In the past, I’ve written about the origins of our charity projects but I’ll post another refresher here: After meeting at Hal-Con 2010, Peter Chiykowski and I wanted to work together on something. A few other new friends from that show expressed interest and we thought about killing one bird with one stone. Fast-forward to 2011 and the release of What the Wild Things Read. With a tightened focus and many more contributors, we came back even stronger in 2012 with Fearsome Fables.
The reason I’m spilling some more ink about these projects is that this week, we are extending invitations to what we’re calling ‘legacy contributors’ or those who have already been a part of the Ink’d Well Comics charity anthologies. After that, we’ll be armed with new information to help recruit new talent.
This also brings me to something that may or may not be surprising to you, dear reader: Organizing a project like this isn’t easy.
Sure, pitching a charity anthology with dozens of independent, mostly Canadian talent tends to be pretty successful as we hit conventions or advertise at shops. The thing to remember is that assembling the contributors is only the first step. Then, we need to make sure people actually deliver the art… and deliver it on time.
Sometimes, people need lots of reminders. After learning our lesson the hard way in 2011, we enforced things a bit stricter in 2012. This was mostly due to the need to print earlier, a fact that was outside of our control. For 2013, we are on a slightly more comfortable schedule but it is still tight. If people are late, we have to move forward and it is just a publishing fact of life.
Presuming the content was submitted on time (and that is an easy presumption when we are blessed with such dedicated, generous people as we have been), the next stage is the editing process. Aside from something embedded in the art, Photoshop is our best friend as we can adjust something minor to avoid hassling the artist again. Prose writers and poets are kind enough to submit RTF files, which also cuts a lot of give-and-go time. I shudder to think how people had to work in the days before computers!
Once the edits are complete, we must lay out the book in a manner that makes sense. Little details, ones no one spots when they’re present but certainly notice when they’re not (e.g. page numbers, table of contents, back cover, etc.)
So, we have a shiny exported file and are ready to go to the printer. We contacted them a while back and prepped them on things and have a quote. Now, we submit and approve the proofs. This is all easy if you’ve worked with the shop in the past. Otherwise, this step alone may be an extra week or two longer than expected. That’s time that sometimes, you just don’t have – this was certainly the case for us in 2012, but our printer really came through for us. We’re lucky to have a few excellent printers in our current rotation.
Anyhow, the books have been printed and you have hooked up your contributors with their copies, as well as any who pre-ordered copies. This is something we changed from the past few years: The goal is to maximize charitable impact and anything we can do to accomplish this, we will certainly pursue. In the last two years, we spent an additional (approximate) $800 on operating costs that we’ll hopefully avoid, for the most part, this time out.
Finally, the book is ready to launch. You need to sell the concept to people, promote it effectively and then sit back and ask yourself an important question: Was the stress of the past few months worth it all in the end?
The answer is always the same: Absolutely.
On February 14, I saw this picture posted on the Strange Adventures wall, along with the caption: “‘Teacher this funny!’ – official review of Fearsome Fables from a grade 1 class of Korean children.”
I couldn’t believe my eyes, and needed to learn more.
Tylor Perry has been teaching in Korea these past few years. He recently received a care package from his folks. It turns out his brother bought a copy of the book and his mom knows a relative of one of our contributors (Gus Webb, who also signed it).
Tylor said that the comic is a reward for his students after a good day.
Thanks to Tylor for allowing us to post this. I hope you and your students continue to enjoy Fearsome Fables!
Courtesy of our pal and frequent collaborator, Ariel Marsh, here are some Ink’d Well Comics valentines!
It’s our way to give back to all the supportive people who have allowed us to keep at this whole ‘comic thing.’
We kicked things off with someone running a red light and smashing into my wife. Thankfully, she’s all right. Our car isn’t. So now, we play the waiting game. It sounds like repairs are possible (and they’re definitely fully covered by the other person’s insurance) but it’s still annoying.</p?
All three of us have battled fevers, chills, sweats and the other fun things that accompany illnesses. For the first week of the month, I think we were all sleeping 16 hours a day. Even then, we probably could have used more. My poor wife spent her birthday wrapped up in two blankets and, for the most part, asleep.
At least the massive snowstorm didn’t turn out to be all that much of a nuisance for us. In fact, it made everything rather beautiful. Our illnesses are little more than a nagging cough. Furthermore, we received word that our car should be ready in a few days.
Maybe this month won’t be so bad anyhow.
Here’s a not-so-secret from the world of funny books: Unlike movies, television, theatre, radio plays and nearly everything else, there is not standard template for comic scripts.
My original scripts for Messiah (2002-ish) were adapted from the MS Word script template… um, yeah. The revised editions (that resemble the eventual printed books, rather than the first trainwreck) were heavily modified from the examples in the DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics. Faces was nothing fancy: Each sentence was a line in my first note-making software, Omni Outliner. Aside from a few meter adjustments, what you saw is pretty much what I first wrote.
Sci-Fact Comics, which I touched on in a different entry, was originally meant to be a full story centred on Pluto’s declassification as a planet. Nonetheless, I built an entirely new script template for this in MS Word – eventually recreated as an even fuller template in MovieMagic Screenwriter, where I also wrote Infantasy with very little tweaks.
Beginning with Super Galactic Space Explorers, and extended to Emma Awesome and some unannounced projects, I have used a piece of software called Scrivener. Honestly, I receive nothing for my mention of these applications and am only suggesting them because they’ve worked for me. If something else works for you, fantastic! Anyhow, back on point, I absolutely love Scrivener now but it’s a little daunting when you first open the application. Check out the brilliant tutorial by another comic scribe, Antony Johnston. It’ll help get you set up. Before long, you’ll modify the template to fit your own needs. Find it here: http://www.antonyjohnston.com/articles/scriveningcomics.php.
So you’ve learned that there is no accepted format but respected templates. Are there any other rules at all or is it like the Wild West? Yes, there are some. The ‘Recommended’ section is wholly my own but has worked for me. As long as you follow the four ‘Critical’ points – ones nearly any comic scribe will adhere to – you’re probably safe.
- Secrets: The public will, in all likelihood, never read your script. Don’t fill it with clever twists and secret reveals – this will make your editor and artist hate you. If you are editing it yourself, stop that foolishness now and find someone trustworthy. If you are drawing it yourself, it is still a good idea to be cognizant of this rule in case you ever work with a collaborator down the line.
- Pacing 01: Your script should detail what happens on each page, either generally or specifically (i.e. panel-by-panel). I’ve seen comic scripts that are almost like narrative prose where scenes will go on for pages. How in the world will you ever know if your comic flows if you don’t plot things out properly? Furthermore, if your script essentially features every idea you have in your head, your story is improperly paced.
- Important story points: If you have something absolutely essential to the story (e.g. a character quirk, an angle, or a background detail), be sure to mention this in your script. Artists are skilled at their craft and are tasked with adapting your descriptive storytelling into a visual form. Tying in with the above points, how are they supposed to know what is necessary if you do not make things clear?
- Tonal shifts: You may prefer to write the dialogue after you see the art. That’s fine, but have a general idea of what the characters are supposed to say. Otherwise, there may be serious differences in tone that confuse and put off readers.
- Visual storytelling: Talk with the artist and learn how they prefer to work. In addition to your own style guide, be sure to include anything possible to help bring out the best in your collaborator and make their lives easier. Depending on how well you know the artist, this could be moved up to critical, or down (i.e. you know each other’s methods so well, your scripts are already catered to their needs).
- Pacing 02: In addition to the notes above, you may wish to sketch out things in the margin/white space so that the artist has an idea how you envision things. A picture is worth a thousand words, so think of this as a way to keep your word count lower!
- Performance art: You don’t need a Hollywood budget, just some friends (order some food as thanks!) and a near-complete version of your script. Act out, or simply read aloud and pinpoint the highs and lows of your work. Keep things as serious as possible lest emotional weight in scenes be lost.
There are other things that aren’t rules or recommendations but rather suggestions, but those really are subjective (e.g. “edit after each pass” or “it’s never too late to kill a bad idea”).
Maybe I’ll save those for another time. You’ve read enough, after all, and it’s high time you get back to writing.
Edit: Now with pictures!
Here are two images, one before and one after, from Emma Awesome.
Note that a fair amount has remained and, unlike a lot of my comics, most of the dialogue is the same. I always treat my scripts as a near-final version because you never know how things will truly fit and flow until you have the art.
While we disagree a bit on whether or not Writer’s Block exists (I feel it does, in a manner of speaking), I agree with Matthew on the concept of Writer’s Procrastination.
On the 14th, I had this brilliant idea for an entry. I sat down, made some notes and set it aside. My daughter’s birthday was the next day and I wanted to wait until after before getting down to business. Toss in a cold I’ve been battling for the past week and, well, the timing was poor.
On the 16th, I sat down and looked over my notes and the entry came together easily. I didn’t post it just yet, for whatever reason. Maybe fate was tugging at my shoulder, since I soon came across a fresh editorial touching on the precise same notes — this on a website with millions of daily readers.
Undeterred, I scavenged my original piece and took some great points away. By the next night, I had a new entry whipped up… until I read a similar article on my tablet as I sat in bed not two hours later.
Here I am today, moaning about the fact that I didn’t have anything to write and turned it into something. Clever.
The real reason I’m touching on this is that it ties into my creative life as well: No matter how much time we spend online or absorbing material, and believe we have hit upon something unique, there’s bound to be someone somewhere who has already done so. Heck, even this idea is not unique: “Nothing is original,” stated Jim Jarmusch.
I ran across this a few months back with an unannounced project. Despite myself and the co-creator being fairly knowledgeable in both mainstream (he’s like a walking encyclopedia) and indie books, we somehow missed a recent, similarly titled book from the third largest American published that was created and drawn by an industry legend. Thankfully, the only similarities seem to be the title and that it’s a comic book. Nonetheless, I’m sure it won’t be the last time my work abuts another’s.
Some folks may point to the existence of the internet and say, “How could you not know?” To this, I ask: Have ever tried finding something one day and failed, only to discover it when you least expect it? Well, multiply that by and endless stream of numbers and it’s the state of the internet. A whole lotta nothin’.
Back on point, it’s inevitable that we’ll come up with something unoriginal so just soldier on and make do with what you have. That’s what I did today!