Comic Book Script

13 Jan

This might only be interesting to a small number of people, and it might not be interesting to anyone but me. But I want it in an easy place, because I’m doing some comic work (or trying to, in between everything else). I wrote this page of script for a comics thread on AbsoluteWrite, when I was trying to be a fairly useful human being. And then, as a surprise — because there were some very nice people saying very nice things about what I was talking about — I went out and got in touch with an artist I knew, who took the sample page of comic script and sketched it out.

I wanted to show how the process works. And of course, we all know how fond I am of Christoffer Saar’s work.

So, here we go. The comic script first (as I write them, sometimes) and then, followed by how Chris Saar interpreted it.

I have some other, probably more interesting things to talk about here, but it’ll have to wait a couple of days. Busy, busy (alas, not with writing, woe is me.)

My default method of writing a script is pretty basic. Here’s a rough idea:

PAGE ONE (nine panels): Three panels on top, one long strip panel, three panels below, two panels below that.

PANEL ONE: A shot of our man walking down the street, hands in his pockets.


PANEL TWO: A shot of our man, same as before, but shadowed heavily.

TEXT (People shouting, off-panel): Oh my God! What’s THAT!? Look out!

PANEL THREE: Our man looks up, startled.

CLARK(thought): This is how you know the day’s going badly.

PANEL FOUR: A robot lands on top of CLARK KENT, scattering bits of road and cars all around it in a heavy, heavy shock wave. We see a bit of John’s hand and foot sticking up in the panel, out from under the robot’s big feet.

PANEL FIVE: Complete blackness.

CAPTION: “That really hurts. I don’t care how invincible you are, big robot landing on top of you equals pain.”

PANEL SIX: A side shot of the robot’s big leg. It’s raised up out of the hole in the ground, CLARK’s hands pushing it up. His skin is intact, his sleeves are tattered and filthy.

CAPTION: “And honestly, a big robot? Who wakes up and thinks ‘golly, today I will build a big robot, what a great idea.’ Seriously?”

PANEL SEVEN: CLARK sitting all the way up, arms over his head, still holding up the robot foot. His teeth are clenched. He’s filthy and his clothes are shredded and dirty, but his skin is intact.

CAPTION: “If that’s how they think, I don’t know why I even need to stop the bad guys and save the world. They aren’t getting out their front doors this way.”

PANEL EIGHT: A shot from behind CLARK, who is now standing up in the hole. His arms are back, he’s just flung the robot off him and despite being six stories tall, it’s gone sailing away from him.

CAPTION: “Still, I don’t get on the front page of papers by looking good in tights, which is a shame.”

PANEL EIGHT: A shot of CLARK’S chest, where he’s just ripped open his tattered shirt and jacket, to reveal the SUPERMAN uniform underneath.

CAPTAIN: “Guess I’d better get on with it.”

And here’s the script, worked out in basic sketch.


Posted by on January 13, 2008 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Comic Book Script

  1. Shadow Ferret

    January 14, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Panel Four: Who is John?

    OK. Now let me in on your thinking. As you write the page, do you visualize all that? Or do you yourself do a rough sketch of it? I don’t know how comic writing is done. Despite the fact that I wanted to do that at one time (I didn’t pursue it because I can’t work creatively under that kind of deadline pressure), I have no idea how comic scripting is done.

    I certainly couldn’t just think in my head that I have 9 panels to work with and then write a script for each, I’d have to also sketch it I’m thinking.

  2. Pete Tzinski

    January 14, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Usually, I sketch out the page. And I mean, I draw a page-sized box, and then draw the panels into it, for my own benefit. But not always. For that page, I just wrote the script. It helps that, in that page’s case, I knew I was only doing a single page and didn’t have to worry about the rhythm of multiple pages. There was no other facing page to consider, for example.


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