By Jim Zub April 12, 2012
Last blogpost I talked about the preparatory work that went into writing Sky Kid: broad story planning, brainstorming scenes, researching the game and World War I history and then plotting the major “beats” that encompass each strip, making sure that each one advances things forward bit by bit.
Once all that pre-work is done, it’s time to get to scripting. Comic scripting is not as highly regimented as movie/TV scripts, every writer I know has their own style and approach. Some are very exact in what they ask for and others leave a lot of the storytelling choices up to the artist to decide. The common element between all the formats is that a writer needs to communicate the action and, ideally, inspire the artist to make the most of the material in the story and push it to even higher heights. That’s the plan, anyways. :D
Here’s a sample script from Sky Kid to show you what I mean:
STRIP 01 – Wings of Adventure
Our story begins right in the midst of wild action and adventure. Blue Max is arcing his tri-plane out of a dive, jinking away from a Green Crow biplane chasing after him and firing its guns. Make it dramatic and eye-catching, this is the start of everything!
Oh~ no you don’t!
The first word I ever spoke wasn’t “Momma” or “Dadda”… it was “fly”.
Close up of Max. His expression is neutral (he rarely smiles). He’s concentrating on the intense flying at hand.
The day I turned 7 years old, the Wren Bros. took their first flight
at Kitty Hawk, North Catolina.
Max maneuvers again, pulling off more exciting air acrobatics. If we can see the enemy plane, it’s trying to keep up but not very well.
When the “War to End All Wars” started in 1914, I had to enlist.
Do my part. Be a real bird, not an egg clinger.
Max tilts his tri-plane and heads into a grouping of thick clouds, his wings just starting to slice into the pillowy surface, leaving streaks.
That’s what I told everyone, anyways.
Truth is I’d do anything to get my feathers into a flyin’plane.
As you can see, the script isn’t super-detailed, but there’s a brisk description of each panel identifying the key components needed for the artist to visualize what’s happening and where everything’s taking place. It’s specific while still leaving room for the artist to add their own flare to the scene in terms of angle, panel size and focal point. I’ve personally found that the best scripts read like someone excitedly relating a story to you, moving the artist through the scenes without getting bogged down in little stuff that’s not as important.
In my next blog post I’ll talk specifically about dialogue and the difference between scripting for comic books and comic strips.