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:
To be honest, there’s a way to get the information across that we need, without using a fuck-ton of dialogue.
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.
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.
The Woman of the Woods is a character I created for Rosetta and the Swan, my retelling of Swan Lake. (The version I’m working on is set around a fictional equivalent of the Baltic Sea. Also it’s the prince who is turned into a swan).
In my retelling of the story, the Woman of the Woods is one of many countless wise women who reside in The Woods. The Woods themselves are enormous and ancient. The people who live in Rosetta’s kingdom know of ONE Woman of the Woods – the one pictured above. She is hardly ever seen in her human form. Usually she is only spotted as a bear.
However, this particular Woman of the Woods has close ties to the royal family. And it’s she who blesses Rosetta with the ability to talk to animals.
All of this is to say…she’s available as a hi-resolution download. Check it out either on Patreon or Ko-Fi (she’s available for download on both platforms).
King Luxon IV was a good king. Many in his land would say he was the best leader their kingdom had ever known.
However, one day, King Luxon welcomed a stranger into his palace. This stranger revealed himself to be a vampire – and the vampire killed everyone in the palace.
A loyal advisor to the king led Luxon out through the secret tunnels, allowing Luxon to escape. Luxon attempted to return to the palace, but discovered too late that the vampire had taken over the kingdom completely. The vampire’s legion of monsters overran everything in less than a day.
So Luxon wandered through the countryside, lost, confused…and hurt. Until he came to a graveyard. There, he saw her:
The Raven Queen.
The Raven Queen watched over the souls of the living, ensuring that their transition into the afterlife was peaceful. Luxon soon learned that the Raven Queen hated the undead, and those who would raise the undead, as they are a violation of nature.
So Luxon swore his loyalty to the Raven Queen. She gave him the power he sought to fight the undead – and now he fights to reclaim his lost kingdom.
…So this is an original character I cooked up for Dungeons & Dragons.
The origin for the idea of this character is a long story, but it boils down to this: ultimately I asked myself, “What if an actor, who’s known for playing melodramatic characters, created a character of his own for a Dungeons & Dragons campaign?”
I was surprised that Luxon IV came out. Because I normally don’t play dramatic D&D characters. And I ESPECIALLY don’t play magic users.
Luxon is actually the first warlock I’ve designed.
If you’re curious, I’m using the Unearthed Arcana version of Warlock, specifically the pact with The Raven Queen. This particular subclass gives you benefits that the usual Warlock doesn’t get, and acts a bit more like a cleric with a vengeance.
However, unlike cleric, this is a Charisma-based build (because it’s not like we have a lot of charisma-based magic users in D&D, BWAHAHAHA). This makes sense for his power to be based on charisma, given his background.
As far as the sketch? I’ll polish it up a bit more eventually, but I wanted to share it as-is. I’ll post again when I ink (and maybe even color) this bad boy.