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      Welcome!   03/05/2016

      Welcome, everyone, to the new 910CMX Community Forums. I'm still working on getting them running, so things may change.  If you're a 910 Comic creator and need your forum recreated, let me know and I'll get on it right away.  I'll do my best to make this new place as fun as the last one!

So you want to make a Webcomic...?

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Thom Revor

Required Reading?

I've been asked numerous times if there are any books that I would recommend for those getting into the webcomic world.

Again, please note that I come from this from a writer's aspect.  So, some of these may shock and surprise.

Also, I didn't include in things that should already be sitting on your desk, whether you be writer or artist, such as a dictionary, thesaurus, Bartlett's quotations, 

 


 

The Chicago Manual of Style -- This is one of the definitive works on the style of writing.  Yes, this is one of those books that should already be on your desk, but it is surprising how few newcomers know about it.  

Successful Script Writing -- Written by Jurgen Wolff & Kerry Cox.  Why would I include in a book on writing scripts for movies or TV?  Because, like movies and television, comics are a visual medium.  A good script can let an artist (be they  yourself or someone else) in definitive terms what it should be.  A lot of the terminology used in the movie/TV industry carries over to the comic world and it's good practice to not only use it, but just to know what it is.

The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics -- Dennis (Denny) O'Neil has written some of the most memorable stories in DC Comics history.  From the Hard Travelling Heroes of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, to a certain Dark Knight, to so much else.  With this book, O'Neil lets you peer behind the curtain into not only his methodology, but also that of some of his fellow writers and editors.  The chapter on concurrent arcs (where he draws upon the skills of Paul Levitz and his time writing for the Legion of Super-Heroes) is one of those things that I still go back and read.

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way -- This is the Granddaddy of all the "How To" draw comic books, a book that I've owned since I was a kid in the 1970s.  With the writing skills of the venerable Stan Lee and the artwork of the multitalented John Buscema, this isn't a book on how to draw Marvel Characters.  Rather this is how to draw Comics -- the positioning of the art, the perspective of the characters and the background, and so much more.  As a writer, I've always felt it important to know how to communicate to an artist.  This book allowed me -- a guy who can not draw -- to view into the mind of a terrific and long time comic artist.

Writing for Comics and Graphic Novels -- This slice of genius is brought to us by (in my opinion) one of the greatest comic writers ever, Peter David.  Not just one of the best "How To" books for those who wish to get into the comic industry, but also rife with stories and "behind the scene" views of both happy and sad incidents behind the creation of some of the greatest comics ever published (I still love the origin of the "craggy face" of an oncoming asteroid in The Atlantis Chronicles!).  I actually own three copies of this book -- the original Writing for  Comics, a very word and well read current edition, and one that I had signed by PAD himself.  It's that good.

Anything from Scott McCloud.  McCloud could be considered the Comic Historian.  But not just that, he's delivered several terrific books on both the theory and application of writing and art in comics.  Understanding Comics, Reinventing Comics, and Making Comics are some of the best books ever about the process and possibilities of comics, showing them to be a LOT more than just "funny books" for kids.  I like to consider myself a teacher of comics.  McCloud is the Dean of that school.

Zot! The Complete Black and White Collection: 1987-1991 -- Okay, okay.  I'm cheating a little bit.  Another Scott McCloud book.  But unlike the three previously mentioned, this is a collection of the comic McCloud wrote back in the late 80s.  But more than that, it's annotated.  The insight McCloud gives into what he did, why he did it, and what he'd do differently now gives a whole different perspective on the creation of a comic series than his other works.

Comics and Sequential ArtGraphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative, Expressive Anatomy for Comics and Narrative, and anything else from Will Eisner -- If Scott McCloud is the Dean of the school of Comics, Eisner is it's founder.  Almost everything that we use nowadays about the Graphic Storytelling Medium that we simply call "Comics" we owe to Will Eisner.   If you don't get any of the other books on this list, get yourself something from Eisner.  There's a reason why the comic industries highest award was named after him...  And don't just limit yourself to his "How To"'s.  There are many other books (whether they be the collection of his slice-of-life stories, or the collection of his "superhero", The Spirit) from him that need to be not just read, but experienced.

How to Make Webcomics -- In my opinion, the title is a little misleading.  It does cover a good portion about the business of webcomics.  But in the actual content, I feel like it's directed more towards the "gag-a-day" strips (such as those seen in newspapers) and kind of leaves the other types of webcomics out in the cold.  It's still a good book to own.

 


 

There are so many more books out there on the subject of creating comics.  I've limited this list to the ones I personally either own or have read.  

When looking up the subject on a popular Internet Book Selling site, there were a lot more than came up that looked very interesting -- "The Webcomics Handbook" by Brad Guigar (lilke the radiation meter...), Will Eisner's Shop Talk (Eisner chats with some of the other greasts in the Comic Industry, such as Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Jack Davis, Neal Adams, C.C. Beck, Milton Caniff, Gill Fox, and Harvey Kurtzman -- and if any of those names don't sound familiar to  you, go research them.... Now!!!), Alan Moore's Writing for Comics Volume 1 (Yes...  That Alan Moore -- The man who took detailed scripts and multiplied it exponentially...), and others.  But there were also a lot that came up that struck me as far inferior.

 


 

And like with everything else, these should be read and studied, but don't let them limit you.  Everything Will Eisner or Jack Kirby did was a new thing at one time.  

And maybe you'll be the first to do something that catches everybody's eye, too.

 

Thom Revor

I was sitting in traffic the other day when a very dirty and disheveled man walked past on the side of the road.  This is not an uncommon occurrence in any city, but the writer in me couldn't let it go.

Who was that person?  What paths led him here?  Was it by choice or circumstance?

And then the scenarios began running through my head.  He could have been a former executive who through a bad choice ended up losing everything.  He could've been a foreign agent, disguised as part of the "invisible crowd" so as to scope out his target.  He could've been someone who was just having a very bad day -- Murphy's law run amuck.

These are the sort of things you should ask yourself when you create characters.  Characters in your webcomics should be more than just the two dimensional figure on the screen.  They should live and breathe in your head.  You should know their background, their likes and dislikes, their loves and their fears.

Back when Darin Brown and I did a filler comic for John Lotshaw's Accidental Centaurs, we had a scene where one of the main characters went into a bar.  As such, we wanted to do a riff on Cheers.  So, instead of "Woody", we got "Wood-eye".  The popular barfly was "Nahrm".  A Naga in the background was "Kalif".  With the exception of Nahrm (who, as the town blacksmith, was instrumental to the story), they were all what I call "throwaway characters".  They were there... then they were gone.

Except...  they weren't.

Take the character of the bartender Wood-eye.  Why "Wood-eye"?  Well...  obviously he had to have a wooden eye, which means he lost an eye somehow.  How did he lose it?  So, the bartender became a former soldier and he lost it in battle.  If he was a soldier, what did he do?  

And from there, a throwaway character -- just for my own sake -- began to take on a life of its own.

I never expected to do anything with these characters again.  They were for a short run of comics made to expand out the background of one of Accidental Centaurs' main characters, to give him a little more character (no pun intended) within the comic himself by giving him armor and a sword.  But people began asking about Woodeye and Nahrm.  People *liked* them.  People wanted to see more of them. 

I credit that to the strength of the characters.  That, in the short time they were around, had something that made people wonder about them.  They had questions about these characters and wanted to know more.  And that's when Darin and I started up our own comic of Crossworlds.  Where the throwaway and joke character of Woodeye became much more than just that.  We got to see more about him and the other characters.  And where their lives and situations became more than just a couple of strips.

Now, I'm not saying you have to have an encyclopedia-sized history for each and every figure that appears in your comic.  In fact, an overly detailed background can actually be hazardous to story telling.  There need to be gaps in to which your characters history can grow.  

But don't hesitate to ask yourself the questions of who they are.  Sometimes you'll surprise  yourself.

And they may surprise you, too.

Thom Revor

How To Begin

For those who don't know me, I'm Thom Revor.  I'm the writer and co-creator of the webcomics "Crossworlds" and "Murry & Lewy".  I've also been a substitute writer, co-writer, editor and publisher for  many others. 

The first comic I did was when I was 8 years old.  A friend and I wrote and drew (well...  he drew.  As an artist, I make a great mess...) a superhero comic book.  I had been reading comics since long before that and still do to this day.  I've seen the work of the greats (Otto Binder, Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Neil Adams, Jim Steranko, John Romita [Sr and Jr.], Peter David, Elliot S! Maggin, Mark Waid, Dennis O'Neil, and so many  more that I could fill the server just with their names).

And then, much later in life, I joined their ranks as a legitimate comic creator.

 

I say this so that you will understand that when I come at passing on some of the lessons I've learned, it comes with a bias.  I love comic books.  They are an art form unto themselves.  They aren't just the written word.  They aren't just artwork.  They are an amalgamation of both, truly reaching the definition of synergy, where the whole is greater than just the sum of their parts.

Or... at least it should be.

 


When starting off to do a webcomic, it isn't pencils, inks, colors, or a computer that is the most important thing.    It's passion.

In any profession, if you are to become successful, you have to have that passion for what you do.  If you are wanting to do a webcomic because you want to get rich or because you think it's an easy way to make money...  it's not and I suggest you look elsewhere.

There are some who do make it big, who become famous or make a good chunk of money from them.

But they started off with the same thing that everyone else should.  They need to:

  1. Want to do this and 
  2. Need to do this.

You have to have ideas bursting out of you.  Stories that need to be told or characters that need to be seen on the page.  Something that drives you from the inside that says "I want to be seen!"

 


The second thing you should have is dedication.

Bill Holbrook, creator of the webcomic Kevin & Kell (http://www.kevinandkell.com) as well as the King Features syndicated comic strips On the Fastrack and Safe Havens ("syndicated", as in "published in the newspapers") who every day has a schedule time where he goes in and creates his comics. K&K and Fastrack are both published every day.

Let me repeat that...  Every day.

That's not to say he doesn't take a vacation or spend time with his family.  But he knows this is his livelihood and so during certain times of the day goes in to do his job.  He does his strips several weeks in advance and has a buffer built up just in case something unforeseen happens.

And Bill hasn't missed a day of Kevin and Kell during it's entire electronic publishing run -- a publishing run that has been going on since September 3, 1995.

Bill is who I want to be when I grow up.

 


The third thing you should have is talent.

It pains me to say this, but there are some people who shouldn't be doing comics.  In my opinion, they can't write or they can't draw.  The passion and dedication may be there, but it's just missing that third crucial component.  

That's not to say that if you can't, you don't have a chance in comics.

(Just look at Rob Liefeld or the other Image founders...)

But you do need to take an honest assessment of yourself.  It's hard.  Really hard.  But not everyone is the same and some people just don't have what it takes.

 


Which leads me to the fourth thing you should have:  Confidence.

You have to believe in yourself and what you are doing.  I've spoken with so many writers and artists who all say the same thing:  "I'm not as good as <that person>.  I need to give up."

One of my favorite stories is about a guy who took one of those "Draw This Character" tests inside a matchbook cover.  (If you don't know what a matchbook cover is, look it up...  This is the Internet after all!)  He spent a careful amount of time on it, drew the picture and waited for a response.  And he got one...  "you'll never be an artist."

It's a good thing that he didn't listen to them.  Otherwise, the Army would have missed out on a unique style they used for some of their medical pamphlets.

Oh, yeah.  We wouldn't have had Charlie Brown, Snoopy, or the rest of the Peanuts gang, either.

Just because someone else says you can't write or you can't draw, doesn't mean you can't.  Practice what you do.  Get advice from others.  And believe in yourself.

And who knows?  Some day you may be telling others how to do something!

 


Next blog, I'll be getting a little more into the technical portion of comics.

 

From someone else who was told he'd never amount to anything...

 

Thom Revor

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