How to write a comic for an anthology

Our Broadcast Day

Our Broadcast Day - Comics about Television

My comic pal Pat Lewis is putting together an anthology called OUR BROADCAST DAY. Basically it’s a collection of alt-cartoonists’ takes on television shows of all genres, past and present. He has not released any official information so I hope it’s cool I post about this because I needed something to blog about today.

Ernie and Burt Comic by J Chris Campbell

Over the last couple years I developed a loose way to write my comics. Sometimes I’ll come up with an idea while standing in the shower, driving in the car, eating a sandwich or pretending to listen to my wife talk. Once I’ve finally come up with an idea that I think will be fantastic I begin the next step in my process. I procrastinate until the very last minute, and usually later than that given the situation and the kindness of the editor.

Once I’ve run completely out of time I finally draw out the boxes on sheets of paper. That is when I decide that my original idea was no good and force myself to come up with something new. I sit someplace away from my computer and just start making up the story right on the page. I start to sketch pretty tightly while I act out the story in my head. I wade out into the stream of conscious and see what I can catch. Each panel moves the story along as I make it up in my head and try to keep up on the page.

I incorporate some sort of delima, conflict or standard story telling device I don’t know the name of. Sometimes I write some wording down other times I just try to get the idea of what might happen. Usually a little over halfway I realize what the end of the story has to be. It’s one of the best feelings I get while creating the comic. It’s like figuring out the solution to a puzzle. So once I’ve done that I totally loose any motivation to actually draw the comic.

Ernie and Burt Comic by J Chris Campbell

I take the beginning that I’ve come up with and I go to the computer and start typing in the dialogue. Looking at my sketches to see where a panel might be combined and where I can add something or take something away. I believe writers call this editing but I’m actually still writing the comic and it’s not even fully written so I don’t believe it’s a revision. But for whatever reason I have to type out the dialogue and see it on the screen before I can move on.

I usually just get a little over halfway done and I might number the panels. I try to figure out how much room is left to fill with other things but I leave it blank and start laying out the page on the computer.

I lay out the type in each panel and see if I can combine anything then I start drawing. Once I’ve finished up the beginning of the story I start looking at how many panels are left before the resolution and end of the comic. Then I jump back over to my script and try to come up with something to bridge the gap. Sometimes I’ll just keep going, writing the story on the page as I draw it on the computer. This part of the process is kind of fun because it’s more like a puzzle again.

Anyhow to make this long story not as long, I finish the comic and I print it out and read over it for typos. I send it to my friend’s to catch typos (usually only giving them a few hours to respond because I’m already pushing the limits of what a deadline is). Then I hand the comic to my wife and she reads it and says that she doesn’t get it and why didn’t I use her idea she gave me when I was whinning about not having any ideas for the comic in the first place. That’s when I stomp off pouting and read the comic again. I change a couple of things and send it off to the editor. Then a week later I contact the editor with new files because I forgot to save the changes that I made last minute and sent them the wrong files.

Then I just sit back and wait to hear from all the people who loved my story. The waiting is endless.

2 Comments

Got something to say? Feel free, I would love to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. Mike Gowan says:

    Thanks for this glimpse into your process. This also sounds like a glimpse into an average day of a super genius.

  2. Andrew B says:

    Thanks for the insight Chris.. enjoyable read.

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