21 May 2011

From Script to Screen

   A lot of people have asked me in the past how I work on SS so this post will  give those of you who are interested some idea. Also if you've  fancied doing your own comicin the past you  might also realise how cheaply and easily you can make your own.
  Okay so first and foremost lets' cover the really important bit, the story!!!  If you haven't got a well planned out story to start with then you are really wasting your time. I've seen way too many really lovely artists dive in and turn out pages and pages of comic before suddenly admitting they are lost and don't know where to go.  Each SS chapter is written long before any art is done as for me writing is as much of the pleasure anyway.  In part four I introduced Nick and  May (the old lady downstairs), so the overall story was starting to become more complicated to write. I wrote a simple skeleton for each character seperately first, deciding what issues were worth highlighting most and also what interesting scenarios or events could be produced from them. As always, if my own experiences coincided with theirs, i:e relationship wise etc, then I'd try and include as much of  that for realism.

As far as Nick is concerned his original storyline skeleton was pretty much just like this:

1/    Sarah meets Nick in laundry room and mentions she is Janey's partner. He says he is seperated.

2/   See strangely quiet girl leaving Nicks flat who doesn't reply when they say 'hi'.

3/   Find underwear in laundry room that doesn't belong to them and seems too sexy for May.

4/ Sarah takes parcel in for Nick, but it's ripped and Janey being nosey says it looks like a dress and is keen to open it, but Sarah stops her.

5/   Sarah  has day off  because she is feeling unwell one day and catches Nick dressed as a girl.

Point 4 about the parcel was moved ahead several times but then dropped from the script eventually because some readers were becoming upset about the girl's invasive attitude towards Nick's privacy. It didnt make any difference to the story anyway as Janey had already let herself down by spying through his window and it gave me a chance to move on with the story too. Similar scenes have also been axed just because they fitted awkwardly or seemed in the end to have little worth as far as the story went.
   Ideas evolve and change as the story is finally written out but for now this is enough to work out the course of events. The next thing I did  was to write all these ideas on bits of coloured card ( a different colour for each character) and then spread them out on the floor to plan out who would do what and when. Past events are too remote to cause to much of a problem, but as I normally jump 5yrs with every chapter and then jump just a day with every page from there I have to allow for non-seen events to still fit the same timeline of the current chapter.  When all this is sorted I then copy the page planner to my computer for easy reference in the future:
  Each page sometimes contains multiple characters events or even two scenes so planning them this way makes sure that each persons slot doesn't get overlooked.

Next the really fun stuff begins!  As each page in the framework comes up I'll have speant about a week going over it in my mind and imagining the scenario along with the conversations. Doing simple non challenging stuff like walking to work or washing up is great for this and i can really just slip into the page and daydream how it's going to run.  I'll make notes on odd scraps if any really nice lines or funny remarks come to mind, but other than that I really just carry the page in my head for a week before it's due to be drawn. During the evenings I'll plot how many panels I'll need on the page and try to include the best lines while discarding or cropping anything that threatens to dominate the art too much. By Sunday I'll normally have this as my template for the next page:

From this I'll start sketching out pics in rough first and then when I'm happy enough with the art I'll trace it on my lightbox to just keep a cleaner copy of what I've been sketching. It'll end up looking like this, with all the text arranged roughly in position.

After this I'll ink over the same page and then erase all the pencil with a soft rubber to get this:

Notice how the script keeps changing from one stage to the next!   Every time I touch the page I tend to re-enact the scene slightly differently and sometimes new lines seem better than the old ones so I'll reword or change it right up to the inking stage. Once it's inked though it stays!

Finally all that remains is to colour it!: