How to write and draw comics! Writer/artist Palle Schmidt takes you through the basics of making comics, from story idea to finished pages. In this first of ten episodes, you will learn how to structure and plan ahead, so your story doesn’t end up in the ditch.
Transcript of episode
Hi and welcome to this web-based learning program about how to make comics.
You probably already know a little bit about it, since you found this page. Maybe you even know more than me! But I hope my little videos can be of inspiration and maybe make you see another perspective.
My first 48-page comic was published in Denmark in 1999. Since then I’ve been working full-time as a freelance writer, illustrator and comic book artist, and last year my graphic novel The Devil’s Concubine was released in the US from IDW Publishing. In my 13 or so years of experience, I’ve read tons of books on writing and making comics, but this video format is a really cool way for me to share some of my experiences in an easily accessible way with all the visual aids available. Now you can jump ahead, skip episodes or pause or re-watch all you want. While there are plenty of tutorials for artists to be found online, I’ve yet to see something that covers ALL the bases in making comics.
What’s so great about making comics is that you can tell any story, without spending a dime. You can have three-headed monsters, exploding spaceships or hordes of gun-toting elephants. Anything you want! As long as you can draw it. And if you can’t draw it right now, well I have a few tips for you. I’ll also be going over how to write and plan your story, so you don’t end up in the ditch like so many other aspiring comic book artists.
I’m constantly learning new things myself and I try to share what I learn as much as possible, both here and on my personal web-page. I’ll also be available for questions or comments to these videos, so be sure to check the comments below for more tips.
In this first episode we are going to be talking about getting started on your story. In other episodes we’ll be going over script formats, laying out your page
By the end of this program, you will be ready and able to make your own comics, online or in print.
I’ll try to be as practical as possible. I’m not here to tell you how YOU should make comics. I’ll just tell how I go about it, see if you can’t pick up a trick or two, huh? So let’s get started!
TITLE: Episode 1: FIRST THINGS FIRST
A lot of cartoonists start with a blank page and a vague idea of what they want to do.
I DON’T recommend that! What usually happens is, you’re all fired up when you draw the first frame or two, then the story gets stuck or your interest dwindles. Usually when you get to something that’s hard to draw.
Now, while there ARE creators out there, who do great work without so much as a written outline, I will always, always work out a script before getting on with the drawing. This doesn’t have to be a full script with each picture described. Especially if you’re going to be drawing it yourself. I use the format from movie scripts. You can find loads of scripts online or buy them in books. It’s a great way of learning how to write stories this way.
When you open up a new document on your computer or in your notebook, you sort of have the same problem as I talked about earlier; the blank page. A blank page is never a good place to start.
When I start a new story, I usually have a bunch of ideas, characters or scenes in my head. It can be a location, it can be a piece of dialogue. So what I do, is I try to get some of that down on paper. Get a notebook for the project, and keep it with you at all times. Write down ideas, do little sketches, maybe put in a clipping or an image that inspires you.
This is one of my favorite parts of cooking up a story. Everything is possible, nothing is set in stone. After a while, you need to take a look at your list of ingredients, see what kind of dish you’re making. You’ll find that not all of it belongs in the pot.
You can make a little mind-map with notes, and see if you can’t make some more sense of it all. The great things about comics, is you can do basically whatever you want. It doesn’t cost a thing! Just hard work.
But you have to limit yourself in a way, or your story probably won’t make any sense.
One of the first things to decide, is genre. Is it a romance? A space opera? A detective story? Maybe there’s a particular film or book you can use as inspiration, to sort of set you off. Perhaps there’s a certain style, tone or plot structure you can borrow. Don’t worry about stealing, your story will be YOUR story. More about stealing in lesson 5.
OK, so now you know what KIND of story you want to make. The next thing is to decide WHO it’s about. Every story has a main character. Now, we go over character design in lesson 4, but that’s more about the visuals. Right now let’s focus on the story.
A story, ANY story, is about somebody who wants something, and is having trouble getting it. Stuff happens, things get in the way. So he has to work even HARDER to achieve his goal. Maybe he get’s what he wants. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he get’s what he want’s, but finds out it wasn’t what he wanted after all!
Here’s a little checklist of want you need, before you start working on the script.
1: A genre
2: A main character
3: A setting
4: A beginning
5: A middle
6: An end!
You don’t need to be absolutely sure about everything on this list, you can still change things around later. But having an idea about this helps tremendously.The great thing about working on the computer, is you can undo everything and move everything around in your document. That’s a lot harder to do, once you start drawing. So make sure you get the structure of you story right before you start drawing page 1!
Sometimes you need to get to know your characters a little better, before you start writing. We talk about character design in lesson 3. But right now, if you’re not turned off completely by the amount of work, it’s time to start writing your script. So; on to lesson 2!