Recently, wonderful artist and sometimes Waiting on the Trade co-host Kathryn Prince (aka Red Phacelia) participated in a Project Art Cred experiment examining how different artists interpret the same comic script. Because I’m a process nerd, I asked Kat to walk y’all through her page creation process. I’ll let her take it from here.
The process of making a comic can take a long time, and that is largely due to the art, not the writing. This week I’m writing a guest post to give you an idea of what goes into illustrating a comic page. This particular comic page came about as a challenge to artists posted by Kieron Gillen in his weekly newsletter.
The premise of the challenge was that the meaning of a story changes dramatically based on how it is illustrated. Gillen wrote a single-page script, and over forty different artists submitted pages. (If you’d like to see all of them, check out this Twitter thread).
About half a year ago, I started a new job as a Content Strategist and Copywriter at a marketing firm – and I am LOVING it. Marketing writing trips my trigger for numerous reasons, but one of the biggest is that it utilizes what I’ve come to call my Comics Brain.
My Comics Brain is the part of me that thinks and writes in the language of comics – in the language of page layouts, speech bubbles, captions, and art direction. It’s the part of me that’s read so many essays, books, and tutorials about “How to Make Comics,” but hasn’t always had a way to apply those lessons.
Well, now I do. Marketing copy doesn’t live by itself; it’s mashed up with web and email layouts, Facebook ads, videos, and a whole host of other media. As such, I’ve been thinking with my Comics Brain a lot lately, because it helps me better collaborate with the rest of my team.
Below, I’ll make the case for how thinking like a comics writer helps me write better marketing copy. And if you read to the end, I’ll set you up with a couple books and other resources you can use to begin building your own Comics Brain.
As y’all know, I’m a comics process nerd. I like in-depth interviews with writers, artists, store owners, editors, and anyone comics-adjacent. So you can imagine my delight when I found David Harper’s Off Panel– an interview podcast that discusses all things comics with people both inside and adjacent to the industry.
Each Monday, Harper talks with a different comics creator (or other guest) about their work, often including their comic book origin story and what that creator’s up to right now. But Harper also goes deep on each creator’s process and outside interests, and sometimes, he releases episodes that look at the state of comic shops or the industry as a whole, rather than an individual creator’s work.
To convince you that you, too, should be listening to Off Panel, I’ve compiled a list of six of my favorite semi-recent episodes, which include creators, comics, and topics that I love. If you’re a comics process nerd, and you listen to the episodes below, I think you’ll be convinced to add Off Panel to your podcast feed.
Like many comics readers, I hope to one day publish my own comics. So I devour articles about process, and when I find a writer who goes deep talking about scripting, writer-artist relationships, or economics, I take note.
I’ve assembled the list below for those just starting to read about making comics. These five writers are, in my opinion, the best at talking process. They are not my five favorite writers period, though they’re all very good (and some would make that list). But they’re the ones who have the most to share about the act of writing, or at least the most patience to deal with those of us on the Internet who want to learn.