Tuesday, December 05, 2006

A long, boring post about writing comic books. Toward the end, I mention my new skateboard.

I've been very slowly working on my comic book. I used to get annoyed when people said, "Gosh, there just aren't enough hours in the day!" but it turns out it's totally true. This is my third attempt at making sequential art. My first was an original hybrid of Ninja High School and Captain Harlock. I made it in 9th or 10th grade, back when I was obsessed with anime. At the time, you couldn't find it everywhere, so I was limited to the available (and mostly Americanized) manga The Comic Grapevine had in the back shelves. I thought my little three-page story was hilarious back then; it's amusing now because I unwittingly aped most of the same techniques I saw in stuff like Macross and Ranma 1/2. Since Ranma 1/2 occasionally showed boobs, I kept these hidden under junk on a top shelf in my closet. If you were a normal, non-nerdy kid, this is probably similar to where you hid old Playboys. I haven't really thought about that little comic (drawn on typing paper with this runny, expensive roller-ball pen) in a long time until I got into writing the one I'm stuck in now.

Prior to getting off my ass and starting, I read four books about Sequential Art (comics). Two were about writing, one by Denny O'Neil, who wrote and edited various DC titles for millions of years, and the other by Peter David, known to me for his lengthy stint on The Incredible Hulk. I'm partial to this last one because Peter David was mostly a Marvel guy and I'm kind of loyal to that pantheon. Anyway, those were helpful to me in terms of learning how to pace and work in subplots--if you've ever read a How-To-Write-a-Screenplay book, they're pretty similar.

The other two books, however, were a little more esoteric. Written by Scott McCloud, they deal more with the theory behind Sequential Art. While Making Comics focuses more on the craft and is therefore similar to the O'Neil and David books, Understanding Comics is a heady dissertation about what makes comics tick. What's really great is that McCloud writes them in comic-book form.

What I've found out, though, is that now I've almost over-educated to the point of uselessness (you'd think I'd learned my lesson about this already, but whatever). Back in 9th grade, I just told a story. I drew pictures, filled in balloons and channeled my imagination onto 8 1/2 X 11 sheets. It was a lot easier before I knew about things like pacing, decompressed stories and how not to ruin a climax with a talkative ending.

Frankly, it is fucking hard. I imagine this is what learning to walk on two prosthetic legs might be like. Well, that's probably waaaaay harder, but you know what I mean.

In On Writing, Stephen King reiterates that telling the story is the most imperative and important matter when you sit down to write; editing and tightening are what second and third drafts are for. So I try to keep this in mind. And in all fairness to my grownup self, nerdy 14 year old had the advantage of things like Legos and free room and board and actively using his brain on a daily basis. I guess I have to do my best to approximate that context.

Yeah, I know. First post in a week, and it's pretty boring. Well, my friend put together a longboard for me last week, and that's kind of exciting. I've been diligently practicing frontside turns over super-steep 7-degree angles in my apartment parking lot. Yes, I know that's wimpy--I'm old and inflexible, okay? If you're lucky, maybe I'll have pictures. Hopefully not of a trip to the hospital.

--The Robo-Pirate

1 comment:

Eric Grubbs said...

Even with writing a nonfiction book, I'm hearing ya.