Outside The Panels #5: A Unique Way to Plot as a Comic Writer

I’m not sure what I want to type about today on Outside The Panels #5, but last week on Outside the Panels #4 I wrote about how to be a comic writer that is a good collaborator. Maybe today I’ll talk about plot? Like plotting a comic? Yeah… Let’s go with that.

But, first…

I want to write a bit about how I’ve been on this kick where I’ve been watching tons of YouTube channels put together by gamers recording their video game sessions. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this concept… Welcome to a few years ago. There are a quite a bit of video gamers out there who are making money –like earning a living– on YouTube by sharing their gameplay of pretty much any game in the for any platform ever. It’s really intriguing. I don’t have much time in my life with having a full-time job, being a family man and being an independent comic writer…But, I’m going to mess around and post some things up.

When I was in college I remember talking to some friends at the campus TV studio –where I pretty much spent my entire senior year– about how YouTube would be a great place to have a network. I was saying how we could come up with original content to broadcast and turn a YouTube account into a legit channel, like TV. They said that people would never watch it because that was what TV was for. Flash forward to today and that is exactly what so many people do. I’m kicking myself in the ass right now because back in 2009-10 I may have been thinking about it, but since then people are doing it. That is something that could have been cool, but at this point it may just be something that I missed the boat on. Then again, maybe I’ll just give it a shot for fun?

Right, so the reason you are here, let’s talk comics.

So, I want to talk about plot. I’m not going to go into a lesson on the traditional three-act structure or anything like that. There is ton of coverage on that, so go somewhere else for it.

I want to talk about plotting a comic as far as pages go. It doesn’t matter how many pages I’m writing, I always make sure I know the ending of the particular story or issue. I also make sure I know the beginning of the story as well as any key points in the beginning. The way I do it is by finding five key points to my story:

Intro  – Where are the characters and what are they doing?

Problem – Something crazy happens to our characters.

False Hope – The characters problem almost gets solved then gets worse.

Solution – The problem that got worse gets resolved.

Ending – This is what happens after the problem is solved.

Each of these can seamlessly be fused with what comes before or after it, if done correctly.

Although I may know all of that, I really don’t plot out my story into what happens on every page. I mean, as long as I know what has to happen at the end I just write. It’s more fun that way. Now, obviously I could do something like this because I write creator-owned comics and I’m not responsible for a pre-established character I’m doing a script on work-for-hire terms and I don’t have an editor. Whenever I do work-for-hire I typically bring my ideas and tell my editor what I have planned, showing them my five aforementioned points. If the editor likes it, I do my thing. If the editors wants to see more, I write quick one-sentence notes for each page, breaking down the story completely. Once approved, I do my thing.

I’m still working on my Kickstarter for SOUL MEN #1. The pre-marketing at soulmen.launchrock.com, where you should sign up your email for FREE Soul Men images, is going really well. One thing I don’t get though… The emails that have signed up are only 21% of the people that have visited the page. Yeah, I see that shit. So, I’m not sure what the hesitation is? If it’s because people don’t have interest, that’s one thing. However, if people are confused on what to do, I would love to know that so I could clarify. If they are just lazy then I can’t do anything to motivate them.

Kickstarter is hard work, but pre-launch marketing for a Kickstarter is harder. Ibai and I have been seriously figuring out every little thing we could do to help make people aware of SOUL MEN #1, so when we launch on May 31st we will have a good sum of backers on the same day. One thing that I’m really excited about is who we were able to get some endorsements from on the Kickstarter. Another thing that I’m excitedly amazed about is who might be doing a variant cover for us! We can’t say who at the moment, but if it goes down… Oh boy, are readers in for a treat!!!!

In other news, cunexttues.com’s new page this week as well as the last three weeks of pages deals with domestic violence. That is a subject that is not to be taken lightly in any way. It’s actually disgusting how in today’s more forward world this still comes up. I wanted to bring it to the history (we are currently doing a flashback) of C U NEXT TUESDAY because I feel this could be what has effect our bride, Tuesday, to become such a badass in the present.

When I was in highschool I knew a girl who had some problems like this. It was bad. She would tell us some stories and we would tell her that she needed to go tell someone, but she would just laugh it off like it was nothing… It was something. Long story short, eventually, she found some help and that whole mess got resolved.

Sorry for the downer…

In other news, I’ve been working on NINJA BASEBALL MAN and I’m loving the collaboration between Andrew Leta, comic artist, and myself! He actually lives in my town and is awesome because he is the only one of my artists that I have ever watched work. It’s pretty cool watching him on his Wacom in the middle of Starbucks, while drinking my large (“venti” is such a stupid name for large because in translation it means “twenty”) caramel macchiato. I’m really excited to reveal the art. I’m also pumped for the new direction that NINJA BASEBALL MAN creator, Drew Maniscalco, has in mind for the us and the franchise. I’m really hopeful for it.

Finally, today is the day that third issue in the series I edit, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW #3, at AA88 Press is released on ComiXology!!! Frank Mula (writer) is telling a really mature, but really gritty fantasy story. It’s everything you would love in an action adventure story geared towards adults. Take my word for it, make the purchase and you will not be disappointed.

Okay, time for me to get back to working on the SOUL MEN #1 Kickstarter page… did I mention you could sign up your email at soulmen.launchrock.com and get some free images from the book each week leading up to the Kickstarter Launch on May 31st?!

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