Writing Comics Short and Long – As Long as They Are Weird!
My favorite genres are horror, science fiction, fantasy, and humor, so most all my stories have one or more of those elements.
Sometimes ideas come from dreams. In fact, sometimes I dream I’m reading a story or watching a show which I think has a great idea or punchline and I go damn, why couldn’t I think of that? Then I realize I’m dreaming and it’s like… hey, wait a minute, this is my dream and therefore I DID think of that! Sometimes the ideas are even good the next day.
When approaching a story I do different things. Sometimes there’s a genre I haven’t tried yet. Like Walking Dead/Zombies, ghost stories by a campfire, an alien invasion, mad scientist, time travel, haunted house, pet shop, demonic possession, a Lovecraftian Elder God menace—or something humorous like “what if everybody had a super power?”, etc. I think about the ones I’ve observed and see if anything jumps out at me that feels like a new twist on that theme. Always useful: an interesting opening to get me going and hook a reader.
There have to be enough characters and locations to keep the tale moving and engaging. Strong visuals always appeal to me; I can figure out how to justify them as I go.
I also think about stories when I visit interesting places. For instance, when in upstate New York several years ago, I noticed somebody was ice fishing on the little local lake, and had chopped a hole in the surface to do it. I looked at the hole and thought: when the ice melts, this hole will vanish but what if NEXT year, when ice covers the lake again, the hole is still there? That would be weird. Why might then happen? And that led to a ghost story called One Below, which appeared in one of my Morbid photo comic collections. The Natural History Museum, an old graveyard, or a big aquarium might also furnish inspiration.
A story has to be exciting to draw. This usually involves monsters for me—new monsters I create, rather than serial killer types or vampires, etc. That’s a challenge… but a fun challenge! I think readers appreciate innovative stuff.
I like to thumbnail the story out first in pencil, figuring out the plot and cool shots. Then I scan that, chop it up into pages and think about dialog and captions, leaving everything flexible—because new ideas pop up in my “process” all the time, so I’m able to modify the plot and so on as I go.
Research is sometimes necessary both for facts and visuals. The last thing I want to draw might be an army of cops or soldiers rushing into a big battle with weapons and vehicles, but it all comes from what the story needs. If the story demands something like that, I do my best to make it happen and look decent.
One other important thing: every story needs a good ending, something that readers won’t expect and, uh oh, here it comes! I better jum….