How to Make a Comic Book – The Best Writing and Design Tips
With blockbuster movies, TV shows, novels, and trade collections getting more and more attention, it seems that everyone wants to know how to make a comic book – preferably that becomes a new hit and draws attention. Thanks to numerous adaptations, and the popularity of comic books online, the comic book market is undergoing a renaissance of sorts.
You might be passionate about comic books and create your own story – or you might want to use the comic book style to create advertising materials, and educational content or draw more attention to your own brand.
Either way, everyone can make their own comic book or a comic strip and publish it online – and we’re going to guide you from writing a comic book story to publishing it as a beautiful ebook online using simple ebook creator . So, Avengers? Assemble!
What is a comic book?
Comics are an art form that combines images and text to tell a story. Panels, which are independent frames that each represent a single image, are often used to present a story in a sequential manner (for example story beats like a snippet of dialogue, a shot of scenery, or a fragment of a fight scene can take place in a single image).
Thanks to the combination of text and graphics, comic book creation encourages invention and artistic expression. What’s more, unlike film or static images, comic panels give creators unique opportunities to present stories in time. Thanks to the unique layout of a comic book page, comics can achieve things that an author may never be able to do in prose or film.
The first comic books appeared in the 1920s and 1930s – they were comic strips. As the name implies, a comic strip is supposed to be funny and tell a joke as a punchline – but these days, comic books don’t have to be humorous. In many ways, a graphic novel is a new version of a comic book – it tells a self-contained story, and is often more serious.
The first superheroes like Batman and Superman from DC Comics appeared in the 1930s – this was the so-called Golden Age of comic books. After the end of World War II, the genre of superhero stories gave way to others, such as romances, westerns, and science fiction – many people thought that comic books were unsuitable for children at that time.
Superheroes made a comeback, however, in the so-called Silver Age, in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Marvel universe was created back then. In the 1980s and 1990s, comics became dark and violent, but the modern era of comic books often reaches back to the classics. In the 00s many comics moved to Internet (or people started their own independent webcomics).
Of course, many countries outside the USA also have their own comic book industry – Japan’s manga is the most famous, but France and Belgium are also world-famous for their comics from Asterix to Yoko Tsuno.
Characteristics of good comic books
For many comic book experts, it is the balance between text and image that draws the reader in. The combination of text and image is essential to convey the unique message, and if either of these elements is removed, the story in the comic book no longer makes sense.
A boring comic is one in which the image either illustrates the text or the text simply describes the image the reader can already see (for example, it could be an image of a sunset, and the accompanying text might say something like “Evening has come”). That’s weak, and doesn’t use the unique visual storytelling ability of the comic. A good comic book is one in which words and images come together – for example, when you see a big explosion and read “Mom!” Immediately there is a sense of drama.
Some comics are completely devoid of words since the image sometimes can have a very poignant impact. But still, it’s a good idea to add dialogue, narration, or internal monologues to your comic book design. When you create comics with the help of the Publuu – flipbook making platform, you need to have both text and images in your head – you should leave some room for speech bubbles or text boxes when you make a comic book.
Publuu’s comic book example
How to make your own comic book in 10 simple steps?
1. Pre-writing your comic novel
Everything you do before you start writing an original comic book script is called pre-writing. This can mean coming up with story ideas, creating scripts for those ideas, and planning character development. You can talk to friends, take notes, draw mind maps – plan what will be in your comic book.
2. Think of a hook
When working on a comic book project you need to have something that will draw readers’ attention to your comic, something that will set it apart from others. If you’re thinking about superheroes, chances are that someone already came up with any original idea you have – if you want to make a comic book, you need some fresh ideas. Sometimes just a few words to describe your concept is enough to help people immediately understand what is unique about your story.
For example, in the 1960s, a superhero who is an ordinary teenager and has no time or money to fight crime was something completely revolutionary. That’s how the Amazing Spider-Man came to be! But what about a hero who is blind? What if an extraterrestrial warlord decided to become a regular police officer? These are all cult comic book ideas, and you need some amazing ideas to compete with comic books already on the market.
3. Create a list of characters for your story
The comic should have a cast of central characters, like the strong protagonist, antagonist, and other important players. Develop a description of their outward appearance, sketch their appearance and give them main character traits. Include such things as the character’s interests and important life events. The protagonist can have a strong personality or be a surrogate for the reader – it already depends on the story you want to tell in your own comic strip.
4. Create the conflict
A good story is one that makes you think. Some of the best comics are about the conflict between two ideas – not necessarily good and evil. Superman represents what’s best in humankind but is an alien – Lex Luthor is a genius and fully human but rotten to the core. Spider-Man is a passionate young scientist who believes that science solves problems – but some of his main villains have been corrupted by their own lust for power. Gauls in Asterix fight for freedom – but Julius Caesar in that series shows that he can be honorable and fair! And even heroes like Captain America and Iron Man can have different viewpoints. A great story is all about the characters and how they interact.
5. Plan the setting
A comic book transports you to a fantasy world – though of course there are many realistic comics as well. When creating a comic book, you have a unique opportunity to depict fantastic places and times. Marvel comics are often set in New York City – but they combine familiar locations like the Statue of Liberty or Times Square with unique fantasy places like Wakanda or Savage Land. The locations in your comic book can be just as important as the characters.
6. Write a script
Starting to draw a comic before coming up with a proper story is one of the most common mistakes made by people new to the creative process. Sure, you want to grab a blank sheet of paper, blank comic books or launch a drawing app and start sketching, but it won’t be a good story.
Prepare a script, the beginning, middle, and end of the story, and write what happens in each panel. It is ok if you change something, but without a script, there is no good comic!
7. Draw storyboards
After you finish writing the script, it’s time to start drawing. But before you do that, draw a storyboard – a rough draft of the page.
Outline what you want each page to look like – if you want to create a fight scene, you don’t need to draw the characters exactly. Use stick figures to have a rough idea of the action on the page, decide how many panels the fight will take, and think through the warrior’s pose.
8. Draw the comic
Drawing a comic book can seem like a challenge, whether you choose traditional or digital drawing techniques. That’s why professionals usually divide the work between the artist, the writer, and so on.
Start with pencil sketches – you will create the final drawings in the next phase – inking. Leave room for speech bubbles and boxes on the page and other key elements like sound effects. Start with rough sketches and improve each page step by step. Guide your panels along the lines – from right to left (unless you draw manga).
9. Inking, coloring, and lettering
Inking is the final finishing touch – drawing black outlines. Then you add colors, they must be consistent with the style and vision. Finally, you add the letters – both effects like BOOM, CRACK! etc., as well as text in bubbles and boxes. Often these steps are handled by specialists – but today it is made easier by programs and comic book fonts.
10. Create and publish your own comic book.
Congratulations! You’ve made a comic book. So, what do we do now? It’s actually difficult to sell and promote your comic book – as an independent author you have creative control, but people might not be interested
But you can make money from it – whether by publishing it as a webcomic i.e. online comic strip, or publishing it as a PDF on Publuu.
How to make a comic book character?
Before you start designing and inventing your character’s adventures, there are a few attributes you should establish about them.
Start by figuring out who they are and what their name is. A name can say a lot about a character. For example, many names like Giovanna or Fatima will immediately show the ethnicity of the character. A nickname can also say a lot – for example, many heroes add titles like Doctor or Mister to a superhero name.
Consider what their age range is. Is your character a teenager, young adult or senior citizen? Consider what years this character grew up in and what shaped them. A character growing up after the war will probably be more serious than a youngster.
In comics, a character often has extraordinary abilities, like superhuman strength or intelligence. Consider how powerful your comic book character is – will he be able to lift a car, a bus, a train, or a building…. but also consider how it affects the world. A lifted building may collapse under its own weight – your character may be superhumanly resilient, but the ground on which he stands may not.
Many people say “write what you know” – if you are a black resident of the US and don’t know Chinese culture well, you will have to do a lot of research to portray a young Chinese girl credibly. It is best to write about people you know how to present and show the comic book world through their eyes.
Overall, take care of diversity – try to be realistic and show society as it is, not as you see it. Comic fans love to identify themselves with their favorite heroes and many fascinating characters in the comic book industry broke the mold!
How to make a comic book cover?
The cover of a comic book encourages the purchase and summarizes its content. That’s why you should make sure the cover art looks good.
Think about what it should depict. The size, posture, and facial expression of a character on the cover tell a lot about the strengths and weaknesses of the characters on the cover. For example, if a character towers over others, it could mean that he is more powerful than them, for example, he is a villain who needs to be defeated. Consider what works best for your story. Test close-ups of the characters, wide shots of the scenery, an overhead view, and a downward perspective to see which works best. Show your own images to a friend and ask whether they’ll sell well.
Prepare sketches of different versions so that you have different ideas. Remember that the average path of the human eye runs from left to right and then down the middle of the page. Look through galleries of covers to see what to draw on… You should expect some trial and error because the right composition usually does not happen the first time.
Once you have completed your pencil sketch and added the text (or created text boxes to fill in later), you can begin the inking and coloring process. Make sure that the textures, depth and shading effects of the cover are consistent with the rest of the book design.
How to make a comic online? Use Publuu!
However, the comics market can be quite problematic. Many people find it difficult to publish comics – they often want to publish them online. Print comics can be very expensive and hard to buy outside hobby stores. We, however, offer a solution for publishing digital comics in an attractive way, so that they resemble a paper comic book held in the hands.
Creating a flipbook is a great way to publish your comic or graphic novel online – maybe you want to advertise your creation or use your comic as an advertisement, a way to present marketing content, your own art, or educate the readers.
You can save the comic as a PDF, and our Publuu ebook creator will convert it into an HTML5 publication that can be integrated directly into your website or shared via a link on social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. This allows the reader to go straight to the new issue and read them at any place and time.
What’s more, if you’re an established creator, you can present your comics in print – and put a preview in the flipbook format on your website online. This will give the reader an idea of what the comic looks like in print.
And if you are an independent creator, you can use Publuu for self-publishing. Our Publuu flipbook maker will allow you to host your comics funded by, for example, Patreon or Kickstarter. You can upload and embed the first issue of your comic on Publuu as a preview, and your fans will receive the next issues in print.
Many people want to know how to make a comic book – and we have prepared this guide to help you out. Remember that most comic books need great ideas and a lot of passion. Design main characters, write a script, and start making your comics!
We hope that now you have plenty of ideas and can start making comics straight away!
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