Comic Books = Amazing Medium for Visual Storytelling!
If you want to get your story made and appreciated by fans, screenwriters should consider developing their stories as comic books or a graphic novel. Cue screenwriters: “But I can’t draw!” Relax, and read on…
1) Realise your idea
You visualised this story as you wrote it. What if you could bring just your story to life as you intended it? No agents, no producers, no directors — just you and an artist.
Creating comic books means partnering with an artist and getting your story made. This is incredibly powerful. It puts you in the driver’s seat and makes you a creator.
2) Make your screenplay better
You’ve written fifteen drafts and you’re done. It cannot be improved. We’ve all been there.
But something happens when you take off the writer’s hat and put on the creator’s hat. As you work with an artist, you will start to see your work in a new light. Maybe you really don’t need that scene … Maybe you need a new scene or transition where everything seemed to work in print? Making something real is the best way to see what works and what doesn’t.
3) Build an audience for your work
Your family and friends love to read your screenplays. Right? But what about strangers aka potential fans?
There is no market for fans to read screenplays. Creating a comic book gives you something to share, digitally or in print. If you believe there is an audience out there for your work, then find them and put your work in their hands!
4) Establish your intellectual property
This may be number four on the list, but it is number one in terms of priority. It’s your idea. They are your characters. You should own them. Just ask Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. They borrowed a few thousand dollars to create their comic book, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Do you think they’re glad they established this idea as their intellectual property?
5) Copyright your work and then DON’T sign away your rights!
Don’t just register with the WGA, establish your copyright. You are in a MUCH stronger position to retain your rights if you have established your work in another medium (i.e., by creating a comic book). Seriously, don’t let the fat cats steal your great idea.
So, how do you get started creating a comic book?
Comic books are SO much more than superhero stories. They’re a very sophisticated medium. You may even learn to love creating comic books so much, you ditch Hollywood altogether!
Know the history of comics, read comics, and learn from them. As a starting point, I always recommend Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics.
Another great resource is Comics Connection / Comic Book Institute which runs classes, hosts Q&A sessions and provides online resources. This is a great place to learn about the industry, meet other creators and start building your network.
Lastly, unless you can draw yourself, you will also need to find an artist that shares/enhances your vision for the story. Here’s an article from Dumb Comic Creators on how to hire a comic artist.
Creating a comic requires a significant investment of time to get started, but I believe the rewards are well worth the effort.
BIO: Shawn Hainsworth AKA Darin X. Cape is the founder of SHP Comics. He writes and publishes comic books, writes short stories and screenplays, and is a documentary filmmaker.