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Sam Houston
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Posted: 25 July 2009 at 8:56pm | IP Logged | 1  

John, a couple of questions regarding research:

1. When you write or draw a period piece comic book story (i.e. WW2, the1800's, etc.) how much research do you do?  In some of your other posts you've mentioned how you read different books on different topics, such as Abraham Lincoln or the 50's, and are these helpful later on if your writing a story that takes place in a time period that you've casually read up on?  In researching specific periods in history, is there any particular source or sources that you find the most helpful?

2. As for writing a story with comic book characters that you are not familiar with, how much research do you do on them?

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John Byrne
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Posted: 25 July 2009 at 9:26pm | IP Logged | 2  

1. Appreciating that I am not producing documentaries or textbooks, I try for a look and feel that will be convincing to the readers without getting in the way of telling the story. To this end, I look at pictures (photos or paintings and drawings, depending on the period) and absorb as much as I can before I start work. Then I do the actual drawing without looking again at the reference material unless something specific is needed. (Sometimes I will use a particular image, a photo for instance, as a kind of "establishing shot" to set the tone, and then go from there with "verisimilitude".)

2. Depends on how you define "research". Usually, it comes down to making a lot of phone calls. Editors and friends who are familiar with the character(s). I ask for overviews, synopses, that kind of thing. Then, until I am comfortable in the saddle, with each thing I come up with that feels like it might be a divergence from what's been established, I call the editor and outline what I have in mind.

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Sam Houston
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Posted: 26 July 2009 at 1:44pm | IP Logged | 3  

Thanks for the reply.  Now, in regards to writing a story for a comic book, what is the latest format that is used in doing so?  Is there any example on line, or anything from you, that shows how a comic book writer prepares a story in written form? 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 26 July 2009 at 3:34pm | IP Logged | 4  

There is no standard form. Hollywood folk tend to use screenplay formats, which can sometimes make it hard to follow when one is used to a more straightforward layout.

Plots are written in simple paragraph form. A basic full script gores something like so:

PAGE ONE

PANEL ONE : Art description

1 CAPTION or CHARACTER NAME: Dialog with EMPHASIS where NEEDED

2 Ditto: Ditto

3 Etc…

Scripts from plots are the same, omitting the art description.

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Simon Bowland
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Posted: 26 July 2009 at 5:35pm | IP Logged | 5  

Sam, a lot of script writers - be they Hollywood folk or comic folk - use the software package FINAL DRAFT nowadays, which takes care of all the necessary script formatting (and a lot more) automatically for them. At $250 it's probably not worth investing in until you're getting regular work, but it's something to bear in mind.
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Sam Houston
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Posted: 26 July 2009 at 5:38pm | IP Logged | 6  

Thanks John and Simon, I appreciate it.  I know there are different books about drawing (i.e. How to Draw the Marvel Way and the Marvel Try Out Book), but how to prepare a comic book story is not something a person sees books on as easily.
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John Byrne
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Posted: 26 July 2009 at 6:31pm | IP Logged | 7  

FINAL DRAFT is fine if you're writing teleplays or screenplays. For a comicbook script, you need something simple, straightforward and easily readable. An ordinary word processor is good enough.

Worry about content, not format!

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