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Writing a comic book – sketching and panels.

I decided that I want to create a comic book a few years ago. This is my 4th blog about the process I am undergoing. I had no previous experience of writing for a comic book so this is also part of my learning process.

Last time I talked about how I undertook writing the script. So, when it comes to sketching my comic, I thought that I could cram loads of panels into each page. After all, I am paying for each page so I honestly thought that I could save some cash by having more on each page. 

I looked at various panel layouts on Reddit and Google images for inspiration, but it wasn’t until I began sketching that I realised I couldn’t just cram in 16 panels on one page and hope it would be fine. It’s not fine. It’s crap. It looks rubbish and I’d need to significantly reduce my font size for dialogue, you’d need a magnifying glass to read it and that would just be ultra crap.

So, it really depends on what’s happening in the story, but I’d say anything up to 6 panels per comic book page is fine. I could have more. 9 panels might be fine in a non-action scene, but it would start to get crowded with dialogue and visually not very interesting, and I want the reader to be engaged and feel comfortable when reading.

The panel configuration is also interesting and important. Think of reading as a zig zag motion from the top of the page to the bottom. 4 equally sized panels would be easy to follow. 5 panels configured in a strange way might confuse the reader. But my artist will advise me accordingly if I’m way off the mark.

The other thing I now consider when I’m sketching is the size of each panel in relation to what’s happening in the story. The comic book panel size indicates how much you want to emphasize that particular part of the story. For example, a slow-paced non-action scene may have smaller panels. Conversely, a fight scene between multiple characters may be best displayed in a splash page across one or two pages. I have sketched a splash page for the introduction for my comic. A splash page could also be half a page. In essence, I have a ton of freedom to do whatever I want. If I go too crazy, my artist will tell me.

I also found it is essential that I listen to my artist. He has the experience and will spot any flaws just like an editor would. I see every sketch I do as another draft so I’m not precious about changing things if necessary and two heads are better than one. 

In my next blog, I’ll talk about writing your script in conjunction with your sketches. I hope you found this useful.

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