Developing the Craft of Comics

There’s another thread on Panels and Pixels where a bunch of writers say it’s my story, my beats and I should tell the artist what to do. Some in polite terms, some in arrogant terms, some even recodnise that comics when working with an artist is a collaborative medium.

But the way you become good at a craft is by doing it, the endless practice of sitting at the computer working on your storytelling is how anyone gets good.

Writers never ever sit at a table and make a comic, no matter what they do, a keyboard alone cannot in any way shape or form make a comic. Script or plot isn’t a comic.

If you want to make good comics you have to make comics, do the actual craft. Drawing a page is so much closer to doing a comic and the reason so many comics suck is the expectation that script is a comic.

Its either a collaboration or a one man job, scripts ain’t nothing in comics

The Glory of Stick Figures-beginning to draw stories

In Brazil I was teaching teachers how to draw comics so they could work with students.

I started with the work of Ed Emberley ( posts coming) thinking simple graphic shapes, anyone can draw it! It’s an easy approach to drawing for kids. Yet college graduates, masters degrees and teachers where overwhelmed when the had to combine drawing even just circles and lines with storytelling.

I needed something more basic, simplier to allow them to tell a story and not have to be stuck on teaching just drawing. So I went to stick figures, to see if it could work I layed out a version of Tortoise and the Hare for them.

I found reducing a comic to a kirby grid six panels and full figures in Action only takes almost all the thought out of drawing a comic in terms of fancy shit and allows the focus to be on plot, events and pacing. It also reduces a comic to it’s most basic level for ease of understanding.

It was easier for them to have an entry into drawing the comics without trying to make anything look good, still drawing a normal gesture was hard for them.

Some thoughts

Stephen DeStefano always thought I drew weird (along with the rest of the comics biz, but he at least liked it) because I would start drawing from some point on the figure and follow the lines and shapes, He’ld scream at me, “Wheres the construction? wheres the foundation? how can you draw like that? ” I never understood why it bothered him, I was used to looking at something and drawing from life, he was used to constructing figures from the structure, probably the more logical way to draw comics.

Wife said this morning “Of course it’s easy, it’s a 20 second gesture drawing from life drawing class”.