Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Comic Script Writing

When I'm feeling good about myself and conceited, I like to think of myself as a writer more than an artist. I really see myself, 10 years from now, if I'm still doing comics, writing, not drawing them. The short stuff I've written has generally gotten great feedback from other writers and creators and I enjoy writing much more than any other aspect of comics, except possibly inking. I would love to be a writer/inker, that would be the ideal situation for me. From observations I have made, there are still 2 dominant forms of writing for the comic book medium.

FULL SCRIPT - A panel for panel breakdown of what is happening, what panel the dialog fits in and where everything goes, this usually leaves very little decision making up to the artist.

LOOSE SCRIPT - Usually all the
dialog is there but instead of panel descriptions, there are usually just page descriptions which let the artist choose how to tell the story and how to break down the panels.

I would like to say I have worked with both types, but in actuality I have not. All of my scripts from all of the writers I have worked with have been of the FULL SCRIPT type. Both have their positive and negative aspects to it, the FULL script ensures that the writer's vision comes through 100%, and that they know what to expect on the page when they see it, there is little doubt of what will come across and it makes for an easy collaboration. I should also say, that the FULL SCRIPT method is used very much in work for hire situations, where the artist (and often the writer) are just hired hands there to tell a story. While this script type is common, it does leave a little to be desired for the artist who generally would like to have a little more say in the graphic storytelling department, especially in a visual medium.

When I write for artists I almost always use the LOOSE SCRIPT format, unless it's such a short story, or I have such a crystallized idea in my mind that I need to be more direct. I love seeing a page come in on a project and not knowing what to expect, it is very creative and keeps the energy moving. This type of writing generally occurs in a book that is co-created between the writer and artist and each has a personal and often times emotional attachment to the book. On a book where I co-create, this would be the ideal type of script I would get.

Please note, I also take into account the writers I work with and I am comfortable enough with them to know that I can alter certain panels and pages to fit my storytelling approach, and with a little conversation, everything goes swimmingly, and also, many writers only feel comfortable in the FULL script mode, but are more than willing to listen to and agree to the artists input. With VILLAINS for instance, the only long form work I have done up until now, I read all the scripts and suggest changes that are sometimes, but not always taken into account, and only after both myself and the writer, Adam Cogan, agree 100% do I start on the artwork, and we have a great working dynamic where I feel in the art phase I can make whatever changes, though few they may be, to tell the story my way visually. An artist as well, Adam has a very visual approach to his writing which makes it easy.

This whole post was spawned by this great link I came across that points to published comic scripts on the internet. Download the 2 scripts by Brian Wood, the DEMO script, an indie book he co-created with the amazing Becky Cloonan, he wrote in the loose script format, and then the DMZ script, for Vertigo/DC, he wrote in the more common Full script mode.

* On a personal note, I was introduced to Brian by a retailer friend of mine in San Diego this summer, and I was too insecure to even offer polite conversation or praise. I just acted like I was part of the conversation and then skulked away. A couple years back Adam and I entertained the idea of getting Brian to design the cover layout for VILLAINS, but we could not afford him at that point, and I think he was starting to lean away from design also.


rory said...

Nice post Ryan. I have tried a few times to put some thoughts down on my own blog and usually end up scrapping the whole thing for one reason or another, usually I fail in wording things well and it comes across wrong.

I also like the personal note, I doubt anyone has NOT experienced that awkward "outside looking in" situation, especially at cons where everyone is trying to get noticed for future work and trying to make contacts without coming across as a networking's a tough line to walk!

Benjamin Hall said...

I prefer the full script and a flexible writer.

Most of my changes are normally with an eye towards word balloons reading order and not confusing the reader my moving the "camera" all over the place.