DIY Comics for Beginners Pt.1

Posted: Tuesday, July 15, 2003
By: Darren Schroeder

Cover of DIY Comics for Beginners Pt.1

Comics are an ideal do-it-yourself medium. Sure, we'd all like to be on DC's payroll but we don't have to wait until then to see our work in print. In this, the first of a series of article I'll try to outline some of the basic steps you can take to get your work in print.

1) You need a story.

This is the really hard bit cause no one can tell you how to have ideas. You just have to come up with them yourself. Because you are the creator, editor and distributor the comic can be about anything you want; superheros, cowboys, science-fiction, politics, religion, pornography and whatever else you care to think of. If you can't actually think of anything, try the autobiographical approach. Record some event from your own life. Maybe a travel diary, or an amusing event that took place, or even an examination of where you are at in your life. There's a big audience out there for slice-of-life material and it can also help you work though personal problem by seeing them from a different perspective.

Another good way to start with no particular plans is to do a jam comic, where a group of people co-authour a comic. This might be you and someone else drawing a character each and working frame to frame. You could use the exquisite corpse technique and get a group of people to take part, each drawing a panel and the dialogue for a separate panel. Such stories can be a bit erratic but they are good ways to get your imagination working.

A common technique is to use dreams as the basis for comics. You need to write them down as soon as you wake up in the morning. A good habit to get into is jotting down any and all your ideas, quotes, jokes etc. in a notebook as they occur because many a great idea has been lost due to poor memory. While you’re at it keep all the doodles you draw on the sides of lecture notes etc. These may be useful years later.

Work on the storyline and dialogue for a while before putting ink on the page. The effort you put in at this stage will help later on. You might want to keep in mind that most good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end that fit together. Sure some don’t and still find an appreciative audience, but most people like to be able to have some idea of what was going on when they reach the end of a comic. You could do your drafts in the style of a storyboard, with rough sketches of the action with the dialogue so you can fine tune how many panels you need to tell the story without having to rework your page layouts later on.

DIY Comics

Pt. 2 - Artwork
Pt. 3 - Materials
Pt. 4 - Publishing
Pt. 5 - Copyright
Pt. 6 - Distribution

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