Archive for January, 2009

Jan 05 2009

What are some common mistakes of comic book and graphic novel teams?

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

We’re compiling a list of common mistakes of first-time comic book teams. I’ve got 40 so far, but I’d love to know what you would come up with.

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32 responses so far

Jan 03 2009

Changes to Dark Horse’s Submissions Policy?

Only a few weeks ago, Dark Horse required writers to have artists on-board before their stories could be considered.  However, according to Dark Horse’s Submissions page, it seems like Dark Horse has nixed that requirement.  In the miscellaneous notes, it says that “If a submitted project has an artist collaborator, samples of the artist’s continuity work must be included.”  That suggests that DH will consider submitted projects that don’t yet have an artist.  That should make it much cheaper for writers to prepare a script for DH.

However, if you’re applying to DH, I would really recommend getting an artist anyway even though it’s not required. Preparing a sample of 5 pages and a cover will probably set you back $400-500 (colored) or maybe $250-350 (inked). That’s a major investment.  However, if you’re serious about your application, having art accompany your writing could really help you.  Providing pages that have been inked (preferably colored) will make it very easy for the editors to decide if you’re worth hiring.  If all you have is your script, it won’t be nearly as clear whether your team has the style and skill to convey the story on the page. Remember, businesses hate risks. When they put money down, they want to know they’re getting quality.

8 responses so far

Jan 02 2009

New Year’s Resolutions: 2009

  1. Expand this site to 500,000 hits and 1.5 million page-views. That would be about 1500 and 4500 of each a day, growth of roughly 400%.
  2. Get a comic book series published. I need to receive my first paycheck before graduation in May.
  3. Finish writing a nonfiction book about how to write superhero stories and get them published.  I expect to have completed this before graduation because I’ve already done so many articles for this website.  So the content is mostly finished.  Now the main task is adapting the chapters for a younger and more superhero-interested audience.
  4. Chip away at the novel.
  5. Get a fulltime job. Ideally, I’m thinking I’d work there for a year or two before moving on to grad school.

30 responses so far

Jan 01 2009

Some of the Differences Between Writing Comic Books and Novels

  1. Novels are overwhelmingly word-driven.  In contrast, the primary tool of a comic book writer is visual imagery.  Words are a secondary tool to express what can’t be shown visually.  Comic book readers are annoyed by long blocks of text.  As a rule, I’d recommend limiting a page to 175 words of text for an adult audience.
  2. Novels will usually describe the settings and what’s going on in the background at some length.  In comic books, those worldbuilding details are almost purely visual.
  3. Every novel relies on a narrator.  In contrast, virtually every comic book avoids narration and instead tells the story with a combination of action, visual scenery, and dialogue (in roughly that order).   A comic book narrator may offer us little snippets of information like “FIVE MINUTES LATER…” but it’s not very interesting or smooth for him to drop paragraphs of information on us.
  4. Novels are much longer (60,000-80,000 words vs. 2500-5000 and ~300 pages vs. ~24).  As a result, novels tend to focus more on dialogue and low-intensity scenes than action sequences, particularly combat.  A 24 page comic book might spend 10 pages on 2 fights, but a 300 page novel probably wouldn’t come close to 120 pages of fighting or 25 fights.   Having that many fights would get tedious.  Also, novel fight scenes tend to suck.  If readers wanted to see a rolling fight scene, they would go for a comic book or, more likely, an action movie.
  5. Novel readers (particularly adults) tend to expect deeper characterization, fresher characters and more interesting relationships.  Character growth is far more important in a novel than a comic book.  If the main character has not changed or grown in some way over the course of the novel, readers are likely to feel dissatisfied.  In contrast, a character like Superman tends to change very little over the course of a comic book series.

One response so far

Jan 01 2009

User Guidelines

My goal is to provide high-quality writing advice for adults and young adults.  Here are a few ground rules.


1.  No R-rated sexual content.

Anything more sexually graphic or creepier than a James Bond movie is probably not a great fit for this website–for one thing, about half of our readers are younger than 18 and many of the rest are teachers.


2. No gratuitous self-promotion.

I’d love to see your website, but contribute something first.  For example, if you’d like to link to your site, connect it in some way to previous comments or the article itself.  If you’d like to market yourself without contributing something, please go somewhere else, okay?


3. Don’t give too much information.

In particular, please don’t ever post your phone number or address on an open forum, especially if you’re younger than 18.  It is not the best way to convince a professional to reach you.  Personally, when I see someone post a business proposal with a phone number in an open forum, I’m more likely to think “Good God, what’s he thinking?” than “Wow, he’s really making himself accessible!”


4. No fan-fiction. 

Is your main goal as a writer to have a good time?  If so, serious reviews listing 25+ possible revisions for a chapter would probably be more emotionally overwhelming than fun.  If not, I think you’d give yourself a better chance to develop writing skills by building your own stories/premises/characters/settings from scratch rather than starting with a story somebody else has already written.  For fan-fiction reviews, I’d recommend instead.  Yes, the reviews will generally be as useless as “this’s really good!!!” or “this sux!!!” , but that’d only be a problem if you wanted to become a professional author.


5. Be friendly and professional.

A professional demeanor and friendly attitude are extremely helpful. Probably more than raw talent, actually.



84 responses so far

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