After graduating from college, I lingered in the academic world for a few months, holding desperately onto my receptionist job in my school's Art Department for as long as I could muster. When there were lulls, in between buying posters of The Royal Tenenbaums or checking out a Lord of the Rings blog (told from the perspective of all the guys competing with Legolas's prettiness) I explored the wonderful, wide world of webcomics. Each of the ones I regularly checked in on left me with a Format Idea, in one way or another:
- Scott McCloud's Zot showed me the limitless possibilities of "the infinite canvas" of websites
- Jason Little's Bee Comix dazzled me with its color
- Derek Kirk Kim's Same Difference impressed me with carefully crafted panels
I kept pulling little influences from the various things I was reading, trying to piece them all together into a story that I wanted to write. Not just write - but read. And convince myself this was a worthy thing to do. (Note to future webcomickers - never let yourself worry about what's already out there or everyone who's better than you is already doing it - just keep going and dig yourself a little niche of your own!)
Apart from webcomics, I was also heavily influenced by Terry Moore's Strangers In Paradise, which taught me that a world featuring an angry, beautiful, tiny yet vicious female protagonist was possible.
Things I knew I wanted to include in the story (overall):
- Strong female protagonist
- Meddling gods
- A snapshot of life as an outcast at college
- Discovering who you are at the same time you're expected to map out your life plan
- Comparing the similarities between modern life and greek mythology
So once I had my Format Influences, and my Themes to include, I had to think about Structure. I tried a couple of different angles to approach my story:
- Start off with a teaser scene - something powerful and random, that could slowly be revealed over the rest of the story.
- Start after a major incident had happened, then over the course of the story, refer back to it.
- Start right at the beginning - introduce the main character as she's being introduced to a new school year and living situation.
After a lot of wasted paper and ink and notes (since I had so foolishly plunged headlong into #1 and #2), I started my 3rd attempt at story telling. I didn't bother worrying too much about planning out all the details, I just wrote. This was the first inkling I had as to what motivates me, personally, as a writer. If I'm dragging my feet on the story, or the dialogue, or the scene, then I'd better change it. There's no slogging through a part just to get to the cool ones - if you're slogging, your readers are giving up on you.
And again - this week is mainly about my process as a writer/comicker, and how I navigated through the process of creating my first webcomic. By no means is this a how-to for budding comickers! ... More like a cautionary tale. :)
Altogether, I had my format (utilize the vertical infinite canvas, add color, try to structure the panels as neatly as I could), my themes, and my structure. Next step - character development!