The Strength of Your Medium

“​Comics are words and pictures. You can do anything with words and pictures.”
– Harvey Pekar

What makes a good comic writer? Having only written a couple myself, clearly, I’m not gonna be the guy who gives you a definitive answer. Heck, for this post, I’m gonna just focus on one aspect of what makes a good comic writer.

Part of the reason I bring that question up at all, really, is because I’ve been thinking about the projects I wanna take on, once Work-Life Balance hits the shelves—at least one and a half of which would be comics. (Yes, one… and a half. I swear, this’ll make sense if I can actually execute ’em.)

However, I raise that question also because I’ve been watching Elsa Charretier‘s excellent videos on the craft of comics, and this one stuck with me the most.

In it, she shows how she would adapt a scene from Reservoir Dogs into a comic. The choices she makes—what to change, how to pace the story, the layouts—all add up to a fascinating look at a creator’s thought process.

I’d seen something similar when Ben remixed Mr Memphis, but Elsa’s translation provides a much more comparable parallel. She’s adapting this scene from one visual medium to another, and she does so with what only comics can do in mind.

I think that’s one of the things that people don’t talk about enough when they discuss what makes a good comic writer. Yes, you need to be able to just tell stories and, yes, you absolutely should have a collaborative spirit, but you need to be able to understand the strengths of this medium specifically, and how to work to those strengths.

Now, again, let me stress that I’m a guy who’s helped write only two kids’ funny books, and Ben does all the heavy lifting on the comic side of our collaborations, but I’m also someone who’s devoted more time to studying the craft of this medium than I did to pretty much any subject in school.

With that in mind, do you guys wanna see me talk about stuff like this a bit more in these posts? Let me know on Twitter.

Get New Posts via Email