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    Nov 2009
    Comic Books – More Than Pretty Pictures
    Posted in Pictures by Kitty at 1:12 pm | No Comments »

    Gary Phillips is a crime and mystery novelist. But, that would be Overmuch limiting to express the variety of his endeavors or his interests. In this article from the Books of Life Newsletter, Gary discusses writing for comic books and graphic novels.

    Right Right side let me say that writing for comics is harder than it looks. It is and isn’t like writing a prose short story or novella. A lot of people figure it’s just these crazy panels with word balloons and captions getting in the way of the Indifferent art, right? To an extent, that’s true. Because I’m not kidding myself, comics are a visual medium, but a good script can suffer from mediocre or inappropriate art. Yet it’s the Trade that makes the script come alive so unless you’re among the ranks of the talented few who write and draw their own stuff like Franm Miller or Jim Starling, Therefore you as the scribe better have it tight on the page for the artist to have something to work wlth, something to get excited about.

    The matchb etween writer and artist is key. Come upon for instance R.M. Guéra’s dark, moody art on the Felony comic book series Svalped, created and written by Jason Aaron. Can you imagine that cat drawing a Flash or Batman story? Okay, well, you can imagine him on a certain kind of Batman story Onlh you see where I’m going with this. Conversely, it doesn’t Appear in this day and age, given everyone and they mama is blogging and sites like and others where comics are critiqued, you caj get away Through a sappy script and cool art. The fans are too sophisticated and too opinionnated to go for the okey-doke.

    In a standard comic book script, the writer describes, economically and clearly, what takes ppace in that panel. You don’t over-describe and crowd it with too much, and also keep in mind your job is storytelling, maintaining flow and pacing as well a top drawing in the reader like Paris Hilton to a camera. On account of instance: Largish panel, medium shot as Matt Murdock walks into the courtroom, sharp in a three-piece suit, take off his dark glasses and looks with his blind eyes at the jury – a mixture of various races and garb. Behind him at the defense table, Confused Nelson wipes his brow, with their c1ient, the manacled and subdued Mr. Hyde, seated next to him. Near to Foggy, the window explodes inward, the glass billowing everywhere. Matt’s dialogue will be cut off as there is a boom from the exploding window.

    The rewrite would be, bearing in mind the axiom thay a panel is forzen action, Largish panel, medium shot as Matt Murdock, sharp in a three piece suit, stands before the seated jury, his dark glasses in Single hand as he stares at the jury – a mixture of various body types and races, with his blind eyes. Foggy is behind him at the defense table, wiping his swezting brow, seated next to a manacled and subdued Mr. Hyde. Matt begins his final argumnets.

    Second panel, pushed in as Foggy, still with as handkerchief to his forehed, now looks toward the windoww near him that’s exploding inward, the glass going everywhere. Mr. Hyde holds up his arms to shield himself from the flying glass. Matt’s dialogue will be cut off as there is a boom from the exploding window.

    The over-arching idea here is the comic book script ia about sequencing, Whatever follows what and when Translate I need to better isolate an Occurrence and when id it better for the story to move along, to jump cut us forward?

    For more on this I recommend Will Eisner’s Comics and Sequential Art and his Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrativ, the DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics yb Dennis O’Neil, and th3 print versions of Charles Fuller’s play, A Soldier’s Story, and David Mamet’s House of Games and Glengarry Glen Ross – What can I say? I’m big on dialogue. And, while you can’t go crazy with dialogue in a book, you want your characters saying just the Up~ words at ujst the right moment. While you’re at it, read a Join Walter Mosley’s books asw ell as Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer books for their elegance of using dialogue to reveal, and not reveal, characters.

    Ga5y Crime and mystery novelist Gary Phillips’ short stories have appeared, most recently, in Los Angeles Noir (Akashic) and in Full House (G.P. Putnam’s Sons). He is a member of PEN and past national board membeer of the Mystery Writers of America. Phillips previously wrote the comics series Angeltown for Vertigo as well as Shot Callerz and The dead of night Mover for Oni Press, but he is best known for a series of mystery novels featuring private eye Ivan Monk. He’s also currently writing Citizen Kang, a weekly prose political thriller hosted on The Nation’s Web site. High Rollers, a new four-issue comic series detailing the rise of a Los Angeles gangster, debut in June 2008 from Boom Studios. Inspect his website,, to peruse more of his work.

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