Saurav Mohapatra Presents:
My name is Saurav Mohapatra and I am a comic book writer just starting out. I currently write three monthlies for Virgin Comics (DEVI, SADHU : The Silent Ones and DEEPAK CHOPRA presents INDIA AUTHENTIC) as part of their Shakti line.
For every aspiring writer who gets his/her first professional “gig”, it is invariably a shock to find out that almost all of what you’d been doing was … for the lack of a better word … WRONG. (I am basing this on my own experience and from some other friends who have also broken into the biz.)
For me, since I learned how to write comic books by reading other comic books (without having been aware of something called “a script”), I used to think that I can write whatever I can and the artist will take care of it. First thing I learned was “THE WRITER IS THE ONE WHO SEEDS THE VISION“. Syd Field writes in his book SCREENPLAY that the movie is born with the writer and is shaped by others like the director and the actors. That is true for comic books too.
The writer with the script establishes the sandbox for the artist and the colorist to play in. As a writer you are responsible for the genesis of the comic book and thus “with great power comes great responsibility”
Let us now analyze a couple of starting out mistakes I did in the hope that somewhere down the line this helps you side step the same pitfalls:
a) BE CONSISTENT IN YOUR FORMAT OF PRESENTATION, BE IT SYNOPSIS, PANEL BREAKDOWN or SCRIPT.
I always assumed that I shall get “another pass” before the thing got big and used to submit my first drafts with tons of typos and formatting errors etc. But as my editor pointed out to me, having a professional presentation counts. So treat every single draft as if it were the one going to the artists. Reread and format your script for legibility and weed out those evil typos.
b) ALWAYS BE VERY CLEAR IN YOUR DIRECTIONS TO THE ARTIST
My editor once told me an anecdote as to how one someone had posted a direction in a panel description as something like “his teeth were spaced like picket fences”. The artist under severe deadline pressure scanned through the script and came back with …. a panel showing a white picket fence (which needless to say was a complete non sequitor).
Imagine a glass door. It opens either in or out, so you have to either push or pull and it is written on the door what to do. But now think how many times people pull a door that is to be pushed and vice versa. Any room for interpretation is room for misinterpretation.
Be clear and concise in your directions to the artist.
I think those are the first points I wanted to share. Next time I shall try and share some things I recently learned about various grid layouts for single and double page spreads and their prospective uses.
Till then … toodles.
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