How to Make a Comic
Comics have a way of making us feel. Whether that be laughter, sadness,
intrigue, excitement, or any other emotion, the power of a visual story cannot
be denied. Creating your own comic book can be a rewarding experience, and
easier than you might think. If you've got an idea, follow this guide to turn it
into a reality.
Developing the Comic
Write down the basics. A comic is, at its most basic level, a narrative told
through sequential images, called frames or panels. Even a single-frame comic
has to have a sense of forward movement. In that sense, a comic is not really
different from any other form of storytelling, and thus follows certain conventions.
Setting. Every story is set somewhere. Even if the background is
just plain white, that's still a setting. The setting is the backdrop for the actions
of your characters, and depending on your story can be an integral part of the narrative.
Characters. You need actors for your story. Your characters move
the action, they speak the dialogue, and they are who the reader connects with.
Develop your characters over time; this is especially important for strips that
form longer narratives.
Conflict. Every story needs a conflict to drive it. This is the basis
of the story, the "why" of what your characters are doing. This can be as simple
as checking the mail or as complex as saving the universe.
Themes. The theme of your comic is what drives the day to day
creation. Your theme will also dictate your audience. If you're writing a comedy
strip, what are the nature of the jokes? If you're writing a love story, what are
the lessons of love learned?
Tone. This is the vibe of your comic. Are you writing a comedy?
Is your story more of a drama? Maybe you're looking at doing political cartoons.
Your possibilities are endless. Combine comedy with drama, make it dark, or
light-hearted. Write a romance, or a gripping political thriller. Your tone will be
expressed through dialogue, narrative text, and visuals.
Write What You Know
One of the best ways to make your comics feel "true" is to write about what
you know. This will also help you keep your own voice in your writing, and prevent
you from copying too much from other comics.
Decide on a Style
Because you are creating a comic, your visual style will be the first aspect
of your comic that the reader encounters. Choose a style that matches both
the tone of your story and the image you have in your head. Experiment with
various styles until you find one that feels natural to draw and to write for.
There are a variety of popular styles that you can practice and then adapt to
your own needs. Here are just a few examples:
• American Superhero
• Sprites⁄Clip art
• Sunday funnies
Dramas usually necessitate a more elaborate visual style than a comedy. There
are exceptions to this, however, as with every rule when it comes to creating something.
If you would like to become a real digital-age professional, check out the free
open-source Inkscape vector
graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or Freehand. What sets
Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C
standard, as the native format.