When your team is putting together the comic book, you need to identify potential problems as soon as possible. If you decide that there’s a problem with the outlines but you’ve already gone to coloring, you’ll have to throw out some coloring work and probably some inking. Here are some problems that you need to spot early.
1. Check for continuity. Are the dimensions of the room consistent? Are the characters consistently portrayed? Are the characters as tall and wide as they’re supposed to be? Also, in the toning and coloring stages, please make sure that the lighting sources are consistent.
2. Character placement. Does the placement of the characters make sense? For example, if two characters are walking somewhere but only one of them knows the way, he should probably be in front. Does each character have enough space to perform his later actions? For example, we once had to redo a page because we were boxed in by the walls–it was impossible to have a superhero drop behind a character that was leaning against a wall.
3. Are the character expressions consistent with their lines of dialogue? One particularly tricky area here is when the character’s emotions change dramatically mid-panel. If your script goes something like this, you’re screwed.
WIFE, annoyed: Your boss kept you late tonight. What gives?
HUSBAND: I got a promotion!
WIFE, excited: Hooray!
Since it’d be very difficult to show the wife being annoyed and excited at the same time, this panel is pretty much doomed. This is a problem that you need to solve before the page goes to your artist. For example, you could break this into two panels so that she can emote her annoyance and excitement separately.
4. Is the amount of dialogue consistent with the panel’s pacing? For example, if you’re doing an action panel of someone leaping at an enemy, giving them 25+ words of dialogue will damage the pace. No one can plausibly say that many words in the span of a jump. Too many words will make the action feel slower and less exciting than it should be. As a rule of thumb, the more intense and involved the action, the fewer words you should use.
5. If something changes, like a character drawing out a prop or something, is it clear where the change came from? For example, if John is unarmed in panel 1 and wielding a gun in the next, readers might wonder where the gun came from. You could solve that by adding an intermediate panel of him reaching for the gun, or by using motion lines to show that his hand is moving from where his gun used to be. Alternately, just show time passing or the scene changing. For example, if panel 1 shows us a police officer driving with his gun holstered, it’ll make sense if his gun is drawn when he gets out to storm a building in panel 2. We didn’t see him draw the gun, but the situation has changed–now he’s in a much more dangerous situation.
6. If a character has a prop or accessory, does it appear consistently? It’s really easy to lose track of what each character is holding. Be careful.
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