I started making thumbnails for Rancidville long before there was a story and before I started to take making comics seriously. I had snippets of dialogue, characters and a rough outline. So, when it came time to start drawing, I just dove right in. I started making pages with no real plan. I had been reading comics my whole life, how hard could this be?

Turns out, using this approach, very hard indeed.

So my first set of pages were chaotic and barely readable. What I needed was to create a set of rules to follow to ensure my work not only flowed properly but that it had some consistency to it.

Comics, like any medium, have a specific way that makes them work. From Panel choice to word balloons, pacing and page-turn reveal, there is a lot of science to the art of making comics (this is explored in Scott McCloud’s book “Understanding Comics”).

So, first I decided to make some layout/format rules:

  1. No Double-Page Spreads
  2. No more than 6 panels on a page
  3. Each page should end with a page-turn reveal (if possible) to motivate readers to return next week and find out what happens
  4. Draw everything with Pencil
  5. Ink every page by hand
  6. Scan and digitally color

Once I had those set, I needed some story rules:

  1. Backmatter – Before starting to write or draw anything, I needed to create some history for the story. I wrote Bios for all the characters (some are just a couple of sentences). I wanted to map out their personalities, family, age, appearance etc.
  2. Created world rules – I wrote a bit about the world these characters occupy and some of the people they may encounter. None of this was story yet – just setting the tone for the story to begin. 
  3. Story – What is the progression or story arc – the last thing I did was decide how the story would progress. I took my basic outline and mapped the major events of the story. The details were few, just the big events/beats that led to the story’s end.  I wanted the outline to provide the major things going on and allow for character development along the way.

                 An example of this for Rancidville’s first two chapters goes like this:

                      I. Nathaniel moves with his uncle to a Junk Yard

                      II. Nathaniel meets Shane and Alice

                      III. The trio discover Nathaniel’s mother’s Journal

                      IV. The Trio confronts the Guardian

                      V. A conspiracy is discovered within the town council/guardian.

 

With that, I was ready to write the script.

Until next time, stay positive and keep creating.