Bad news first: there are no lone-wolf comic book writers because all efforts are collaborative. You’ll always be at a competitive disadvantage because there’s always new talent coming in. You might think you’re the world’s authority on Captain America, but you can’t just submit a pile of stories about him to Marvel and think you’re ready to write for comics.
The good news: the industry is always looking for new talent.
The better news: Brian Michael Bendis has written Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels to help send you on your way.
Eisner-Award winning Bendis, who has written for The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, Uncanny X-Men, and Guardians of the Galaxy, has created a handsome how-to book that’s not only full of practical advice on writing scripts for comics but also contains tips directly from well-known editors, artists, and other writers. It has case studies of taking a book from script to final art flat, editor and artist profiles, a glossary of business and rights terms, several challenging writing exercises, and lots of lovely artwork from the best of the industry’s artists.
Bendis guides you through all the comic-book writing phases with examples of each: the pitch document, the script itself (either full script, which breaks down action and dialogue by pages and panels, or Marvel-style, a summary of actions in the book where the writer completes the dialog after the pages are drawn), and what happens afterward: artwork, inking, lettering, then coloring. He gives us a glance under the hood, so to speak, showing how a two-page spread of an issue of Spider-Man go from full script to thumbnail art, then to finished art, inks, letters, and colors. It’s as close to hands-on as you can get without actually wiping the ink from your fingers.
Throughout the book, Bendis stresses two points.
First, if you are a writer you are in business, and you need to treat your craft like a business. You need to track your time and money, and you need to retain the services of a good entertainment lawyer and an accountant. There’s no way around it.
Second, collaboration with the artist other talent is paramount in producing a good book. As a writer, your primary audience are the artists who will spend the time to draw what you describe. Communicating with the artist (as well as the colorist and letterer) and exchanging constructive feedback is key to a successful collaborative relationship, which always leads to a great comic.
Loaded with wisdom from Bendis himself and many others in the industry, Words for Pictures is a full-color investment to help you start the next successful comic book.