Oh how the time flies when it comes to doing comics.
I started working on fan-made comics back in 2009, back when I was really into “The City” (and yes you know which one I mean).
Back then, it was something that I did out of curiosity. I had been inspired by several sources, most notably by the members of the City of Comic Creators, and I had been doing dummy comic covers for a while. Then someone said “This looks really great! I can’t wait to read the comic!” And I honestly asked myself “why not?”
So I took one of my favorite characters (you really don’t have to guess which one) and I went with it, and that ended up being the first issue of “Guardians of the Dawn Spotlight”.
There was no planning involved with it. It literally was a free-thinking make-it-as-I-go comic. Sure there was a story involved in those early issues, but they were origin issues. There was very little development into the stories other than recounting their origins.
There also weren’t any deadlines in those early comics. It was published whenever I was finished with the issue, with or without flaws or typos.
How far we’ve come…
Here’s how things work in coming up with an issue for “Future’s Guardian”…
Step 1: Outline – Every issue has an “Issue Notes” document that goes over the title of the issue, a quick summary as to the story being shown, a description of the character being introduced or focused on, and then try to block the scenes involved.
Step 2: Set-up – Otherwise known as “playing”. I go into the MMO and work a little with the characters in question. If this is a brand new character, I have to create it and get used to using the character and then get it into the settings.
I’ll repeat these two steps often as I flesh out the story.
Step 3: In-Game Blocking – Once I know how the story will go and I have the characters for it, I’ll start blocking the action. Some comic creators like to use demorecordings of the game. I’ve worked with them and I’ve found them to be headaches. If you can manage with them, more power to you. Me, I’ll stick to tried-and-true screenshots.
For me the biggest headache in this is the time. I don’t know why but every time I do a scene that is supposed to be outdoors in the daytime, I’m logging into the game in the middle of the night, and then I’m having to get the character into position and then WAIT until the sun is up for me to do the scene. That, by the way, can take over an hour. Taking the screenshots can take just a few minutes, so you see a lot of time is wasted just waiting for the environment to be right.
Step 4: In-Comic Blocking – Once I have the screenshots, that’s when I start putting the comic together in Microsoft Publisher. It’s not always easy, but having the Issue Notes helps to remind me how I wanted the story to go.
Step 5: Create the Cover – I don’t have to do this last, but it’s certainly just as important as the story itself.
Step 6: Put It Together – Once I’ve got the scenes done and the cover designed and the ads inserted where I wanted them to be, the I turn it into a PDF file.
This is where the fun begins. Originally this is when I’d just release the issue and then move on to the next one.
BUT that was then and this is now.
Step 7: First Draft Review – The first draft is placed somewhere online where I can send out links to a group of reviewers to look at the issue and let me know if there are some problems or errors that need to be fixed. They will also give me suggestions about the story and/or the characters and let me know if there are potential problems in that department. It’s not easy taking criticism, but I do have to remind myself that I’m asking them for help, and quite often their input helps make the issue that much better.
Step 8: Second Draft Review – If there’s time I’ll put up a second draft of the issue, which will have changes and corrections from the first draft review. Then we repeat the process. I’ll also start hyping the issue online, trying to get the attention of the potential readers.
Step 9: Work on Next Issue – While I’m hyping the current issue, I’ll get the ball rolling on the NEXT issue. Start with Step 1 and follow through from there.
Step 10: Release – On the scheduled release date, I’ll go ahead and “officially release” the issue, which involves posting it in deviantART, at the CCC website, and on Issuu. I’ll also post the announcement here and through the Twitter feed, and also on Facebook. Then, I’ll get back to working on the next issue.
It’s a long process, but I happen to think that the results are worth it.
What do you think?