Writing for Comics 101 – Making Pages You Can Actually Read

In today’s lesson of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about making pages you can ACTUALLY read.

How do we do that? By not packing the pages with an obscene amount of dialogue.

Or at least, if you HAVE to keep so much dialogue, how to pace it out so it’s not a word brick.

This technique is something discussed in more detail in Making Comics by Scott McCloud, so what I’ll do for today’s post is share my mistakes so you can learn from them.

Let’s take a look at this page from Seeing Him, written by Kia Crawford and drawn by me:

seeing him transgender webcomic page 25

To be honest, there’s a way to get the information across that we need, without using a fuck-ton of dialogue.

We could:

  • split this between two pages,
  • condense the banter,
  • condense the backstory drop,
  • change the page layout,
  • change the balloon layout,
  • or any combination of these.

At least past me had the sense to split the dialogue into separate balloons. That way the page felt, at the time, a little less like a word brick.

This is me spit-balling some ideas right now on how to fix this page of Seeing Him: we could change the camera focus in the second and third panels, to cut away to framed photos on the walls. Those photos could showcase the history of the venue. With that edit, we can split the dialogue up some more, re-frame where the speech balloons sit, and make the page feel like less of a collection of talking heads.

Compare this page to The Legend of Jamie Roberts, page 65, written and drawn by me.

the legend of jamie roberts genderqueer lgbtq pirate adventure webcomic page 65

Here, I let the space breathe and tell the story for me, without so many words.

Whether you can draw or not, comics are a visual medium. Let the environment and scenery describe for you what words could not.

If you have questions, or need feedback, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

The Freelance Lifestyle – What Jobs to Pursue

Today for The Freelance Lifestyle, I’m going to give an honest take on what kinds of jobs you should pursue – especially if you’re freelancing for the first time.

For the first time freelancer, it can be tempting (or even encouraged) to take the first job that comes your way. For folks like me who have been freelancing for a few years, you get a better sense of what to say “yes” or “no” to.

I hope that in this blog post, you can learn from some mistakes I’ve made, so you can avoid really shifty, shady, or downright nasty clients.

Trust Your Gut.

Your logic brain will tell you to take any job you can get because “it’s money.”

But if there’s something about the potential client that makes you raise eyebrows, pay attention to that.

Pay attention to these signs if you’re unsure about a gig:

  1. Does the client use language that makes your spider sense tingle? For me, that looks like anyone who makes sexist jokes, or talks about Christian topics in really uncomfortable ways. My primary audience is the exact opposite of these people. So if a potential client is using language that my primary audience would NEVER use, I note that.
  2. Does the client use an obscene amount of emojis? I’m not knocking against emoji use. However, I’m encouraging you to spot any communication from your potential client that’s less than professional. Especially if you feel that it’s detrimental.
  3. Does this client have a digital presence that’s easy to find? Some clients will share their website or social media link with you. THIS IS GOOD. Some potential clients may not provide this information, even if you ask for it. THIS IS SHADY. Do your due diligence and go to Google. Cross-check them. If the search results come up with something weird or unsavory, voice that concern.
  4. Does this client balk at the idea of signing a contract YOU wrote? If you don’t know how to write a contract that protects you and a client, I wrote a post a long while ago about how to do it. There’s also some good templates through the Artist and Graphic Designer’s Market.

If you wrote a contract, and the potential client doesn’t want to sign it or even READ it, make note of that. A good client will ask clarifying questions before signing anything.

If I missed something, or if you still have questions, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

May’s Massive Moving Sale

may's massive moving sale on kelci d crawford's storenvy store

I had the idea to post this in the Adventures in Moving slot on Tuesday – but I want to make this announcement SOONER. The announcement being: I’m running a MASSIVE Moving Sale for the month of May.

If you’ve been reading Adventures in Moving, you know by now that I’m preparing to move. However, I still have a LOT of my own products sitting around not being sold, because COVID-19 cancelled convention season.

The thing is, I don’t want to pack all of it. Because I’d rather see that a good chunk of this go to new homes. That way, you get comics to read and art to oggle, and I lighten my load for the move. Wins all around!

So I’m running a MASSIVE moving sale over on Storenvy.

You may remember my price changes from the last few weeks – on things like Johnson & Sir, Charlie & Clow: The Bonus Arc, and Dragons: A Sketchbook. Those sales prices will stay (for now).

ALL of the following sales prices are now on Storenvy:

These price are good UNTIL MAY 22.

So be sure to jump on these soon – the things you want may go out of stock sooner rather than later.

After May 22, the Storenvy shop will temporarily pause until I move into my new apartment.

IF YOU ARE BROKE – share this sale with friends who like indie artists! Make sure your friend give you a shout-out in the memo section of their order. That way, the two of you are entered to win a FREE commission from me! Two winners will be picked on May 24.

TL;DR. I’m running a sale on on Storenvy until May 22. If you’re broke, share the sale with your friends. Have your friend say “(Your name) sent me!” in the memo of the order. The both of you will be entered into a giveaway to win a FREE commission! Two winners will be selected May 24.

Questions? Leave them in the comments below.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.

Writing for Comics 101 – Why One-Liners Are Not Enough

In today’s installment of Writing for Comics 101, let’s talk about why one-liners are not enough.

If you missed it, I wrote in last week’s installment about how to write good characters. Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret about how to write dialogue for characters:

YOU CANNOT FORCE A ONE-LINER.

Admittedly, this is more of a problem I see in people who want to get into superhero or shonen comics. Both genres are guilty of having characters talking (almost incessantly) on the pages during action scenes. This incessant talking is meant to lead into quote-worthy one-liners.

Don’t get me wrong. I love one-liners. Otherwise I would not love the movie Mystery Men as much as I do.

But here’s the secret about one-liners: They are rooted in the characters.

To have good one-liners, you need to have good characters. To have good characters, you need to know your characters REALLY well. As in, you should know the things I talked about last week. If you don’t, go back to the Word document.

But a story cannot be made of one-liners alone. You need to have connective moments. Even Mystery Men knew that.

So what you need to learn is how to write actual, believable dialogue between characters.

To make that actual, believable dialogue, you need to understand your characters backgrounds, wants, and fears.

And here’s the most important secret about making comics that few people talk about:

Sometimes, the best thing you can say on the comic page…is nothing.

Trust me: silence can say more in a story than any amount of dialogue ever could. Read Cairo and Asterios Polyp if you don’t believe me.

If you still have questions, let me know in the comments. I’m happy to help.

That’s all for now. Thank you for reading!

You. Are. Awesome.