So You Want to Write Comics, Huh?

The first thing you have to ask yourself is do you have the time to devote yourself to this project? Because it may seem as easy as writing something down and letting things run its course, but I can tell you firsthand that it’s way more difficult than you think.

I got the wild idea to write a comic back in December of 2016. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to do and had a general outline of how I wanted the first entry to pan out and where it would take the story into continuing issues. Outlining a plot seemed easy enough but the real challenge began when I had to layout my characters. Who were these people going to be? What did the look like? What did they sound like? And most importantly, what was their purpose in this story? This became the hardest part of writing a comic for me. I had to find a voice for every character and make sure it wasn’t just a slightly different version of someone else or a blatant rip off of a character I liked in another book. They had to have their own style, their own dialect, and their own personality. Character development, especially in crime comics, is key to keeping the story from going stagnant and becoming predictable.

After I had basic descriptions of what I wanted everyone to look like and sound like, it was time to figure out where to start my story and how to keep the flow consistent and in order. You would think telling a story of your own would just write itself but there’s so many things you have to consider. You’re thinking of the reasoning and motives for numerous people in a setting that you may not be totally familiar with. It can become a jumbled mess unless you take time to carefully craft where you want the story to go. I thought that just sitting down and writing would turn out a great product and it turns out that isn’t always the case. You have to keep an eye on yourself to make sure you aren’t straying away from your original idea because it’s very easy to get lost along the way and have something not match up in the end because you were on a roll with a whole other idea.

I was lucky enough to find an artist that was willing to work within my budget because if you’re expecting to find someone who will do the art of your book for free, you’re going to have a bad time and some not so great artwork accompanying your story. The key to working with an artist is constant communication and collaboration. I was emailing my artist a few times a day with different ideas on how characters should look and elaborating on parts of the script that need more depth. I had a script of about 6 pages done before I started shopping around for an artist through various websites and I finally found someone who fit the style I was going for and was willing to work with me for what little money I had. We began shaping the story together and basically wrote and drew the pages as they were coming out of my head. It was going fine until I hit a roadblock which was running out of funds to continue paying the artist. To make sure my book saw the light of day I had to do something I never intended on doing and that was crowdfunding.

I had seen many writers and artists use GoFundMe in the past to release their book but something just never sat right with me about using it, but I was getting desperate. I set up my GoFundMe with a modest goal in mind that would cover the remainder of the art, the lettering, and the possibility that we’d be self publishing this book through a print shop. The key to a successful GoFundMe is promotion. I posted about it nearly everywhere I could and received donations from friends, family, and strangers who wanted to see the book come out. You’re going to be met with criticism but you have to take it in stride and continue to press on. Don’t let some random person on the internet deter you from getting this done.

After the script was finished and the artwork was done, I was lucky enough to find a letterer who was willing to do my book for a very small fee. I waited a few weeks for the lettering to be finished and began converting the finished product to PDF’s after we made sure all of the initial editing was taken care of and there were no mistakes with with story.

This is when things became increasingly more difficult.

There are hundreds if not thousands of small publishers out there that are taking submissions for new talent and you have to make yourself stand out the best you can if you want someone to release your work. I took to the internet and emailed any and all publishers that I thought would be interested in our book and after dozens of rejections, no responses and Twitter DM’s we finally found a home at a small press company in California who had been following the book since the GoFundMe. We chatted back and forth for a number of weeks while I set up small convention appearances to promote the book as well as ordered some promotional items for these shows and it looked as if things were going to finally work out. Well, just like a lot of things in comics, it all fell apart at the last minute due to funding issues with the publisher and a lack of communication. Not wanting to admit defeat, I gathered up what little we had left from the GoFundMe and ended up pressing copies ourselves through a comics printing company on the East Coast.

When the books arrived my first instinct was to get them to local shops as soon as humanly possible. So I hit up a few local shops and sold them on consignment and a few just bought them outright. Even with the major headache that self releasing a comic caused, there’s nothing cooler than holding the finished product and just seeing all of that work in your hands.

I managed to write and release a comic all within 3 months of even having the idea. I don’t say that as a brag, but as a way of saying that you can do this if you really want to. All you need is an idea and the willingness to see it come to fruition. I only wrote the one issue, but I can say that yeah, it was a pain but at the end of the day I fulfilled a goal of mine and I’m very proud of the outcome.

It’s 2018. Go out and write a comic.

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