Paging every screenwriter who is eyeing the comics medium: PLEASE READ THIS:

Do you really have to pick shots? Think hard on this one. Do you really have a good sense of what will make a good picture, or do you just feel like you’re supposed to do it because it’s your job? Because it’s not, necessarily. You can almost always tell an artist what really needs to happen in a scene, and she will have opinions on how that should all go down. And she’ll be taking composition into consideration, and balancing lots of visual elements. Can you do that? It’s not really necessary with a good artist, she’ll do it anyway. But if that isn’t a strength of yours, then don’t impose such notes on our artist.


  1. On the other hand, I know a few writers who have faced tough story-telling challenges when they’ve had to rewrite dialogue and narration (and plot) to accommodate an artist who wasn’t reading the script very carefully …

  2. Echoing post 1, that’s assuming the screenwriter is working with an artist that’s good at storytelling, which isn’t always the case. A friend of mine used to go on an on about a particular artist he launched a book with, that he could damn near just leave a plot outline and dialogue with and have the art come out perfect, only be followed by 4 b-list replacements that couldn’t even follow the script.

    This is highly dependent on who the artist is.

  3. I follow Neil Gaiman’s example: explain everything clearly, allow the artist to do what they do best, and remain open for communication. Sometimes I explain a layout I want for a certain storytelling effect (three panels on a tier to connect a conversation).
    The big question is: how much storyboarding, thumbnailing, layout should the writer do while writing the story?

  4. I really don’t mean this in any kind of disrespectful way– seriously, I really don’t, but most of us aren’t Neil Gaiman. There are a lot of writers out there who are domineering about their scripts, and the comic is lesser for it. Good artists working in comics are storytellers themselves, and panel shape/size, or camera angle, is the kind of thing they specialize in. Trust your artist a little… give them room to breathe in your script.

    Is there a chance you might have to rearrange your dialogue a bit? Maybe, but sometimes that’s not as bad as you think. I think it can kind of insulting when a writer sends an artist thumbnails and layouts of every single page– it’s condescending and controlling. And for the writer, it means they’ll miss out on one of the best things about making comics– the collaborative give and take. And many times, its arrogance on the part of the writer, assuming its ‘their’ vision, when really, it should be shared.

    I think people who follow Jeff’s advice here are going to find themselves working with better artists most of the time. Because good sequential artists probably have a passion for telling stories, not just slaving like a zombie over someone else’s storyboard.

  5. Im a newbie, in the writing world.I been working on poetry,short stories,cartoon caption ;self expression writing,and a children picture book story. As a kid,I love to read comic books.My imagination,was always to have some super-human abilities.

    I think, I want to give comic book writing a try also! I have great imagery and plots as a writer.Just need to learn the rope of comic book writing!
    Any suggestion?