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writing for comics?

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Does anybody know anything about writing for a comic strip? I want to learn but I don''t know where to start. On a related note, there''s a great online comic, college roomies from hell, here: crfh.net

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I'd be surprised if there were any sort of resources on that on the Web.
I read this fabulous books years ago on making comics, and I must say that the story writing part didnt really leave anything special in my head.

The most obvious aspect of story writing for a comic is the almost total absence of descriptive text.
Also the focus is mainly on dialogs.
Hance you could check out anything about screen writing. I remember there is a site on writing at about.com and I read some interesting stuff on screen writing there. Though I don't remember any material directly relevant to ytour question. But I'd start looking there anyway

youpla :-p

PS : on a not directly related note, I'd recommend warmly www.gamespy.com for their different comics (and their comic links) ! They are absolutely hilarious (if you like RPG, that is)

Edited by - ahw on January 30, 2001 6:09:50 AM

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ooh, ooh!

Understanding Comics by Scott Mccloud-



''nuff said.

The sequel- Reinventing Comics is also worth a look, even just for the final two chapters on Digital Comics, though its hardly as eye-opening as the first.

Hope that helps.

If you see the Buddha on the road, Kill Him. -apocryphal

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It''s funny that someone should mention something like that on this forum. But anyways, I can''t claim to know everything about writing comic strips, but I use to draw a weekly comic strip for about a year or so. I quit since then, but I think the site''s still up at:


If you liked the writing that you read, then I can tell you what I went through with the writing part.

At first, I didn''t really know what write about either, and I looked for some material giving some advice. I eventually came upon books written by well known artists such as Bill Watterson(Calvin & Hobbes), Lynn Johnson(For better or for worse), Gary Larson (Far side), Scott Adams(Dilbert), where after about a decade of work, they decide to recap how their work evolved, how they started, behind the scenes of the developement of the characters, etc, etc. And often they''ll talk about the question they get asked the most: "Where do you get your ideas?"

In Bill Watterson''s "Calvin & Hobbes, 10th anniversary book" He said that he did them in a batch, like a months'' worth. He''ll sit outside and just write ideas down on paper, or sketch a rough outline. And then after he''s got a month''s and a half''s worth of work, he''ll go back and flesh it out, discarding a few of them.

Lynn Johnson says she likes to sit in her sunroom(I think), and just lets her mind wander. She''ll take different seemingly unrelated things, and put them together. The example she gave was "bananas" and "typewriter", and eventually, she could see April(a child character) mashing bananas in the typewriting, so there was a strip.

The two guys that do "Baby Blues" both have young children, so they get quite a bit of material from that.

And then there are strips like "Garfield" where I don''t think Jim Davis even draws it anymore. He hires people to draw and ink for him, and then (it seems) he just rehashes jokes. The old Garfield may have been uglier, but it was funnier, imo.

Another thing or two I picked up was that you have to get to know your characters. Sometimes, things just write themselves if you really know your characters. You put them in some situation and let it play out in your head, not how you want to play it out, but how the characters want to play it out. It seems odd to say that, since the characters are in your head, but take my word for it, once you identify your character as someone else, sometimes their reactions will surprise you.

I personally just had a small notepad wherever I went, and just wrote down random things I thought would be good ideas for strips. Sometimes, they were just one sentence othertimes a paragraph. I rarely sketch it out. I only have the words there on paper as a cue to jogging my memory as to what I was thinking about.

For example, for Nick the Duck, I still have leftover notes:
- guys don''t like pictures of themselves in pictures of their g/f
- the art of making things look worn
- "The first draft is the best draft"
and so on and so forth.

When I had time, like during lunch or in the shower, I''d flesh out an idea I particularly liked. Fleshing out would be deciding on the outcome of the strip, the punchline, 3 or 4 frames(or some other layout?), laying out how each frame would look in my head, the general facial expressions to be made in context of the punchline, how the wording can be more concise, how the wording can be better changed to convey meaning, their evironment, setting, etc. Sounds like too much, but really, you just automatically take it into account. Oh yes, and comic timing...something you learn when you draw enough strips...I can''t explaing it. Things like camera angle, placing of text, word bubbles, etc, that comes when you actually sketch it out.

Then when I finally sit down to draw it, it''s not all that funny anymore, since I turned it over again and again in my head.

As to what to write about, or where to get ideas from, I think it''s as Watterson said...you have to be mentally playful. Start noticing things in life, start noticing the weirdness in the ordinary around you.

Go read the Calvin & Hobbes 10th anniversary book, it should help, since sometimes he explains what he was thinking when he drew the strip. Hope that helped...


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