CHRISTIAN COMIC ARTS SOCIETY :: A NETWORK OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP FOR COMICS FANS, PROS, AND AMATEURS
Hello brothers and sister in Christ!Thanks be to Jesus for His grace and mercy and giving me a nudge to write this down.While I still struggle with Captain Miracle, the problem is not drawing "the Mighty Man of God," but showing what the characters in the panel are doing. This wasn't easy for me to get into and I hope you have less difficulty. But once we're past drawing figures, trees, grass, cars, roadways, city skylines, etc., we need to effectively arrange these elements in the panel. If I'm preaching to the choir, please excuse me. Wish someone would have shared these ideas with me years ago.The only way to do that is to set up panels on a sheet of paper and start drawing out scenes. Hard to get started at first just keeping the characters inside the panels. The goal is to make the drawing interesting to the reader, without looking awkward or confusing. I think it was Mike Wieringo that emphasized it was most important to make the action and characters very clear.To help some with getting started with the whole drawing in a panel thing, I suggest going to: http://comicrazys.com/ Among some of the great stuff on this website is posting of the Famous Cartoonists Course created by the Famous Artists School back in the 1960s. A new chapter is posted every month along with other great vintage comics stuff! They are also posting the Famous Artists Course for Illustration featuring guys like Norman Rockwell, Steve Fawcett, and the great Albert Dorne.The cartooning course seems more aimed at newspaper cartooning, but the principles still work. It should give you a good starting point. Once you start drawing your panels, you have to keep them interesting. With a continuing incident (like a scene in a movie), it's best to vary the images in the panels to make it more interesting. Nothing will create boredom faster than a bunch of talking heads.I've found a great book which covers how to tell the story with film called: Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen by Steve Katz. As film is our closest cousin, the info in this book is great! It includes photos and diagrams to show how to stage different scenes. Well worth the money, this book is available from www.amazon.com and used copies are available at www.alabris.com.I recently started lettering a Jonni Star comic for John Pierce, and we ran into problems with the layout in the panels. Not enough room for word balloon placement. Also, the previous panels didn't relate well to the the following panels.There was no visual flow to the action. Think of it as watching a movie and being dumped suddenly into a scene with no smooth transition. Suddenly you're looking at a traffic accident scene (for example). What happened? How did it happen? Who hit who? This can be used for an establishing shot (we're at a different location now...), but to just jump to it in the middle of some other scene is confusing. Even for just a moment, the viewer can be confused and remembers he/she is watching a movie (or reading a comic book). This is bad.Most cartoonists will do rough layouts called thumbnails. Based on their reading of the script (or storyline) they use these to plan what happens in the first panel, and it goes from there. Very little detail is used, just enough to establish placement of characters, backgrounds, misc. objects (props), etc. This also allows them to see how the panels relate to each other and keep the flow of the action consistent.I've read that some cartoons watch old movies with the sound turned off to see how the scenes are setup and how they relate to each other. Two movie directors names mentioned often are Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Wells.Writing isn't as easy as it looks. If you don't already have a story to work with, ask some of our CCAS friends if they have scripts or storylines they will let you use to get started. Or if you have a favorite animated cartoon story you can write out the storyline from that and begin laying it out as a comic book. This process is actually the reverse of how animated cartoons are made. The important scenes are laid out as storyboards, and they look like comic book panels.I hope this info has been helpful and I haven't insulted anyone's intelligence or ability. If so, I apologize and ask your forgiveness. I also have some helpful material that I need to scan and post later. But I just wanted to get the ball rolling.God bless.

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  • Great article. I have learned the importance of keeping it interesting as well. Sometimes I have a single poster to which the entire lesson principle is there, and sometimes it is broke down into four panels. So I have to work my way through to keep it interesting. I never really thought about the importance of it, but a lesson often goes off better for me when it's in four panel design and the kids get to inter-act with it by reading the dialog.

    Thanks for posting this Jimmy, it has helped me to keep on task.

    Paul
  • Branson Boykin said:
    Thanks for the info, brother. This is an area I struggle with a lot, because I'm still new to the business. I will definitely check out the resources you have suggested. And never apologize for preaching to the choir. They need the truth just as much as anyone else. ;-)

    Hi Bro. Branson,

    Thanks for your comments and support! There's a lot of stuff I have to scan and share, besides working on other projects. I've been blessed to be retired from USDA where I was a computer support guy and later, a website administrator (managed the server... no big deal just sounds cool).

    I share this to let you know that I am pretty well versed in most of the electronic publishing applications (Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc.). Should you or any brothers/sisters in Christ need help, I'd be glad to do whatever I can. Please feel free to ask away! If I don't have an answer, I'll get one for you!

    Keep drawing and stay strong in the Lord and in the Power of His Might!

    God bless
  • Just read your discussion on storytelling,bro.A job well done.It was thorough and concise.The subject never gets tired because it's so essential if you want to produce a good convincing comic book.My first experience with learning storytelling and layout was over 25 years ago with John Buscema's "How to draw comics the Marvel way".Since then I've still learned more angles and approaches to getting the job done right in that respect.We still need to hear it over and over to keep it fresh in our thinking from time to time.Good work.
  • Thanks for the info, brother. This is an area I struggle with a lot, because I'm still new to the business. I will definitely check out the resources you have suggested. And never apologize for preaching to the choir. They need the truth just as much as anyone else. ;-)
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