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Creating Your own Comics 101

Posted on Jun 13, 2012 by in Features | 0 comments

Zyklon B Page five colored
Have you ever sat down after reading a comic, been totally blown away and thought “Hmm, I would love to be able to create something as great as that?” Or on the flip side been bitterly disappointed after reading a comic and shouted out loud, “What a pile of crap! I know I could do better.” If so, then maybe you have thought about creating your own comic book. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Well, be warned, the road ahead for the novice comic book creator is full of peril, heartache and plain frustration. However, when it’s done right, it can be the most rewarding thing in the world. This article is not going to tell you how to write a good story, correctly format a script or where to find your creative team. This general overview is a concise breakdown of the logical steps needed to create your own comics.
First off, if you are going to be creating your own comics you will be falling into one of two categories. 1. Independent or 2. Creator owned. What is the difference between the two? This is a question that has no definitive easy answer so I will break it down as simply as I can. Essentially, there is no real difference. Independent comics and creator owned comics are funded, owned and produced by the creative team involved in making them. The major difference is that a true independent comic is self published/printed or can come out on a small press publisher and creator owned comics sometimes go through much larger publishing company while still retaining the rights.

When starting your journey into making your own comics, you don’t need to make a distinction between the two.

Assemble your creative team

The most important thing that you need to do is assemble your creative team. This is quite possibly the greatest challenge that you will face. There are hundreds of networking sites online with thousands of people wanting to work in comics. Choosing the right team can take time, patience and should not be rushed into. The team will generally consist of a writer and artist to start with and then bring in other members such as a colorist and letterer as things progress. There are some really talented folks out there that can write, draw, color and letter. These people don’t need my help, so the following only really applies to the rest of us.

Production

Once your creative team is in place, it is time to start production. Production can be broken down into the following stages.

  1. Script
  2. Artwork
  3. Coloring (optional)
  4. Lettering (Including editing)

Script

The first thing you will need to get started is a working script. The script is the foundation of any comic and tells the artist the story and how to draw the panels. At this early stage, it is most important that your script be correct as far as all the art is concerned. The dialogue can and most likely will change as time goes on. However, making sure that the sequential story telling is accurate is a must as it’s much harder to edit once the artwork has started. Once your script is in place, its time for the artist to work their magic.

createArtwork

This will usually involve pencils and inks. In today’s modern world of comic book making, it is not uncommon for artists to work solely in digital with not a scrap of paper ever used. It is important to allow the artist time enough to create a great looking product but there should be a working deadline in place, otherwise things can run on and on. It is important for the writer and artist to stay in touch during this time so that the finished pages have continuity between the two.

Color or Black and White

This is one of the big debates in the world of comics and is a decision you need to make alone. There are pros and cons to both choices. It is fairly common for independent comics that are self-published to be in black and white. This cuts costs both in terms of producing artwork and also when it comes to printing. There are also many successful books out there in black and white and when done well can look breathtaking. Even if you don’t plan on using color, it may still be a good idea to bring in a colorist if you want grey scaling or shading done on your book.

Lettering

The final stage of production is to have the comic lettered. Some people have the programs and skills to do this themselves. However, a good letterer can make a great comic even better and they should be able to edit the comic as well. Editing is very important, as it will correct your grammar, punctuation and spelling. Nothing shouts out “Novice comic book maker” quite like a poorly lettered comic.

Publishing and Printing

Now that you have a finished product, its time to publish. With print on demand services and sites offering digital downloads, it has never been easier to self publish. Sites such Indyplanet offer a great service for independent comic publishing and have a print on demand service through Kablam. They even work out your margins, handle sales and shipping. All you need to do is start promoting. There are also many options if you want to sell your comics yourself at conventions and to comic book shops. Make sure that you use a printer that has experience in comic book printing and ask for samples using the color, paperweight and finish that you want so you can make an informed choice.

Promoting

Promoting your finished comic is the most important thing you can do. The bottom line is, without a publisher promoting the book, nobody will even know it exists if you don’t start telling the world. There are a ton of social networking sites you can use such as Facebook and Twitter. Just get talking to people and spread the word. Also, venture down to your local comic book shop and show them what you have been doing. Most of them will support a local creator and may even offer to let you do a launch or book signing to help promote it.

So these are the basic steps that you will need to take if you want to create your own comics. Stay tuned as I will be delving into each process in depth and talking to independent creators about their experiences in making comics.

+Adam Cheal

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