Below the fold, I have uploaded Rebecca’s pencils for the five sample pages I’ll be submitting with my comic book script. I really like how they’ve turned out! What do you think? (If you’d like to see the script for these pages, please see this comment).
I sent out my script to Rebecca for thumbnails tonight. I’ll submit as soon as the five sample pages are fully inked, colored and lettered (preferably within 2-4 weeks). Below, I’ve included the script for the five pages, 27-31.
I decided to swap out the US flag for a background more recognizable as a writer’s background. Also, I swapped out the red-to-blue title gradient for just blue. I think it’s easier to read. What do you think?
I think that Lash (the black guy) sticks out much more smoothly than he did before. And the new SUPERHERO NATION title text is significantly cleaner and easier to read. (My grasp of Photoshop has gotten a bit better; can you see that the new version’s title text is a bit more three-dimensional than the original version?) However, I think that Gary (the white guy) sticks out less. Aside from that, I think that the new background is an improvement because it indicates this is a writing website more effectively than the US flag did.
After you’ve written the script for a comic book page, I would recommend doing a rough sketch of the page before you give the script to your artist for pencils. That will help you identify staging problems early. Here are a few examples.
1. Will the panels have enough space to comfortably fit the content? As a rule of thumb, I think it’s especially important to check this if if the page has 7+ low-action panels or 4+ action panels. (Low-action panels, like most dialogue, usually require less space because they don’t need to show as many things happening. For example, a dialogue panel might just have a person’s head, whereas an action shot of two boxers going at it will probably include at least the upper bodies of two men).
2. Will the panel’s perspective portray everything you want to show? For example, if two characters are facing each other, it can be quite tricky to show their expressions, particularly if you’re trying to focus on one. 90 degree side-shots get boring fast and have trouble emphasizing either subject.
I’m a few days away from completing my first issue’s script and I’m gearing up to complete the art sample for publishers. This is the sort of style I’m going for– realistic with mild stylization. Phoenix Wright is another example of that.
Unfortunately, the artist that did the coloring here (Rebecca) isn’t actually available to color the comic because it would take too much time and she’s already doing the comic’s inks. So, barring some significant advancements in the field of cloning, I need to take on a colorer. I posted on a few boards have gotten about 60 responses.
In particular, I’m looking for…
Quality– is the portfolio consistently clean and competent?
Non-creepiness–the publisher may invite my colorer to promotional events, so I need someone that will reflect well on us. Relatedly, here’s a professional tip to the two artists that included Sonic fan-art in their portfolios: Don’t.
I narrowed it down to seven applicants so far. Here’s a sample work from each. What do you think?
In most cases, a comic book writer will have the text describe what is visually shown in the panels. For example, if two characters are speaking, usually the panel will show the characters as they speak. But there are some great reasons you might want to consider using removed narration, where the speakers are out of the panel.
For example, Gotham Central includes a scene where an officer is describing a raid to Internal Affairs off-panel. On-panel, we see the raid happen in a totally different way. That’s effective storytelling because (short-answer) it shows us that the cop is lying about what happened. If we only saw the cop as he talked, it wouldn’t be as clear or as striking as seeing the truth.
Here are some reasons you might want to consider removed narration.
Many first-time comic book writers mistakenly think that it’s okay to give their character bland costumes and let other factors make up for it. While other aspects contribute to the overall success of a superhero, the costume is critical because it’s the first thing a reader sees. Don’t blow your only chance at a first impression by making your hero look like a bum. Here are some tips to design effective and stylish costumes.
1. Keep it functional. When a costume doesn’t feel practical, it will probably make the character seem less realistic and/or competent. For example, if your hero wears a large cape, it’d be hard to believe that he never gets caught on anything. And if it doesn’t, the character may come off as a Mary Sue.
2. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity flow when designing a costume. If you have a idea for something that could be interesting try to work it into the costume without compromising functionality. Personally, I prefer to start with an outrageous costume then take away until I find balance. Play with colors, patterns, styles, layers, and accessories until you find the perfect costume exhibiting style and functionality, but…
Randy Stradley, one of Dark Horse’s editors, has some portfolio review tips here.
I’d like to add a few of my own.
1. Include a good mix of regular people, cities, cars, and trees/plants/landscapes. Many artists focus on closeups of superheroes and, frankly, that’s only one part of the art that goes into a superhero comic book.
2. Show that you have a well-rounded grasp of human anatomy. In particular, a lot of artists have trouble with legs and feet. If an artist’s portfolio didn’t include any shots that showed at least a bit of human anatomy from the waist down, I’d assume that the artist wasn’t ready yet. Backshots are also sometimes a problem.
In visual media, motion usually makes a scene more interesting. It’s particularly important in a cover because you have to catch the reader’s eye.
For example, let’s say we have two covers that use the world as a soccer ball. (The issue’s title is Americans Don’t Play Soccer, and the issue is about Darfurian genocide and other things very far removed from the typical American’s life. For ideological balance, we might add a thinly veiled Obama vis-a-vis the Iranian democracy movement).
Cover #1: On a soccer field, the villain is standing next to a globe. In the background, the hero is the only thing between him and the net. The villain’s pose would probably look lifeless, like these.
Cover #2: On a soccer field, the villain is doing an insane flip as he punts the world at the hero. The cover would probably look a lot more energetic and stylish. This is particularly important because the cover will probably show the villain from the back. It’s quite hard to strike an immobile pose from behind.
It would probably also help if the hero/goalie had some action. Bracing himself for impact is a little bit banal, so I’d like something that’s striking and makes it clear that this comic isn’t really about soccer. So let’s say the hero is bracing himself behind a transparent SWAT shield.
(Picture taken courtesy of The Baltimore Sun; you can read their review here).
This novel has been published by Harper-Collins, so I’m sort of surprised by how unappealing the cover is. It looks like it’s been slapped together for a self-published novel. There’s a typo on the cover. (“a terrific send-up not only superheroes in general” is missing the word “of”).
What do you think? What worked and what didn’t? What would you have changed?
UPDATE: The author of this book has contacted us, saying that the cover is an “uncorrected draft.” Erm, the book has been out for two months. Isn’t it well past time to correct it? Moreover, what were the circumstances that led a publisher to rush out a book that didn’t have a good cover ready?
I’m planning for the contingency that someone beats me in our proofreading contest next month. So I need to design the t-shirt that I might give out. My original plan was to just give out a generic Superhero Nation t-shirt, but I’d like to design a separate “I Beat B. Mac” t-shirt.
On the front, I think it will have something like a Che Guevara-esque drawing of me with the caption “I Beat a Professional Proofreader And and All I Got was This Lousy T-Shirt.” That’s kind of cliche, so hopefully one of you can suggest something more stylish.
There will be text on the back. For example, something like “What are you waiting for? Beat B. Mac and win this shirt on SUPERHERONATION.COM”
I’m very fond of Spiderman Loves Mary Jane, particularly the way it ends its issues. The last page of each issue wraps up the plot of that issue and foreshadows the next issue. The cliffhangers are usually pretty strong and make the reader want to keep going. For example, check out these sample concluding pages.
Email: “One of my protagonists is a detective looking for superheroes/vigilantes. What sort of traits might tip him off? Here are some trends that come to mind for American superheroes. Strong Associations They’ve had a loved one(s) murdered by a stranger. That’s pretty rare in the United States. Only about 2,500 U.S. murders are […]
Modern superheroines are easily the most abused type of character in any story. And while you’re likely aware that most of them are simply there to be cardboard love interests (all ravishingly beautiful, of course . . .), today I’m not going down that path. Instead, today we’ll discuss superheroine clothing (or the lack […]
Prisoners was highly entertaining and I think the writers did a good particularly good job portraying the families going through the kidnapping of their daughters. However, basically everything the police did in the movie was exceptionally Hollywood, so much so that it nearly turned the movie into an idiot plot. If you’re the sort of […]
The rivalries between superheroes and supervillains represents the battle between good and evil as a whole. It could be said that, without villains, there would be no heroes. Supervillains provide the opportunity for comic book characters with superpowers to become superheroes, as opposed to just regular everyday super people. But would supervillains even […]
Tony Stark has a drinking problem. And a broken heart. Peter Parker is a nerd. Superman has daddy issues. And Bruce Wayne? Where do you start? These are our heroes. And we learn about their addictions and predilections, their agendas and vendettas over the course of hundreds of issues, creating a tableau of identity […]
Sidekicked is a superhero novel about a sidekick who’s got just enough superpowers to get everybody killed and the various forces trying to screw him (e.g. a possibly nefarious superhero/spymaster, a squad of supervillains hell-bent on revenge, and whoever named him “The Sensationalist”). Here’s what writers can learn from it and how it could improve your [. […]