By Jim Zub April 03, 2012
I hope you’ve enjoyed a few of our “story flavour posts”, broadening the world of Sky Kid a bit with back story to the anthropomorphic world and the bigger war drama unfolding in the background. I wanted to take a short break from that and talk a bit about planning stories and writing comics. A lot of people ask me how this stuff gets done and, although there’s no one “true” method, it’s always nice to hear about how people work and their methodology.
Before I start on any writing project, I dig in on research. The more I know about the subject matter and better acquainted I am with the kind of material I’m working with, the easier it is to come up with ideas that will work well together. In the case of Sky Kid that meant reading up on World War I, the dawn of aviation and also watching quite a few game play videos of the original video game. Even though Sky Kid was a straight forward 8-bit arcade game with simple goals and controls, I wanted to see if there were any elements that could prove useful to me as I dug in on the new storyline.
Marrying arcade game play and cartoony animal characters with the real-life drama that was World War I sounds a bit crazy, but I think that juxtaposition is exactly what makes our version of Sky Kid something different and engaging. There’s a cartoonish charm to the action but the characters take their roles seriously and there’s a bigger plot playing out all around them. The expressive characters make our big and bombastic war story really clear.
Once that research phase was done (well, not done per se, the research thing really never ends when you’re writing, but the initial research) I moved on to planning the bigger plot. Sky Kid “season one” has two major action sequences that sandwich a slower character interaction scene in the middle. It opens flashy and ends flashy, with some drama in the middle so readers can learn more about who these characters are and what motivates them, as well as see what life is like on the military base. It’s a simple structure but works well to introduce people to this animal world during wartime.
The broad plot goals give way to the individual “beats” of each strip. I go through and plan out what major things need to happen in each strip to get us through the big plot. It’s usually a one sentence description of what each strip will be so that I know what my goals are and how it fits into the big picture. That becomes the “skeleton” of the story and a guide as I’m working.
In my next blog post I’ll take you through the writing process with a specific strip in our archives so you can see how I work