions how this industry (DC and Marvel) makes $800 million a year annually as well employs tens of thousands of creators.

There are jobs out there because print is well enough alive. Some would say that this is a dead industry and there is no money to be made but there is. In order to make money you would have to spend money, but if this is your passion then why not go all out?! With social media now, creators can show off their work from across the world. There is now the option to create with other from miles and miles away. Which, if this is something you or anyone is interested in taking a first step into the industry these are things you would want to know.

In conclusion and most importantly, this line of work comes with comradery. When you form a team of other creators there is this bond you have. There is this baby known as your comic book and it took hard work, dedication, determination, love and sweat. Being a creative takes a lot of work if you’re into it you can have created the next Spiderman or Batman. Everyone can make a comic book it’s the drive that will push you to do it. Get up and grab a pen. Find a comfortable place and brainstorm. Brainstorm until you find that idea. Creation with everything in life starts one way only, by idea. So, write, illustrate, create and make comics. Keep the comic book process alive.


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