Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How To Write Comics

Old news. But still. Warren Ellis on how Joss Whedon learned to write comics and how you can,too:

"I met Joss Whedon once. He told me he learned to write comics by studying some Alan Moore scripts his editor provided to him. They scared the hell out of him, as I recall. Alan writes massive scripts. I mean, he's got his own hole in a forest somewhere, and it's a mile across and denuded of anything that can be pulped into paper. Now go and read one of Joss' comics -- or use Bit Torrent to steal it off the internet, the way I did. (It's okay -- I was going to get Marvel to send me a copy, so I wasn't going to pay for it anyway.) (Yeah, yeah. Shut up.) It doesn't read like Alan's work, does it? He took what he needed from it -- how to pace comics, how to isolate moments, when to punch and when to go quiet -- and put his own voice on top of it. That's how to do it. Joss went on from that meeting to write an introduction to a Planetary collection wherein he made fun of my beard. And Alan's."

And something for artists to chew on as well. Same source.

"When Watchmen was released, comics companies were deluged with submissions done in nine-panel grid featuring vigilantes who say "Hurm" a lot. Seriously. This was still happening by the time I got into the business, and I saw some. No-one, however, wanted a crack at creating the kind of huge complex structures and relationships of Watchmen. No-one used the tools to went their way in and out of people's lives like Alan Moore, and no-one used the frame like Dave Gibbons. They just lifted the surface. This is how it always goes with the big influential works. Too few people look at the guts of a thing. You don't get to be Frank Miller by drawing a nice picture of Daredevil. You get to be Frank Miller by spending ten years studying Will Eisner and B Krigstein pages and working out for yourself just what makes them good."

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