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.
HOLY BANANA PANTS, it’s finally here – The Legend of Jamie Roberts, Chapter 1 is now on KickStarter, looking for funding to get to print!
Patreon support has helped make the production of each individual page possible. But KickStarter will help cover the gap to get this first issue to print.
The book will include a never-before-published short comic about Captain O’Malley (just how DID she lose her arm?). Plus there will be behind-the-scenes sketches showing how pages for the comic are made.
Among the rewards available for backers, there’s commissions, WANTED poster-style mini-prints, and even a new 11 x 17 inch print!
So if you can back this KickStarter campaign, please do so BEFORE JUNE 20.
Broke? Share this campaign with your friends. Every share helps.
Want to back the campaign, but don’t see a reward you like? Hit me up via email at kelci(at)kelcidcrawford.com and I’ll work with you.
Falconhyrste is a young adult, coming-of-age story set in a world with magic, mystery, and a rainbow of characters. It’s also charming as heck.
Today I got one of the creators of the story, Melissa Capriglione, to answer some questions for me about the inspiration and process behind making this webcomic.
Not only is this a return of an old segment on my blog called Featured Artist Friday – it’s also the launch date of Falconhyrste on KickStarter! Let’s celebrate by taking a peek into Melissa’s creative process:
What inspired you to make this comic in particular?
Initially, I wanted to make a comic because I needed experience in making comics! I was in my sophomore year of college at the time and, wanting to be a comic artist when I graduated, I realized I had little to no experience at making comics. So I went with the most accessible option- a webcomic! Anyone can make one, and you can host it on a variety of platforms.
The story itself was inspired by love for everything supernatural, and I brought in a lot of inspiration from various anime and comics.
You make this comic with another artist. What prompted the collaboration?
In December of 2015, I went on social media and asked if anyone wanted to collaborate on a webcomic. Clara (now my co-author) responded out of the blue and then we began brainstorming the story and swapping sketches. Both of us were beginner comic artists and didn’t have set styles at the time, so it was tumultuous.
I wanted to collaborate on the comic because we planned for it to be a larger project and I couldn’t see myself taking it on my own. We also act as each other’s beta readers, so the collaboration helps us figure out the plot and make sure our writing sounds good. It also just helps to have an extra set of eyes around for general feedback!
How was the collaboration process when you started out? What kinks in the system have you had to work through?
It was pretty rough in the beginning! We had no idea how long it would take us to make a page, so we were scrambling to finish our first handful of pages. It took us about an entire two weeks to make just one page, but now it takes us about a day or two.
Since then, we learned a lot about formatting pages, setting them up so we’re not using 50 layers, and general streamlining of the process.
This comic has been online for 4 issues now. How long do you intend for Falconhyrste to last?
Since we’re printing issue four, we plan on printing issue five sometime mid 2019. The pages for issue five (and half of issue six) are all done and on the website (falconhyrste.com), so we hope to have those in physical form soon!
As for the story itself, we’ve been doing this for about three and a half years now, and we’re not even a third of the way through our story! But the reason why it took us all these years to do barely 200 pages was because of our busy schedules. We were both in school when we were beginning, so we had to skip a lot of updates and take mini hiatuses due to exams and work schedules.
But now I’m full-time freelance so I can dedicate more time to the story, and hopefully Falconhyrste won’t take another ten years to finish!
Do you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser? (A plotter outlines the story in advance, a pantser makes up the story as they go along. It’s ok if you’re somewhere in between!)
Definitely somewhere in between! The entire script is written out in its entirety, but it’s mostly still the first draft from early 2016, so it’s not that great! We’ve kept a few parts but we’ve added and edited stuff since then. We usually try to plan a chapter ahead, though.
Dang near everybody in this comic is somewhere in the LGBTQ+ rainbow – which I’m not complaining about! I also saw in your portfolio website that you call yourself a “queer artist.” Now, there are (I have discovered) LOTS of LGBTQ+ comics and creators out there. What is it about Falconhyrste that makes it special to you?
Both of us are LGBTQ+, so we wanted to make a story that included people like us, as well as many other people in the community. It’s important to have queer stories available to younger audiences (Falconhyrste is classified as young adult) so that it can be more normalized.
Falconhyrste is special, I think, in that we enjoy just having queer characters existing happily in a world without bigotry and adversity, and use magic! Lots more comics these days are going that route, and it’s certainly refreshing to see, and I’m glad to be a part of this movement.
To create my own stories from my perspective and make the queer comics world even more colorful is one of my goals.
Falconhyrste will be on KickStarter November 16 (that’s today)! Is this your first KickStarter campaign or have you run previous ones? If you’ve done it before, what have you learned from previous campaigns?
This is our first Kickstarter, yes!
Before this, we did a pre-order for issues one through three, and the response to it was far greater than expected, so managing all of that by hand was kind of overwhelming. I figured Kickstarter would be our next best bet because it’ll be easier to manage rewards and stretch goals, as well as communicate with our supporters on a better level.
Obvious question: What tools do you use to make your comic? Is it purely digital?
Yes, 100% digital! I use a Wacom Cintiq 24HD with Photoshop CC, and Clara uses a Wacom Intuos with Clip Studio Paint.
Falconhyrste is a coming of age story if I’ve ever seen one. Are there other coming-of-age stories you want to write, or do you think your next story idea will be in a different kind of genre?
I think coming-of-age stories are my main focus. Growing up, I didn’t have a lot of stories I could relate to and ended up being uninterested and bored by most stories. Nowadays it’s so inspiring to see comics reaching a much wider variety of audiences than they did just ten years ago!
Lots of comics makers (and aspiring comics makers and other artists) read my blog. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
Start where you can!
If you have a story that you just need to create, don’t wait until you’re “good enough” to create it. You’ll get better through the process. It takes time, practice, and effort, but it will all pay off eventually.
If you don’t know what Patreon is, that’s ok: Patreon is an online subscription service that lets you support your favorite artists, often for as little as $1 a month.
To clarify: I have a Patreon page for the comics I write and illustrate under the Fantasyville Productions label. These comics include, but are not limited to:
The Case of the Wendigo
and the upcoming The Legend of Jamie Roberts.
There’s a separate Patreon page for Validation and its related stories (including Mr. Dino & Friends, Roxie Comics, and Tiny Unicorn). That’s because the Validation comics are a collaborative effort with Christian Beranek and myself.
Funding for my Fantasyville Productions comics does not go to Validation, and Validation funding does not go to Fantasyville Productions comics.
I ran the Patreon pledge drive for my page (not Validation’s) because the comic shop I currently work at has cut my hours severely. Like, now I only work there 5 hours a week.
So I ran the Patreon pledge drive to see if a) I could get new patrons to b) help cover the lost income due to my hours getting cut.
The goal was to jump from $180 a month to $250 a month. My goal for the end of the year is to make $500 a month on Patreon alone, so to get to $250 by the half-year point would have gotten me closer to this goal.
By the end of the week, we went from $170 a month to $201 a month.
It didn’t make my goal, but it’s still not bad at all, especially for only having a pledge drive that lasted a week.
What surprised me more was the current patrons I had who increased their pledges – often by an extra $3 a month! That’s amazing!
We also got a new patron on board, which is marvelous, and so immensely helpful.
And so, with the combination of the new patron plus the increased pledges from current ones, we reached one of the Patreon goals listed on the page: at $200/month, I’m now going to draw a patron-exclusive The Case of the Wendigo desktop wallpaper!
Honestly, it’s just amazing that folks who love my comics were willing and able to chip in and help during this tough time. This will help make production of The Legend of Jamie Roberts go just that little bit smoother.
If you would like to pledge support, and help bring The Legend of Jamie Roberts to life, please check out my Patreon page. You can adjust or cancel your pledge at any time.
Even if you pledge $1 a month, you get to see behind-the-scenes development of the comics I do.
If you’re broke, that’s totally ok, because Patreon is optional. If you would rather make a one-time donation, there’s a Paypal donate button on the side of this website, or you can purchase a convention goody from my online store.