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  1. #1
    Mild-Mannered Reporter
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    Default Shelf Life - Jan 10, 2013

    To kick off 2013, Ron Marz breaks down his process for plotting a story including handy rules that make for better collaborations with artists and better reading comics in the end.


    Full article here.

  2. #2
    Member Alex6166's Avatar
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    I've gotten sample stories from Marvel and Top Cow where everything is described in every panel on every page. It's so different from what I've heard about old school Marvel writing where I understand everything was a pretty loose description of what happens on a page, of perhaps even the book. Then they work out the dialogue later. It's a bit challenging for a guy trying to put together a good sample page for editors to look at.

    Also, apparently, Brian Michael Bendis (or his typist) can't spell 'Captian' America?

  3. #3
    Junior Member Etoma's Avatar
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    A very insightful and enjoyable read. Many thanks to Mr Marz.
    The bird of Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame
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  4. #4

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    Thanks for sharing this. A very insightful article.

    Now, when are we going to get that column about coming up with ideas? As you allude to, that's the "larger" half (incorrect math intended) of this battle.

  5. #5
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    Man, I love that Wally Wood 22 panels template! Thanks for that.

    I would like to add something, especially for new writers. Pen and paper should always be where it starts. The software programs Movie Magic ScreenWriter and Final Draft have excellent templates for comic book scripts. I recently changed from using Screenwriter to Final Draft for this because the FD templates automatically number your bubbles and captions and whatnot, allowing for easy tracking for yourself, the editor(s), and, most importunity, the letterer. Hell of a lot easier than going in and adding numbers and potentially messing up the count or formatting.

    You also get access to all sorts of nifty storytelling devices like Index Cards and other useful outline views.

    These programs are also extremely useful for import and export compatibility to other useful programs. I love the compartmentalized options that Scrivener has, and there are a variety of ways to transfer files between programs and retain your formatting, as well as compatibility with tablet writing software. Dropbox, baby.

    Hell, even screenwriting courses and expos now have courses that address the comic book factor. I work in the film/TV industry, and one of the adages nowadays is that it's easier to get your spec film script looked at if you make the comic book or graphic novel first. It's the ultimate pitch package. So familiarity with these kinds of programs can be beneficial in a variety of ways. I have been asked to adapt both ways--comics to script and vice versa.

    Gone are the days of presetting your tabs to format yourself. These templates WILL save you a lot of time. Of course, for some old pros that didn't have this available to them, they have perfected their method and it works for them. Just like how some writers will still use an Underwood over a computer.

    I also want to add that it's useful to download the variety of thumbnail templates that are available on the internet. You don't have to be an artist to sketch things out with stick figures to help you visualize the page. On more that one occasion I've had an artist stuck on a scene, and I would offer my thumbnails. I don't offer them initially (unless I have something very specific in mind) because I want the artist to be free to engage their own storytelling. I mainly use them when I'm having trouble with a page or just to make sure I'm not giving the artist too much stuff for one page.

    I'm not a paid shill, just a software whore. But anything that will save me more time to create and write is worth it, in my opinion. Hope I didn't hijack this article. Just wanted to add to the valuable advice.

    Thanks, Mr. Marz.

  6. #6
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    The problem with the screenwriting software is its export functions. When you're done writing, the most common export form is pdf, which sucks to work with down the chain. Your editor can't make notes in your script, and your letterer can't easily cut and paste text. FD will let you export your script in rtf, but that blows away all your formatting. If you spend a little time, you can do the exact same thing in Word by building a template, all you're missing is the cue cards.

  7. #7
    New Member donuil23's Avatar
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    A few guidelines for the letter script: no more than 30 words in a balloon or caption, usually no more than three or four balloons in a panel. If you need more than the usual room for dialogue, indicate that need in the initial script, so the artist can allow appropriate space. Don't cross balloon tails. A conversation within one panel can go from the first speaker, to another, and then back to the first. Much more back-and-forth than that can be difficult for both placement and space limitations.
    No one ever tells you that stuff!
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  8. #8
    Junior Member Terran's Avatar
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    After-images conveying a character's superhuman speed and agility are the exception to the "one action per panel" rule. Spider-Man and the Flash are known for this.

    The technique can be cool sometimes, but dependency on it becomes boring.

    Any thoughts, Mr. Marz? Sorry for resurrecting an old thread.
    Last edited by Terran; 02-19-2014 at 10:48 AM.

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