Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Marra Method: Traditional Comics Techniques for Visual Storytelling | 4. Write an Outline. Then Draw the Pictures and Write the Words Next.

An on-going, evolving series collecting my thoughts on the craft of telling stories through comic books. These posts do not document rules; these are the ideas passing through my mind when I'm making comic books.

4. Write an Outline. Then Draw the Pictures and Write the Words Next.

• If memory serves, Joe Casey got his outline method from Stephen Grant, who said, everything that takes place on the page of a comic can be told in one sentence.

• You may use two short sentences for one comic book page in outlines, but the "one sentence = one comic book page" is a good formula.

• Make a list of page numbers on the left side and then write the sentence of what occurs on each page.

• Sketch out the page layouts in 6" x 9" boxes (approximately printed size), telling the story with the pictures first.

• Convey, using pictures, the narrative information that is to take place on each page based on the sentences written in the outline.

• Then use the pictures in the layouts to inspire the words, writing them in the space you've provided: caption descriptions, speech balloons, thought balloons and sound effects.

• Comics should not be made from a prose script. In addition to delivering narrative information, the words on the page are a design element and the space they occupy MUST be accounted for as they are written. In employing prose script—like a play or screenplay—the comic writer cannot visualize the necessary space the words occupy on the page.

• A prose script gives undue superiority to the words in comics, when they must work in unison for the benefit of the Story. Comic book writers must draw the layouts of the pages.

• I do not see how any comic books could be successful any other way.
- (Side thought: Did Alan Moore provide Dave Gibbons with layouts for Watchmen? I know he did for Bart Sears in the Violator limited series).

• The Marvel Method is my evidence against prose scripts and for drawing pictures first, then entering words, in creating comic books. The Kirby/Lee collaboration, particularly on their Fantastic Four run, are perfect comic books.

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