Are you so passionate about comics writing that you want to learn how to become a successful comic book writer?
Comics writer, Justin Clement explains everything you need to know about comic book writing or how to write a comic book. What will you learn from this article? Apart from showing you how to become a comic book writer, this guide will teach you:
- How to break into this seemingly underground niche
- How to find opportunities for comics writers
- Tips for succeeding at writing comics.
- How to Start A Comic Book.
A Comprehensive Guide On How To Become a Comic Book Writer
The comics scene is a playing field for creatives like illustrators, inkers, writers and others.
To succeed in this field, you must cultivate certain characteristics.
Personal research, observation, and experience show that comics books writers are more likely to succeed if they posses the following qualities:
Be Passionate About Writing Comic Books.
The comic books sphere in third world countries is not as robust as those of North America and Europe, so jobs and other openings for professional comic book writers are few.
And lucrative comic book writing jobs are even fewer.
Therefore, you should have a very deep level of passion for the job, because it would take a serious amount of attachment and determination to not quit at the beginning.
Expect to face a lot of discouraging circumstances when venturing into the comic books space (cough cough, scarce jobs, little pay).
If you have no passion for the job, then have a very strong ulterior motive for seeking the job, because other than passion or some kind of hidden agenda, I have no idea where you would muster the determination to push through the early stages of the career (which could run into years).
You should want to be a comic book writer, and you should be determined to grow into one, which takes time, effort and oftentimes, and financial sacrifices.
Build a Good Portfolio/Creative Resumé.
Start your career from somewhere. You would need to be doused in very alarming amounts of anointing oil if you intend to begin the craft of comic or speculative fiction writing and immediately begin working for the big shot companies.
In reality, things like that take years of building, laying down work after work, building your portfolio to the top.
My speculative fiction prose works began to appear online in 2018, then in print 2019, before I got a job as a comic book writer in 2020. You cannot appear at the top overnight; sorcery is hard to learn these days. Be willing to start from scratch and build.
Bestselling writers don’t have acclaimed books and millions of dollars dropped into their hands at once, they start somewhere. No matter how far you are from the finish line. So start your comic book today. Learn the important terminologies (more on that further down in this article).
Every little win, every little accomplishment, will count towards you down the line, and the work you’ve put in the past will make the way easier for you in the future.
Be Attuned to Opportunities.
I cannot overemphasize this bit. Currently, the number of opportunities in certain comics space is disproportionate to the available huge potential. Not all opportunities come just once, and likewise, not all opportunities will come again.
Be aware of the opportunities flying around, and if they are not flying, then go check out their nests.
For instance, unless a company is closed to unsolicited pitches, don’t be afraid to seek them out and approach them with your portfolio.
Attend conferences or workshops for comic book enthusiasts. You will have opportunities to network with publishers, editors and other key players in the comic industry.
Once you are good enough and are beginning to have career achievements, you should be bold enough to seek out prospects and be willing to back your claim to them.
When you possess a certain level of career accomplishment, you can create opportunities for yourself as well, rather than waiting for opportunities to be formed.
Good skill, good drive, good perseverance, and a good perception of opportunities are some of the things that bring about career achievements, with time.
Do not just sit and wait; you will freeze and grow old. Go searching for opportunity, online or offline, because nothing good comes easy.
Work Hard To Improve On Your Skills As A Comic Writer.
Some say, work hard; some say, work smart.
Both are good, both are true. But what comes before working hard or smart? Ability. If you don’t have a certain level of talent, proficiency, or uniqueness to the craft, the hard work and smart work would eventually fall apart down the line.
Many people fail to realize that simply knowing how to do something is not enough. Simply being average or just good at something is sometimes not enough as well.
For every job, craft or position, there could be thousands to millions of people that merit that spot, based on their high ability levels.
If there are so many talented, highly intuitive, or insanely good people in the world/society for a particular job (and believe me, the level of talent out there will shock you), imagine how much more people are there who are simply just good at it.
Think of it this way:
- Why should you be paid better than average if your comic writing ability is average?
- Why should or how would you work for the biggest and most profitable enterprises when they can afford to select from the best comic book writers?
Admittedly, there may be people in good creative positions, whose abilities alone seem like something you could do better than.
But what those people may lack in ability is usually made up for in higher levels of hard work, smart work, opportunities, or black magic.
Now, remember you are not those people and so, as a safe bet, if you want the good stuff, you should be in a position to receive the good stuff (pun not intended, but approved).
And in addition to your hard and smart work, one of the best ways to be in this position is by developing your comic writing ability to a high degree.
The Tips Below Will Help You To Become A Better Comic Books Writer.
Read Good Comic Books.
Read comic books that are generally considered good by others or the experts. This will give you an idea of what appeals to the comic book reading public, or to the literary gatekeepers.
Also, note the comic books that you consider good, so that you can know:
- what works for you.
- how to start a comic book.
- and where you intend your style to gravitate towards.
The same principle applies to those who are learning the art of prose writing. Don’t read just for entertainment alone, but also read to learn and understand what makes the stories work.
Read comic book scripts:
A comic book is the work of multiple creatives (illustrators, inkers, letterers, etc), and the comic script is the skeleton of the comic book, which is the writer’s slice of the work cake.
The technical aspects in producing the comic’s story cannot be neglected. And since it is the script that is the writer’s requirement, knowing how to write a good script that will be easily understood by the illustrator is really, really important.
The comic script is the blueprint of the entire story and as such, comes with the nitty gritty of creative technicality. Read the actual scripts of comic books (many can be found online). Understand the technicalities that come with the job. How to start writing the comic book and how to handle the terrible middle of the comic book.
Remember the law of balance in this case. It is impossible to be a good writer without being a good reader. Garbage In, Garbage Out.
Understand The Important Comic Book Scriptwriting Terminology.
Comic book writing is like script writing.
- Both require mainly sparse and precise lines of dialogue.
- Both require scripts
- And both genres have unique terminology.
If you’re trying to figure out how to become a comic book writer, you should take time to understand comic writing terminology.
These terminology help you understand the structure of comics writing. These terms describe your intentions to the illustrator and the book editor. You’ll make fast progress if you memorize these terms and use them effectively. What’s more, your editor letterer and illustrator will thank you.
Below are terms you must master when trying to become a comic book writer.
- Page Panel
- Sound Effects
- Splash page
- Word Balloon
- Thought Balloon
- Double-page spread
Conclusion On How To Become A Comic Writer.
The comics scene is a relatively less explored pocket in the creative space. There’s a limited awareness, few conventions or workshops, and few opportunities for budding and professional comics writers.
This makes it difficult for new writers to break into the field of comics writing. Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you to succeed in your quest to becoming a comic book writer.
A quick recap of comic book writing tips to remember:
- Attend conventions and workshops for comic book writers
- Participate in contests for graphic novelists and writers of comics
- Read craft books for comics writers.
- Practice the craft.
- Memorize comic book writing terminologies.
- Invest in comic books and read them and so on.
There are no guarantees in the literary world. However, you can increase your chance of succeeding as a comic book writer if you follow these steps.
Are you a successful comics writer? What lessons have you learned on your journey to becoming a writer of comic books? Please share your tips in the comments section. We’re looking to learn more tips on how to become successful comic book writers.
Justin Clement is a writer. He works with comics republic where he writes,and always reads. He is sometimes prone to subtle mischief. His fiction short stories have been listed for awards and prizes, including The 2018 African Writers Award, The Punocracy Prize for Satire, The 2019 Awele Creative Trust Award, and the 2019 Nommo Awards. Justin is an alumnus of Chimamanda Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus Trust Creative Writing Workshop, and has worked in conjuction with the Goethe Institut and other creatives across Africa to produce a young adult anthology, which is available in English, French and Kiswahili. He is also involved in branding and creative consulting, and shuffles bases between Lagos and Port Harcourt. He is currently a writer for the digital comics company, Comic Republic.