Monday, September 26, 2011

The Do It Yourself Comic - Editing

I've gone through quite a few steps on the way to creating my own comic - concept, design, plotting, and scripting - and now that I have a finished script in hand, it's time to do something with it. Instead of starting in on the actual art process (see: design), I'm going to spend some time editing what I've written and see what changes.

I won't spend too much time on this since the process has a dual nature. While I was writing the script I edited out certain things that weren't working, almost always because of space. The comic I'm setting out to make is 16 pages, and you wouldn't think only six pages less than the traditional comic book would make too big of a difference, but it seemed like it did. This partially might've been because I had the story in my mind, and written down as a loose outline. Without seeing it in the context of comic book pages, where I would have to worry about pacing the dialogue along with the overall flow of the story, I wouldn't be able to see where I might need to make cuts. I'm sure some people might spend more time on the outlining, and get every piece as meticulously into place as possible, but I didn't want to get bogged down on what will be a very small story. This one-shot shouldn't take me months to outline, so I got the basic gist of the story down and went ahead.

One thing I ran into immediately was having enough time to give my readers a sense of who the main character is. I had all of these aspirations of showing a storyline unfolding with the main character, but also giving the reader a sense of who the secondary character is, and that quickly went out the window. My goal to show how anger can affect us got whittled down to one central act, and the main character became the sole focus. Another thing from the original outline that was changed was the timeline. I had it written that I would show the main character at work over the course of two days, but that was impossible because of the page count.

Movies sometimes utilize a technique known as a "jump cut," which I'm pretty sure was the product of the French New Wave, or so David tells me. It's a method that can work beautifully on-screen, allowing the filmmakers to show the passage of time in large or small chunks, and present a visually interesting change that will keep the viewer engaged. In comic books, however, it can sometimes be too jarring, and only work in conjunction with captions or dialogue explaining the new surroundings. I utilized a few jump cuts, and did so for a few reasons. First, I was working with a very limited amount of space to tell my story. I needed to set up the main character's life, both in and out of work, and I wanted to show him at home to give the readers some kind of comparison between how he acts when he's alone, and how he acts when he's with people (or one person in particular). Second, after I realized my 16 pages were quickly being eaten up by the script, I knew that using jump cuts would be an easy way to cut out certain chunks of narrative, and do so in a way that served the story.

One of the bad things about editing as you work is it takes longer to produce a final product, and definitely presents the possibility of getting wrapped up in making the work perfect before it's even finished. Normally when I'm writing something I'll worry about editing later, but since this is such a short comic, one I can finish and not worry about sequels or follow-up issues, I didn't worry about getting caught up in the editing.

Most likely after I go back to the script and look over it I'll see pacing problems, or maybe plot points that don't make sense. I will definitely see dialogue that could be better, and that will be the majority of what gets edited. I'm going to go into it with my editing weapons out. Murder your darlings.


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