National Graphic Novel Writing Month, Day #6: Four-color, true grit, or somewhere in between?
By now, you should have an idea for a story, and you might even know who some of the characters are. Your next question: how are you going to present the story?
To quote the greatest criminal mastermind of our time: “Some people can read War And Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story.” How you present the story is very important.
Let’s say you were writing a Batman story… why not, everybody else has. What type of Batman story are you going to tell?
Remember, this is a character who’s a cheery Saturday morning cartoon on The Brave and the Bold but he’s also beating people to a pulp in The Dark Knight, a film that pushed the limits of PG-13. He’s a toy for toddlers, a sociopath in Frank Miller’s work, and sometimes just flipping weird in Grant Morrison books. And it all works.
But more on point, the tone of your story has to be considered. It’s easy to contemplate a noir Batman story, but you could just as easily write a science fiction Batman story. Or a comedy. Or a spy story. Or a fable. Or horror. Or musical comedy– okay, it’s tough to do musical comedy in comics, but it’s been done in other media.
And more importantly, you can tell the same sequence of events, but you can frame it in different ways. You can look at your buddy’s romantic troubles as tragic or hilarious– or both, if they’re like my friends.
This will also affect who your choice of artist will be. Granted, you may or may not have control of who will end up drawing your story, but you can write as if you are picking the artist. A Batman story drawn by Jack Kirby will feel much different than one drawn by Neal Adams, and that will feel different than a story drawn by Timothy Truman. But again, you can use that to your advantage. No one will expect a story drawn by, say, Gene Colan to be a laugh riot. And yet, there were a few funny Batman stories that he drew.
Tone is your secret weapon– people expect a comic book story to be told a certain way. Surprise them.
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