Comics are a beloved pastime. They have played an important part in America’s history and even war efforts, with Superman winning the battle for good. Comics are like movies in print.
Lots of people, young and old, still dream of drawing comics. Even if you don’t draw well, you can still make a comic strip. There are comics out there that are just stick figures. If you learn the basics of writing, panels, and pacing, you’re on your way to a fun comic strip.
Know Your Audience
Consider what audience you want to reach out to. Teens? History buffs? Fans of a certain genre of comics? Aim it at them. Think of your ideal fan. How many panels would they want to read?
If you’re doing it online, or even off, most comics people nowadays draw using a graphics tablet with a pen. Then they color in Photoshop or various art apps. You can even use a tablet PC for drawing. Or, just use a pencil and eraser. Or you can combine them by scanning in your pencil drawing then working digitally.
Themes for Comics
First, think of a theme. Do you want it to be funny, satire, a slice of life? Your own life can be a model, or take a look at those around you. What are the treads of the day? What’s it like to be an office worker, like Dilbert? A married woman, a single man, a teen, a middle-schooler? There’s oodles of info available, and a need for comics to explore these themes with a unique viewpoint. Watch people closely. They are grist for your creative mill.
You need some characters–a main one and a few supporting ones. Make your “character bible.” Make a list of personality characteristics. Find something new, unique, and relatable about the characters. For instance, think of the musings of Cathy, the observations Garfield, the funny duo of Calvin and Hobbes, the wisdom of Snoopy, the endearing bumbling of Dagwood in Blondie. Or go back in history and have some fun, like in Hagar the Horrible. You can always add more characters to keep creating new story lines.
Now start drawing your characters. Try different angles, facial expressions, gestures, and postures. Show how they act and react.
A setting is also important. It can be suburbia, in the past or future, like the Jetsons–the present is fine too. It can be school, college, a convent, a spaceship… the sky’s the limit. It can be a city that you create. It can a real city.
Make some panels
Panels are the boxes the comic takes place in. There are usually the same amount per strip. SHort strips usually have three or four (think of Snoopy) with an occasional longer story. Your comic can be hundreds of panels if you want. But we suggest keeping it simple in the beginning.
Think of short tales with a beginning and end for each strip. Pacing is important. The end should refer to the beginning.
Color is optional for a comic strip. Black and white can work great. But color is a lot of fun too. Newspapers used to run color only on Sundays, and on those days the strips would be longer. A daily comic is a lot of work. Set your schedule for how often you want your comic to come out. It’s up to you. Once you’ve decided, join online comics communities to share your work and put it on your own blog. Before you know it, you might have a following!
Making comics is rewarding and fun. It lets you express yourself and your opinions in a quick way. It’s a time-honored art form and anyone with just a pencil can do it!