building a story

I haven’t written anything substaintial in a while. I write headlines and basic copy for work all the time. But I work with writers who make sure that what I might come up with makes sense and is spelt correctly and otherwise works. I don’t write on my own like I’m doing here.

Where to start?
I had some basic ideas of what I wanted and a general idea of some characters, but I needed to put something down on paper. I had four basic characters that I figured would be in the start of my story.

1. I decided that the rookie in my story would be female and named her Hannah Fox. And Hannah has been Hannah from the start.
2. Her partner became Lucas, but was originally named Joe which seemed too generic. So I started to do some research into names and decided that Joe would become Lucas Wilde and that fit better.
3. Jeremy seemed to fit Jeremy’s character right away.
4. And finally I renamed Linda and she became Jane.

Next I had to figure out what they do. Originally I was thinking they would work at a museum and then decided the CIA might be better. But I settled on a think tank because I always think of them as being slightly mysterious and you’re never really sure EXACTLY what they do. So why not investigate “unknown phenomena.”

But why?

Enter my next character: Agnosto Mercury. I was thinking he should be something like the Google founders. So young, smart and rich. I started wondering what would happen if one of these guys was abducted by aliens. Imagine the press coverage. And what happens if he disappears and comes back and says “Hey, I was abducted by aliens!” The character started to write himself. Here’s someone who believes in what happened so much that he can use his vast wealth and connections to start a company to figure out what happened.

What’s in a name
I needed to name my story and name the company that Agnosto started. This led me to two names: Edge and Verge. Edge was simple and to the point so the company became Edge. I liked “On the Verge” for the title because it had a nice ring to it. I dug around online and couldn’t find another comic called that, so my comic had a name.

My comic was starting to come together.

Putting everything together.
Around this point I started to realize that I needed to start small and work my way up to a larger story. There were a couple of reasons for this.

1. What’s the art going to look like? I had no idea.
2. How am I going to put all of this together into the final book? I’ve worked on several publications as a designer and know how I would do that, but what about a comic?
3. Lettering and typography… what’s my plan?
4. How much do I have to write? How much copy fits on a page?
5. Printing. This is a huge one to figure out. I’ve used Lulu and Blurb in the past with some success, but how do I want to print a comic?

And maybe the most important point that’s not listed above, is why? Or rather, who’s going to see this once it’s finished? I needed to put a plan of action together.

After a bit of thought, here’s what I decided: I was going to do a 12 page comic that was a lead in to the larger story. A chapter 0 or prologue. My thinking is that I can test run some characters out, give myself time to develop the larger story, see how the art looks, figure out the lettering, put it all together in to a complete package and then print it.

Basically, a lot of the decisions that I’ve had to make in the past couple of weeks are going to affect the finished piece. So a smaller book to start, to me anyway, is ideal. I can see what works and what doesn’t before I get to the full book. It should also give me an idea of how much time the whole process is going to take.

About jason

Illustrator and graphic designer. When not working full time as a Senior Graphic Designer, I am usually working on the graphic novel On the Verge: the Arrow of Time. Artist on Andrew Jackson in Space and The Sisters.

One Response to building a story

  1. Pingback: How did I end up with the title? | on the verge

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