I think the first time I ever totally fell flat on my face was when I performed Bo Burnham’s Words Words Words at a poetry event and I’d memorised it, completely, in fact myself and my Sister often spit hot bars of it at each other, but when I started chucking it out, no one even smirked. When you’re reading something, professionally recognized, as being hilarious, and you know you’ve got to read your own shit after, and no one even raises an eyebrow in humorous reproach you know you are doomed.
I really want to do an entirely word based blog.
I know that is essentially what a blog is, like right now you are reading my drivel but usually I pepper it with loads of photos and talk about art and comics. I am currently doing a LOT of colouring and its a sort of dull job, I enjoy it and am getting much better at doing colours, but its not very taxing on the mind. I’m also working on an art project with Robin Jones of Average Joe and more or less every indie comic coming out un til the end of time. He’s been sharing some of his recent projects with me and its enough to make me weep. I first self published Punk Rock Apocalypse six years ago and I am still without the powers to unleash my dream projects.
All this leaves me wanting to do short sharp blog posts with no particular theme or topic.
I really like Warren Ellis’ Morning.Computer. I thought it might be another cool micro blogging site, but it turns out its just Warren’s newest madness lens. But I want to do that.
Writing comics can be quite hard, in comparison to wiritng prose for example. If you think really cinematically then you can just story board a sequence of events and thats cool, but its not really pushing the medium out there, read something like Young Avengers by Kieron Gillan and Jamie McKelvie and you can see some things you will only see in comics:
I think that one, thats a good one, but not my favourite one.
That one is. I MEAN FUCKING LOOK AT THAT.
Anyway, so when I write a comic to keep things fresh and interesting and so that I never ever think about the terrible action of actually having to draw it or put it on paper, I write the story and the dialogue as one big mush and then slice up and refine it into a script. So I’ll have this big long chain of everything I want to fit into it and everything I want people to say, and then I thing what goes onto which page, and then what goes into which panel. If too much is going on in a page I find a way to get it in there from the big pack of comic book tricks people have got going. Things you can only do in a comic.
Leave a panel, as see above.
Panels within Panels. (The below from Hawkeye drawn by David Aja)
Infographics. I love a good infographic in a comic. (See Simon Roy drawing Prophet)
And the double page spread can be more than just a big image
The above picture is from the indescribably brilliant Desolation Jones that has some of the greatest page layouts and I REALLY wanted to put one up there that was just impeccable, but would ruin the story if you ever wanted to read it, and you should, you SHOULD!
Why even have panels at all anyway?
Fabio Moon, (FABIO MOON LADIES AND GENTLEMEN) killing it there with Casanova book 2, but look at the top and bottom panel. No panel borders and that totally gives you the sense of confusion and action. Its amazing how just not having a border can change everything about a page layout.
In fact I think the above image there, page 1 from Nausicaá Of the Valley Of The Wind by Hayao Miyazaki comes from Matt Fraction’s blog, where he talks about that panel, that mysterious second panel with no border. Its the only panel in the whole LONG ass novel that doesn’t have a border, and look at that sense of space, the way you smell the open sky spilling in from that boundless space.
So yes, I would like to do a blog of all words, but not today.
Anyway, there are lots of things you can do to tell a story and I don’t think you can fit these in either by yourself, or in a straight line. Back and forth relationships with artists is an amazing benefit to comics. If you write a script and expect an artist to just ratchet out the object exactly as you gave it to them I think you are doing it all wrong. If as an artist you simplify something to make it easier for yourself you are also doing it wrong. The envelope is there to push it surely. Embrace what you are both uniquely good at.
There are also a lot of Narrative techniques that you can only get in comics but thats another blog for another day.
Also: Want to be a great comics writer? Buy a book on art. Specifically, Buy THE book on comics art which is Scott McCloud’s Making Comics, and it’ll open your mind a bit on how you can layout a page. Its sort of like the Karma Sutra, no one can really expect to DO all the things in the book as it is illustrated in the pages of that oft turned book, but if it helps you put your knee in a new place it will revolutionize your love life.
Seriously though, lean in, and put the back of their legs over your shoulders or something.
Only in terms of comics.