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Author Topic: making my own comic (aka "I'm insane")  (Read 15868 times)


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making my own comic (aka "I'm insane")
« on: 14 Feb 2006, 08:01 »

Hi all,
A friend and I are going to be starting up our own comic soon, based on experiences in our job. We've gotten several "one-liner" type scripts all ready for when the cartoonist comes on board (tomorrow, with a bit of luck!), but aside from those and the obligatory back-story.. er.. stories, we've got nothing - for now. Neither of us has ever undertaken such a project before either, and we plan to have at least a month's worth of material before we launch.

Basically, I wish to pose the age-old question of how do other cartoonists construct their story-arcs? There's the two obvious (only?) choices; plan the outline of the whole thing then write, or start at the beginning and just "let it happen" and be just as surprised as everybody else at how it turned out.
Of course, there's the combination of the two where you plan a story stucture and then fill in the details as you go along.
Then there's the PvP option of planning a big long story arc and then whimping out halfway through... (sorry Scott, if you're reading this! :P)

I'm thinking that the combination option is the one that most people go for; I remember Stephen King wrote once that he starts out with an idea of how his story will end, but is more often than not quite surprised at the difference between that idea and how the story actually ends.

The way I see it, there's three types of webcomic story;
Penny-Arcade, White Ninja et al, where each strip is a story on its own, with no continuity between strips, aside from the occasional forays into storytelling. I'm almost temtped to call this "miscontinuity".

Kevin & Kell, Sinfest et al, where there is a constant stream of 'gag' strips interspersed with the occasional story-arc, all set against the backdrop of a vague greater arc.

GPF, Nukees et al, where there are regular month-long arcs interspersed with truly epic-length stories, such as Surreptitious Mechanations, To Thine Own Self, and pretty much any Nukees story. No "gag" strips, just stories. This is what I'd consider QC to be (the epic-length one is whether or not Marten will get in on with Faye/Dora/Pintsize...)

So I throw it out to the cartoonists/script writers out there; how do you go about constructing your longer storylines? Which method do you find to have the best results?



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making my own comic (aka "I'm insane")
« Reply #1 on: 14 Feb 2006, 12:13 »

First off, good luck to you sir/ma'am!  Many blessings upon your future.

The webcomic that a friend and I made for an amazingly short period of time was born of our manic love of RPG's.  I concocted a loose plot for a RPG story and we just kinda waded into the thick of it from there.  Start with the obligatory introduction to set the stage, move into character development and major plot, then magnify for detail and intrigue.

The first half dozen comics or so was mostly me just building from the previous comics in a hopefully cohesive fashion and running with it.  By the time we called it quits due to massive lack of foresight in terms of available time with which to dedicate to our hobby (I think somewhere around comic 16), I had taken off with the story and had a pretty serious ammount of story/plot drawn up.  (So much so that I'm actually turning it into a novel)

As far as creating arcs, I'm probably not of much help to you here.  While what I was scripting was arcular in scope; (pretty sure I just made up that word) in a story driven comic, there's no real beginning/end so you have to figure out how to manage interest on a grand scale.

The one off style like PA gives you no end of freedom to do whatever you want, but you have to be seriously funny/interesting/artistic or no one will bother revisiting a comic that has no pull from strip to strip.

I think the biggest thing to understand is how to present your material in an interesting and engaging way.  You can create epic arcs, but each comic has to be strong enough to be interesting on its own.  No one wants to wait 2, 3, however many days you're updating for the next comic if the current one has no meat to it.  You really have to have /something/ happen in each strip that makes it enjoyable all on its own.

I think I'm just rambling now.  Sorry if this was completely useless.  I'll be over here.  In the truck.


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making my own comic (aka "I'm insane")
« Reply #2 on: 15 Feb 2006, 13:24 »

Hey! I have been cartooning for about 5 months now, and have actually just set up a site to help new cartoonists (linked in my sig)

My advice, first and foremost, is do what YOU want to - don't try and emulate anyone else's style. One, it's boring. Two, you'll get frustrated.

I personally get bored by long story lines. And if it gets complicated and a new reader wades in halfway through theyve got a huge backlog to read through (which personally, I can never be arsed to do and just abandon the comic)

So my comic has long running themes, but each strip can still stand alone.


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making my own comic (aka "I'm insane")
« Reply #3 on: 16 Feb 2006, 01:41 »

Well, we've met the cartoonist, and Oh. Your. GOD, he's amazing! Far, far better than we could have hoped for - so much so that now I'm really starting to freak out about our ability to come up with scripts to match such an awesome style - hence, I'm more worried about the best way to write stories than the artwork - that bit's all well & truly sorted.

Anyway, thanks for the thoughts, people.. I'm interested in hearing more from other people as well, so keep 'em coming! :D
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