Advice for Planning Your First Comic

  • Keep the scope limited- tell a short story, rather than your grand epic- the goal is to practice and become comfortable telling stories within the comic medium.  If you have to do something with your grand epic, pick a short, self-contained story with simple backgrounds and actions to cut your teeth on.
  • Plan for 1-10 pages, and keep in mind that the difference between a one-page self-contained story, and a ten page self-contained story can be huge!
  • Write what you know.  Work from life!  Tell your own story, retell a story you know well, or tell the story of a loved one.
  • If you're illustrating your own comic, keep the cast smaller- it's easier to design and illustrate
  • On that note, keep the backgrounds humble.  Many find nature settings to be easier to draw, as accuracy isn't as important.
  • Simplify your dialogue!  Many beginners start with silent comics- this way you only have to worry about the plot and the illustrations, not dialogue or lettering.
  • Spend time getting to know your characters- sketching them out, designing their outfits ahead of time, getting into their heads so you understand their personalities.  Once you know your characters, the story often writes itself!
  • Revision is important!  So give yourself as many opportunities (stages, phases) to revise as possible.  Working page to page removes revision opportunities, and while you're a developing artist finding a voice, you're going to need room to grow.
  • Be patient with yourself- even pros make mistakes.
  • Research scriptwriting methods- beat sheets, synopsis, plotform- and find one that works for the story you want to tell.  This may mean trying ALL of the above methods to plan various comics, but when you find something that works, you'll know!
  • Take notes on your own work so you can grow and improve.  What worked for you?  What didn't work?
  • Congratulate yourself on each stage finished!  Every step is a milestone when you're just starting out, so take the time to acknowledge the work you've done.
  • Find or create a critique group of people you trust to help you hone your work.
  • Don't take mistakes personally- after all, you're still learning!  We're all still learning!  Mistakes mean you've taken a risk.
  • Don't take failure personally either- in order to fail, you had to take a risk and try something new, and this means growth.
  • It's easier to re-write and revise than it is to write, so just get those ideas down!  Brainstorm and give yourself options.
  • Read a variety of short stories and short comics to see how other creators frame their work within limitations.


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