Making [gottacon] comics

On Monday, I attended the VPL seminar “Writing Comics“. It featured local illustrator Angela Melick, from the web comic Wasted Talent. It was an excellent hour and a half covering such topics as; Prose vs. Comics writing, Genres & Styles, Process (my favourite part of the evening) and Publishing. Beside the occasional self-centered question from the audience, the crowd was really into the talk, and I’m betting that more than a few went home and started writing that very night.

Cas & I sure did. We set out to write a comic using Angela’s suggestions and see how it went. Cas wrote about an experience from his weekend at Gottacon, and I storyboarded my interpretation of his script. Click on the mini-strip below to see the full comic.

After completing this exercise with Cas, I would like to emphasize 2 rules from Angela’s talk that I found particularly helpful.

1. Completely finalize layout and script before you start to draw. I got 80% through drawing the line art that I would end up scanning into the computer before I realized that we hadn’t really agreed on what was going to be said in the final panel. When we went back to script the final panel, we found that we didn’t need to add anything to the final panel, but rather add a few extra beats (and script) before we got to the end of the page. This was frustrating and I had to erase work that I had already done. Don’t do this to yourself. Make sure your thumbnail/storyboard is exactly what you want before you start to draw for reals.

2. Be brief. This rule is super important. I think this comic is exactly the right length for what Cas and I were trying to accomplish, but it’s still too long for a first try. This took me a few days to pencil, ink, scan, clean & colour. While I was determined to see this through, I can imagine this process scaring away more than a few people. Angela said something great at her talk: Just draw a comic. Once you’re done, you’ll be however many panels you complete better than before you started. But you can’t get better until you start drawing. Therefore be brief. It will help you learn and get to where you want to be faster.

This was definately fun. Cas wrote a second comic from his Gottacon weekend and so I think I’ll try and get part two up by next weekend. I’m pretty busy next week as paying projects are starting to come in (I cannot complain at all), but I can’t wait to get started. I’m already 9 panels better than I was a week ago. 🙂

If you’re interested, Cloudscape Comics is a local community that connects people in the BC comic scene. Both Angela, and Jonathan Dalton (who was on hand to answer questions after the talk) are part of Cloudscape and they welcomed newcomers to check them out. I’m not quite ready to participate in any comic community as I’m still interested in exploring what I learned from the talk, but it looks like a really active group. It’s likely a good place to start if you’re not ready to get started on your own.

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