Thoughtbubble 2000AD PitchFest Thoughts…

Saw this tweet on twitter and so I tweeted out some thoughts, added them here cus it’s really more of a blog post anyway.

Here’s my advice on writing: Future shocks are stories with a sting in the tail, but that’s not the limit. Look for a twist every single page – more if you can. Change your scene, make time jump, do something interesting, the comic four pager has a very specific grammar, and you’ve got to use that.

Grab the reader as quick as you can, jump in to the action, then start revealing elements, and on each reveal say something about the story, make the reader rethink it.

The twists can be big or small. Keep the reader thinking they’ve worked it out then BLAM hit them with another twist until the final when, they suddenly realise they’ve been staring at the answer the whole time.

I did a “create comics workshop” and we’d play with writing futureshocks, talking through twists, taking a basic concept and playing with it, turning it around and figuring out what goes where. Future shocks tend to be plot driven, but you should tie it with something that means something emotionally.

If you have a story already written start thinking about how you can ramp it up – both by adding more twisty complexity to it and by making it much more emotional. What is the theme of the story? figure that out and reinforce it (the theme might be “families can be suffocating” or “you’ve got nothing without your health” (I mean it can be literally anything, so don’t limit yourself to these trite ones I’ve written).

Another thing I love is trying to fit as much story in to those four pages as possible. Cross vast distances, bring the reader through decades. Or slow it down, four pages that tell a story of 11 seconds.

The great thing about the short story format is you can deliver an entire world, so do so!

What I’m saying is they should be fun. Have fun. Then write your synopsis, a good synopsis will be your lodestone guiding you through lots of rewrites, making sure you’ve not padded the story or lost your way. You’ll be amazed to, after writing the story and writing the synopsis how much of the script isn’t germane to the story and that’s an opportunity to go in, excise those bits and add extra stuff that really emphasis the emotionally stuff.

Now, my advice on drawing…

Make the story understandable and readable without dialogue.

Show your finished art to someone who doesn’t read comics and ask them to explain to you what’s happening – if they can do that then you’ve done a good job. If they can’t then there’s something you need to fix. If they go “where did that guy come from” that’s a problem. If they say “are they indoors” you’ve done it wrong – if they can’t tell where / when the story is happening you need to fix these things AND storytelling is MORE (SO MUCH MORE) important than whether your art “looks nice” – I’ve seen amazing art that can’t tell a story for toffee and incredible storytelling that actually when you dig in to it is pretty crude looking.