Last night I had the pleasure of being on Drawing Borders, a comic book podcast. Seeing as we were all writers, the topics revolved around writing and the various things that come with that particular job. One of the hosts and I also may have eaten donuts, drank some whiskey, and put together a Lego Guardians of the Galaxy Milano space ship kit. We had so much fun we ended up recording for 3 hours, and my hosts had to split that up into two episodes.
Since that's a lot to listen to, I figured it might be best if I made a list of some of the topics we touched and the advice that was had.
1. Nobody Wants to Edit Your Crap
It's easy to get people to look at artwork, it's damn near impossible to get people to look at a script. The visual aspect of artwork just makes it easier to read and critique compared to a page with a bunch of words.
It doesn't help that everyone writes their comics scripts differently. You have the Alan Moore scripts where it can be just a page for one panel, and then on the opposite end of the spectrum you have those scripts where the page is barely a half a page and a handful of vague descriptions. Everyone's system is different, and anytime someone else reads another person's script it's a unique experience in and of itself.
So what do you do? You self-edit. I like a printed copy of my script and a big red pen. And if things get bad, you start bribing people to read and review your pieces. Coffee works for just a few pages and dinner works for big scripts.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy Is an Excellent Character Driven Story:
HOLY CRAP. Remember that scene where [SPOILERS REDACTED]. It was such an excellent example of [No seriously we spoil a lot of the movie].
3. Show, Don't Tell: I freaking love dialog, I can write it all day long. You know what I also love? Long silent panels with no dialog. It's a fun challenge for me, and with the right artist it's gorgeous storytelling. Just the characters emoting through the art.
It's so easy to get wrapped up your writing and over-direct/over-write to your artist. Some artists like a lot of direction, but as a rule of thumb you need to keep it basic and direct. The same goes for your narration and dialog. Let the art tell the story instead of the text telling you what's going on. Less is more in some cases, guys.
4. Social Media Is an Important Tool/Distraction:
Social media can be the ultimate time suck, but it's also the best way I've found to connect with other creators at cons. We can do the business card exchange, but there's a chance I might lose your business card. You know what I won't lose? Your twitter handle when I follow it. It's gotten to the point where I keep con-based friendships alive online and when I see someone in person, even if it's someone I haven't seen in years, I can pick up where we left off because we still keep up on Twitter.
Twitter can be challenging, but you can make is easier if you pre-program tweets and do some legwork like finding out popular hashtags you can use. For artists I've seen a lot of payoff with the Tumblr/Twitter combo. It's harder for script monkeys, but it's doable.
5. Working with People Can Be Frustrating (but Rewarding):
We touch base on this more than once, but in the end of the podcast Matt asks me about a particular incident where a large amount of work was abandoned despite a lot of people coming together on a project. But it happens! And it sucks! And in the end you have to move on, it's the nature of the beast.
It's particularly true when you're just starting out and you're working with people who are also just starting out may not necessarily want to do comics in a few years. When you find someone who will stick it out with you in the end, that's great. In the beginning though, those people can be hard to find. It's immensely rewarding when you do find them though.
That's just a fraction of what we talked about. The entire podcast is available on the Drawing Borders website, with Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Apologies if I sound a little nervous, that's just because I am.