I don’t write comic scripts in the traditional format of a comic script. This is the normal form a writer will work with an artist laying out story and dialog in a page by page and frame by frame basis. Usually with a folder of character notes attached. This is how I have often received comic scripts from writers on collaborative projects.
When writer and artists are a team, this is a really useful way to work. On this project I am a one man show, writer and artists. I have a little more freedom to keep some of the ideas in my head because I don’t have to pass them on to anybody in production. So I work more visually after I have set down some notes in an outline:
Pg 1: Introduction and Splash page. Characters and setting Working Title: Please Press Start
Pg 2: AI’s take over and players gear up head into Level One
Pg 3: Level One: Fight the Robot Dogs (establish video game tropes)
Pg 4-5 Level 2: Speed Level (establish something uncanny about the AI control)
Pg 6-7 Level 3: Robot Army (establish, power ups and weapon upgrades in physical form)
Pg 8-9 Boss Level: and defeat (emphasize real-world injuries and reset)
Pg 10: Closing kicker, reveal the AI’s are not humans and that humans are not in control of this world
I have established my overall arc and set up the conflict/resolution arc for each page. Each page needs to tell it’s own part of the story. What part of the story am I telling on each page. It looks like this:
I read today about a call for submissions for comics to be published in Future Sci-Fi Tales #5. I figured this is an opportunity to walk the Virtual Comics Club through my process to put together a short comic story. From concept to completion.
The boring stuff
Projects often start with the boring stuff. Collecting the submission information the publisher provided a set of guidelines for submission:
Between 4 to 10 pages
Page layout is follows the Ka-Blam template (7 in by 10.5 in 300 dpi – pixels per inch)
Story must be Science Fiction, set in the future.
Developing the concept
From there I started developing the concept. I started thinking about the Isekai genre of anime, where characters are transported or trapped in a virtual or video game world. I wanted to turn this popular concept on its head. I wrote down a lot of concepts and inspirations:
Two Artificial Intelligences playing games with real people
Blade Runner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)
I’m going to keep that list taped up next to my sketchbook as I work on the concepts.
Blocking out the rough plot
This project is being built as a one-off so there is a limited amount of world building involved. My process is usually to work on a sketchbook and work through the project/issue on a page by page basis. I like working on an unstructured page so I can put notes wherever I want and graphically arrange my thoughts.
I decided the plot would follow levels of a video game and that the “players” wouldn’t be revealed until the end. The splash page would post player stats and have them dialoging about buying their freedom from the game. I broke down each level would be 1-2 pages and the players would fail to defeat the boss.