One of the thrilling parts of comic book publishing is realizing that these action-packed, visual stories are wildly popular genres enjoyed by readers of every age. Traditional comics depend on the antics of superheroes like the Marvel characters to lead readers through crime-fighting storylines, and these comics are just as popular with young readers as they are with grown-ups.
Japanese-style manga comics look and feel different than traditional comics by employing an artistic character style unique to the genre, and manga’s popularity with young readers has spilled over into young adults in recent years.
And independent comics are widely read by comic book enthusiasts of all ages because they use unique, engaging characters without being bound to superhero or traditional manga storylines.
Transforming an Idea into Comic Book Publishing
Combining art and text into comic book publishing that readers will love can be daunting, but if you have a great character concept or a penchant for visual storytelling, comic book publishing is the perfect avenue to reach readers.
In seven basic steps, you can turn your superhero, manga main character. or comic story into a manuscript ready for comic book publishing. Do you have great ideas for a comic book but no idea how to transform them into a readable, organized book? Start here to turn your comic character and world ideation into a concrete, print-ready comic book.
1. Firm Up Your Story for Comic Book Publishing
The story, its characters, and the world they live in are at the heart of your comic book’s success, so the first step in transforming your idea into comic book publishing involves shaping up your story. While comic books don’t take the format of a traditional novel, they still contain a plot, character development, and story arcs that take place throughout the book.
Create an Outline. First, create an outline of your book’s plot that provides the framework for the story’s main events. Structure the outline to indicate where scenes take place, which characters are involved, and what the main event, activity, or concept is for each scene. Don’t try to write the story at first.
Instead, the outline accounts for all of the actions you want to take place in the story. If needed, you can also create a timeline to help you visualize the events, when characters interact, or any other visual cue to help you organize your book’s concept into a workable story.
Write the Script. Once your outline is solid, put your story into manuscript form. Writing the story in script form gives authors a chance to add details that will be used in visual storytelling like character descriptions, the mood, and tone of a scene and character thoughts and feelings.
Focus on Creating Dialogue. Since the most common way information is passed to the comic book reader is through dialogue, try to shift most of the story into conversations between characters or as a character’s internal dialogue.
2. Transfer Outline to Storyboards for Comic Book Publishing
For comic book publishing that your readers can see as well as read, you have to transform your story into a visual representation on a storyboard. Comic panels are the standard formatting for this genre, and a storyboard is essentially a rough sketch of what your book will look like once the story has been transferred into a panel format.
But this first placement of your story onto storyboards, whether completed digitally or written and sketched out by hand, has two purposes.
First, a storyboard helps the author to finish the story’s pacing, make sure that the scenes are ordered correctly and add in (or take out) content that will make the story flow well. And secondly, the storyboard is the location the author gives the artist their vision of the comic book publishing.
Most of the time, the author is not the artist, so the author’s contribution to the storyboard, however rough in form, helps the artist to understand how the author’s characters, places, and story will come to life.
3. Partner with an Artist for Comic Book Publishing
Usually when an author wants to become a self-published author, they don’t have to partner with anyone but their printing company by acting as their own writer and editor. But the highly stylized appearance of comic books makes working with at least one other professional a good idea for authors without strong artistic or graphic design skills.
A skilled artist will be able to look at the author’s storyboards, and after conferring with the writer, translate the sketches into a formal design. It is the artist or graphic designer’s job to bring the characters and the story to life using the author’s sketches as the inspiration. This phase includes a black-and-white rendering of each panel of the book that stays true to the author’s intentions for how the characters, locations, and ideas are presented.
Talented artists may be able to provide helpful suggestions and artistic flair to the storyboard’s designs, but authors should communicate expectations ahead of time with the artist if any changes or suggestions will be welcomed or expected.
4. Finalize the Panel Art
When the artwork for the comic book has been completed, the panel art will need to be finalized through a two-step process. To develop comic book publishing content that readers will love, authors must ensure that their book’s appearance falls in line with what readers expect from this genre, including the inking and colorization of the art.
Inking: The initial drawing of the panels is completed in black, but the inking process provides depth and character with black ink to both the figures and any graphic elements in the panels. For manga-style comic books as well as some independent comics that will remain black and white, inking may take the place of colorization by providing a gray-scale effect.
Colorizing: The final step is adding all color elements to the artwork. Often a very limited color palate is used for comic book publishing and color is also utilized to imply emotion, tone, or to complement the storyline in some way.
5. Add in the Text for Comic Book Publishing
The next stage is to add the text to the comic book’s pages. Authors may choose to do the lettering digitally, but the traditional method for this step of comic book publishing includes hand-lettering of the dialogue, speech and thought bubbles, word art, and any blocks of text used in the book.
Many modern writers love the uniformity of digital lettering, ensuring the consistency of text throughout the book as well as the ability to manipulate text easily when an unexpected change needs to be made. But even though the traditional method of hand-lettering offers an element of character on the page that only lettering artists can provide, both methods of lettering are common.
6. Preparing Your Manuscript for Comic Book Publishing
To publish comic book content your readers will love, you now have to turn your focus to the formatting and design of your manuscript.
Cover Design: An eye-catching cover design accomplishes more than one critical task for your comic book. First, it helps signal to readers of your genre that your comic book might be something they want to read. When authors pick a cover design that they personally love but doesn’t fit in with genre norms, potential readers may overlook the book, based on the cover alone.
While adding something unique to the cover is a great way to make your book stand out, the cover design should have similar characteristics to other comics in your genre. Secondly, the cover needs to give potential readers an idea of the book’s contents. The cover should hint at what is inside, like the mood, tone or themes of the book so the right reader will find your comic.
Working with a cover designer can help you create a winning cover that snags the attention of the right audience as well as help you include key elements on your cover like an ISBN bar code so retailers can sell it easily.
Page Numbers: If you are using a book template to design your comic, page numbering is built in. If not, make sure that your book is numbered correctly, and that the page numbers don’t interfere with the artwork or lettering.
Page Breaks: Many graphic novels and comic books use page break designs to indicate a change in the scene, setting, or tone of the story. Consider if your story could benefit from this visual element.
7. Pick an Experienced Printer
The final phase of bringing your idea to life is to work with a business that has experience in comic book printing. Not all printing companies can offer you the knowledge that comes with partnering with comic book authors for decades.
Dazzle Printing can not only bring your dream of authoring a comic book to life with gorgeous materials and quick printing options.
Once you have delivered the PDF manuscript file to the printer and ordered your first box of books, the only thing left to do in the comic book printing process is to begin thinking about what type of marketing will help you get your book into the right reader’s hands.