I just got back from the Amazing Arizona Con this past weekend, which was…amazing. In it's second year, it's turning into a nice regional show. Not the craziness of a mega con like San Diego or New York, but a great chance to spend some time with fans and friends.
Over the weekend, I talked with a lot of people about comic writing, and even took part in a panel on the subject. Without fail, the topic always comes up regarding format - specifically full script vs. plot style. I've written both ways over my career, and thought I'd talk a little about that. Today, let's take a look at the full script.
Full script format involves breaking down a page in terms of the individual panels. Here is an excerpt from my script for Soulfire #3 as well as the corresponding finished page:
PAGES 8 & 9 (Double Spread)
Large Panel. Maybe a wide panel across the entire double spread. We are now inside the cave again. It's the same cavern that ONYX first made her connection to the shadow magic. She has turned it into some kind of darkened throne room - creepy and wet. Tall atrium ceiling of rock. Very rough and foreboding. Other STEHORU WOMAN are in the shadows - waiting to tend to their queen.
ONYX sits atop a throne that is nothing but a rock formation that resembles a chair. She is looking upon a squad of SETHORU MEN, standing tall before her. About 20 in all. These are the best specimens of her people. And she has a plan for them.
1. Onyx: While the masses construct a kingdom outside worthy enough to be the House of Sethoru, inside we must begin the transformation.
ONYX gets to her feet, standing before the SETHORU MEN standing at attention.
2. Onyx: The time has come to finish the journey.
ONYX spreads her arms wide, calling upon the shadow magic. The SETHORU are looking to their feet as the ground beneath them begins to rumble and shake, things are coming to the surface.
3. Onyx: We lost our way to the Rahtumi because we lost sight of our heritage.
4. Onyx: We turned away from our true source of power - our shadow magic.
The SETHORU MEN flail about in horror and panic as they are suddenly attacked by a swarm of DARK BEETLES - very similar to what ONYX went through in issue #1.
5. Onyx: We must reclaim that bond. Return to our roots.
6. Sethoru Men: No! Ahhhh!
Angle on ONYX as she watches with pleasure as the SETHORU men are buried underneath a sea of DARK BEETLES.
7. Onyx: Accept who we are.
Close on ONYX. Very pleased. Ready to see the fruits of her labor.
Angle on the pile of DARK BEETLES as hands begin to emerge. They are discolored like ONYX's skin is now. This is a bit like the birth of Uruk-hai Orcs in LORD OF THE RINGS. The SETHORU MEN are being reborn in a new image - now part of the shadow magic.
8. Onyx: For this is more than a new kingdom - A new era.
|Double Spread - pages 8 & 9 from Soulfire #3. Art by Jason Fabok and John Starr.|
Whether it's plot or full script style, your script is essentially a letter to your artists, in which you try to convey the necessary information for the story, while allowing enough room for the artist to do what they do best. If I have a specific image or angle or element in mind, I might include it in the script, but I love the words "maybe" and "perhaps." It lets the artist know that they have the ability to deviate from the script or idea if they have a better idea. Obviously, the more you talk with your artist, the easier the scripting is because you'll both have an idea of what’s in store, even before the script is written.
You'll notice that I break down the panels for the page, but try to leave the overall size and placement open. This allows the artist to design the layout for the page in terms of storytelling. The panels are my way of conveying the elements of the scene, but if the artist has another idea, he or she can explore that. For this page, I had seven panels, but Jason Fabok decided to trim it to six panels to give each image more space. It all works, and still expresses everything in the script.
Next time, I'll offer an example of writing plot style.