Dec 07 2008

How to Storyboard a Comic Book

I found this article on storyboarding comic books very useful.

UPDATE: This article describes some of the terminology in laying out comic book pages.

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “How to Storyboard a Comic Book”

  1. Ragged Boyon 07 Dec 2008 at 3:37 pm

    That was helpful, I’ve got some ideas flowing now.

    Obrigado!!

  2. Ragged Boyon 11 Dec 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Wait! if your description of a storyboard is right, isn’t it the same as the script? Or does a storyboard only work with pictures instead of pictures and dialogue like a script?

  3. B. Macon 11 Dec 2008 at 7:40 pm

    I think the main difference is that a script is purely done in words and a storyboard will use rough sketches. The storyboard is the halfway-point between the script and the finished comic book.

  4. Ragged Boyon 11 Dec 2008 at 7:52 pm

    I’ll probably include some sketches of how I want certain things to look like aliens, exosuits, and technology.

    Is that against the rules?

  5. B. Macon 11 Dec 2008 at 8:30 pm

    The main goal of the query is to show that you and your team can tell a compelling story visually. So
    I wouldn’t recommend including sketches about how you think the aliens and technology will look. Instead of that, I’d really recommend including a well-executed sequence of pages. You can incorporate the aliens and technology into the sequence. For example, if page 1 is the aliens looking on Earth, the publisher can see something about how the aliens tie into what you’re trying to do. The best case scenario is that the publisher sees the first five pages and thinks something like “this is kickass… this clicks… this guy really gets it.”

    In contrast, if you only showed what the aliens and their tech looked like, the best you could do would be to make the publisher think “OK, this guy has some style, but I have no idea how he’s going to use it. Where’s the story?”

    What do you think?

  6. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 4:28 pm

    That makes sense. I think before I start my story, like before the credits, I will include a very short intro of some well shadowed aliens looking down on Earth. Maybe a few lines of dialogue before heading down to Adrian at school.

  7. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Writing a comic script is starting to get easier for me, I just wish I had a site like this to help me with the technicalities. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not undermining your ability, you guys are amazingly talented, but were both pretty new in this field. I may be wrong, though.

    I’m just never really sure if I’m being overly descriptive or not descriptive enough. I’m also not sure whether dialogue writing rules are the same for comics. I think so but I’m not sure.

    Know any sites that specialize in comic book writing?

  8. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Reposter.

  9. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve noticed that alot of comic scripts deviate from the Dark Horse standard a little. In that they don’t directly display the number of panels per page. I’ve notice alot just go on and say “Page One” and the go on to “Panel One” and so on.

    I don’t think it makes much a difference, but I find that easier. After I’m done with a page, I go back then post the number of panels.

    So how is your script going? Or are you to caught up in school to work on it, like me?

  10. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 6:15 pm

    I really like that a comic script doesn’t have to bee as long as a book. I’m not a big fan of typing.

    Here’s my plan: The first issue has two major parts, thusly, they will be part one and two.

    Part One- Establishing Adrian, the aliens, and the tournament/search, by the end of this Adrian will be shortly into the contest and have his suit and tech. I’ll probably have a short battle encounter with the first villians, killer competitors, one competitor in particular.

    Part Two- The contest is well underway, it will probably remain the top three, including Adrian, plus Jimelly, until the next issue. Adrian and the gang will go to Jimelly’s home planet to get their alien DNA upgrade, this will also serve as a short fact-dump on Jimelly’s alien race. When they return to Earth, the killer competitior will be back for the final showdown.

    By the end of part two, and the issue, the major evil will be introduced. Adrian will have powers (but is still on training wheels), he will also become the Aquarian, and the killer competitor will be defeated, although he may come back later as a recurring villian.

    Is this too much for the first issue? I don’t think so, but if so, there are parts I can cut.

  11. B. Macon 15 Dec 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Speaking of storyboards, here’s ours for page 2. (On page 1, we show that Gary is on a list of assassination targets, and that Gary is late for work).
    comic book storyboard

    What do you think?

  12. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I think the first panel could use a small change, like Gary bursting out of his building door, as opposed to just running down the street, unless his building is far away.

    Other than that it’s good and funny.

  13. B. Macon 15 Dec 2008 at 7:46 pm

    Yeah, we show him standing in the doorway on page 1.

  14. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Oh, well that solves that.

    What do you think about this?

    Here’s my plan: The first issue has two major parts, thusly, they will be part one and two.

    Part One- Establishing Adrian, the aliens, and the tournament/search, by the end of this Adrian will be shortly into the contest and have his suit and tech. I’ll probably have a short battle encounter with the first villain, killer competitors, one competitor in particular.

    Part Two- The contest is well underway, it will probably remain the top three, including Adrian, plus Jimelly, until the next issue. Adrian and the gang will go to Jimelly’s home planet to get their alien DNA upgrade, this will also serve as a short fact-dump on Jimelly’s alien race. When they return to Earth, the killer competitior will be back for the final showdown.

    By the end of part two, and the issue, the major evil will be introduced. Adrian will have powers (but is still on training wheels), he will also become the Aquarian, and the killer competitor will be defeated, although he may come back later as a recurring villian.

    Is this too much for the first issue? I don’t think so, but if so, there are parts I can cut.

  15. B. Macon 15 Dec 2008 at 8:25 pm

    I’m not sure I understand the distinction between a part and an issue. So parts 1 and 2 happen in the first issue? I suspect that parts 1 and 2 are each dense enough to handle an issue on their own. Typically a comic book issue will have 24 pages of story. I think it would be tricky to squeeze both of your parts into 24 pages.

    It might be easier for you to make each of your parts into an issue of its own. Then your issue #1 might look something like this.

    ISSUE #1:
    1 page introducing the aliens
    3-5 pages introducing Adrian at school, his friends, his clique, etc.
    –This would have to be stylish, I think. I’m envisioning your first action sequence comes almost half-way through the first issue, so you need to convince readers to stick with you.
    1 page that shows Adrian on the way to the principal’s office (and the alien in the window)
    2-4 pages of him talking with (confronting?) the principal.

    6-8 pages describing why he’s the hero of this story. Why do the aliens pick him instead of a random schmuck on the street?
    –Emphasize a key character trait or two, ideally in a way that makes him likable and relatable.
    –This should probably feature action. For example, Matt Murdoch (Daredevil) first gets his superpowers by tackling someone out of the way of an oncoming chemical truck. Static Shock has a gang brawl.
    –For Mary Sue reasons, the aliens should probably not pick him because of anything related to his acting prowess, although his acting may end up demonstrating a crucial virtue in the scene. (However, the virtue should be more important than the acting. In fact, I think it would be an interesting point of contention between him and the aliens if they were hard-core engineers that were stumped on the attraction of non-essential endeavors).

    That would leave us with about 8 pages for the rest of the first issue.
    –Maybe 3-4 pages to introduce the aliens and the contest, 3-4 pages to resolve the fight, and 1-2 pages of cliffhanger.

    What do you think?

  16. Ragged Boyon 15 Dec 2008 at 9:08 pm

    That works, see I didn’t know the average length of a comic, I own mostly graphic novels which are longer.

    How about for the action part he outmaneuvers and outruns a group of elite aliens with powers after taking their transmitter in curiosity, After he thoroughly duped his chasers one mistake gets him caught in the end. Jimelly personally stops the group from hurting Adrian. Admiring his youthful vigor and curiosity, Jimelly decides to recruit Adrian in his training.

    I’m going to save this outline it will serve as a good template.

  17. B. Macon 15 Dec 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Sounds good. As a minor tweak, I’d recommend making the aliens non-elite for now. Keeping the stakes low will give you room to ratchet up the tension later. (Also, if a random kid is able to outrun and outmaneuver a group of elite aliens, it will raise questions about how competent the aliens are).

    It may also help to tie the second act of the first issue (him stealing the transmitter) to something we see in the first act (him at school). If his most important trait here is curiosity, it would probably be useful to show him doing curious things in the first act, or tweaking his background to denote an inquisitive spirit. (For example, one cliche “curious” job would be working at the student newspaper).

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