The 'correct' way to lay out a script for your comic book depends on what you're writing and who you're writing for. Find out what you need to bear in mind for the sake of you and your creative team.
This piece on how I format a comic script (and – most importantly – why I format it the way I do) was one of the most popular posts on this blog. But since writing it back in 2013, my comics scripting has evolved quite a bit. So it seemed only right that I update it.
For reference, I’ll be using the script for a Black Beth story published in Rebellion’s Scream & Misty 2020 Special with brooding black-and-white art by the incredible Greek artist Dani. I’d worked with Dani several times before, so do bear in mind that I could allow myself to be a bit less formal here than if I were sending this to an editor cold.
We good? Okay, let’s go…
Some General Thoughts
A comic script is ultimately a very hands-off way of writing a story – certainly when you’re writing ‘full script’ as I do for 2000 AD, and, well, pretty much every comic I’ve worked on over the last fifteen years. (The other general method of scripting a comic is ‘Marvel Style.’)
Getting to tinker with dialogue or sound effects further down the line is a luxury rarely afforded when writing full script. Once I’ve written the script, rewritten it and had it signed-off by the editor, I invoice the thing and start writing something else. By the time that script sees print as the finished comic, I’m usually so immersed in another story that I’ll have forgotten pretty much everything about the last one!
I might get to see designs, panel layouts or finished pages as they come in. I might not. Depends on the artist’s disposition, whether or not I’m in contact with them, and how tight the production schedule might be. I’ll often never hear from a story again until it’s been turned into a comic.
Should that be the case, I always make sure the artist, letterer and editor have got everything they need from me in a single document. I’ll add hyperlinks to certain bits of reference, emotional directions for the characters, any notes about specific lettering, etc., just to make sure everyone’s got what they need to build the story without me...
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