Comic Script Writing 101 Part III

by Matt Russell - Posted 2 weeks ago

   

Welcome back friends and neighbors. I wanted to just jump right in today. If you haven't had the chance, check out part 1 and Part 2 of writing a comic script.

With that, let's jump in.

Comic Script Format

We finally get to the meat and potatoes of the script format. This is what I typically use, and what Hunter is written in. I have seen comics written in movie script format, but I typically don’t. For this, I will be explaining everything in Microsoft Word although you can easily write it in Google Docs or Apple’s Pages App.

Header and Footer in Your Comic

In the “Insert” tab, add the Header. This is the title and Issue Number of your Comic. I used “Hunter Issue #1”. For simplicity, I centered this.

Also in the “Insert” tab, is the footer. I added the copyright information as well as the writer. So it looks like the following:

Copyright: Matt Russell 2005
Written By: M. Scott Russell

Numbering Your Comic Pages

Now some writers like to do 1-page per...well...page. I don’t. I hate wasting paper in case it has to be printed out.

Since everything has already been planned out, I don’t have to worry about pacing. I pick the page layout and run with it. For some examples of some good page layouts, head over to Deviant Art and check out these examples.

DeviantArt

At the top of the page, I will type Page number and amount of panels in all caps. It will look like this…

PAGE ONE: FOUR PANELS

Under this is the panel number with the description underneath. I do this for all panels. Don’t add the dialog until you finish the page.

PANEL ONE:
A man (in what would have been a nice suit but is now covered in blood and is ripped) walks into a cathedral with a severed hand (the hand has a strange symbol on it). He is holding the severed hand up to a Catholic Cardinal.

PANEL TWO:
The Cardinal is leading him into a back room. The man is putting on this ceremonial robe and hood.

PANEL THREE:
The Cardinal then leads him into a secret hallway with an armed guard. The man shows the guard his ring. You can’t see it now but the ring is golden and has the Masonic Compass on it.

PANEL FOUR:
He passes the guards into the room.

PAGE TWO: SPLASH PAGE

FYI: A splash page is a single page with no panels. I guess, the entire thing is 1 panel.

Adding Dialog

Unfortunately, the first page has no dialog. I will have to show you another page.

To add dialog, I like to make a table. In this first example, only one person is talking. Your cursor should be on the next line AFTER your panel description. Go back up to the “Insert” tab and add a table that is 2X1.

In the first column, write the name of the person speaking. In the second, add what you want them to say. Keep in mind some artwork will get covered up so don’t go overboard on the dialog.

Remember that we usually have the dialog in all caps. For more information on that, see my post on lettering.

I also like to indent the table that I created for dialog in 1 inch on both sides. This makes it stand out easier.

PAGE SIX: TWO PANELS

PANEL ONE:
Richard is crouched down with one hand on the ground and is pointing to some bushes off in the distance. The midday sun is beaming down on him as he crouches. His hand is touching the ground in the middle of the park next to some bushes and a park bench.

RICHARD:
Wolf tracks. They go this way. From the looks of it, there were 3 of them.

If more than one person is speaking just add to the table like in the following panel where we see a little back and forth.

PANEL TWO:
Under the bush, there is a dead dog. It has 2 puncture wounds on the neck. The dog looks drained of blood and shriveled up. Richard is still kneeling down but this time Father Douglass is in the wider shot. He is holding a notepad and writing something down.

RICHARD:
I was wrong. Chupacabras. I hate those damn things.
FATHER DOUGLASS:
They don’t come this far northeast. Don’t they mostly stay in Central America? Wait, their existence hasn’t even been proven!
RICHARD:
I’ve run into them a few times. There is even a hunter who has a few as pets. He’s working in France now. A few years ago their existence was made public when some Texas farmer killed one. Trust me, they’re real.

Sound Effects and Caption Boxes in Your Comic

To add a Caption box or a Sound Effect is the exact same method of adding dialog. Just add this under the dialog like such.

PAGE SEVEN: TWO PANELS

PANEL ONE:
Richard and Father Douglass are looking at a nice apartment building. There are cops out front. Both of them are eating a burger with the wrapper half off.

RICHARD:
So, this is it?
FATHER DOUGLASS:
Yep. As far as we can tell, he's still up there.
RICHARD:
Looks like he's got some company.
BOX #1:
LATER THAT NIGHT.

Hints on Writing a Good Script

Panel Activity in Your Comic

You must keep in mind that every panel is just a single snapshot. Do not write movement in a panel. For example:

Bad

Panel 1:
Batman flies through the window landing on his feet in a sprint.

Good

Panel 1:
Batman flies through the window. Glass is flying in every direction.

Panel 2:
Batman lands on the dock. One knee is down and the other leg is straight as if he is about to run.

Panel 3:
Batman is running down the dock.

Disguises in Your Comic

Artists can be a fickle beast. They generally don’t like surprises. It is for this reason that if there is a surprise reveal coming, they want to know in advance.

If your character is in disguise, make sure that the artist knows ahead of time. It might affect the character’s physique. Let’s say a character like Batman (I’m picking on him a lot here for some reason) is dressed as a woman. If the artist doesn’t know this, he might draw Batman with a woman’s build. This won’t make sense when he takes off the mask to reveal that he is Batman.

Try something like this from the first issue of Hunter:

PAGE TEN: THREE PANELS

PANEL ONE:
Congressman Burns is standing outside the police headquarters at a press conference. There is a large crowd. There is a very rich looking older man (60 years of age) standing behind the Congressman. This is one of the elders in the church of the 12. In the crowd dressed in a nice suit is a blond clean-cut reporter. The reporter is really Richard in disguise. The cameraman standing behind Richard is Father Douglass dressed in stress clothes and a baseball cap on backward.

Burns
It’s a tragedy that my campaign manager has met with such horrific circumstances. My staff and I have made it quite clear that we will be working with police on this matter until it is resolved, and his killer is brought to justice. Rest assured that WE will NOT rest until we can bring PEACE to his family and loved ones

PANEL TWO:
A reporter with blond clean-cut hair (Richard) and a nice (not expensive) suit and a cameraman (Father Douglass) are asking a question.

REPORTER:
According to our sources he was working on a “Project Excelsior” before his murder. What can you tell us about this project, and did it lead to his death?

PANEL THREE:
Burns looks upset. The elder from the church of the 12 has his hand on the Congressman’s shoulder.

BURNS
A have no comment on that matter. All further releases of information will be handled through the mayor’s office. We need the police to be able to work quickly and unabridged in this delicate matter. We have been asked to pass all of our findings to the fine officers of New York. That is all I can tell you at this time. Thank you.
ELDER:
That’s all for today people! No more questions!

As you can see, I clearly indicate the relationships between the characters long before it is revealed to the reader. This way, the artist will be able to write everything accordingly.

Now that was my in-depth look into formatting and writing your comic script. Stay tuned when we talk about storyboarding for your artist. Don’t worry, you won’t have to be an artist to convey your ideas.

Until next time, check out some of the amazing comics that we have on our marketplace. Get inspired. Get creative. We will see you next time. Take care and much love.