The DC Guide to Writing Comics by Dennis O’Neil is a quick little romp through the utter basics of story structure, scripting, and dialoging.
Having been a huge fan of comic books for as long as I can remember, I’ve always had the desire to write and publish my own mainly just because I think it would be fun. For me, sequential art has always been a medium that ties together well-written prose with artwork that’s exciting and and full of detail.
If you don’t know the first thing about writing comic books, then I’d recommend this as an excellent place to start. Sure, O’Neil spends a lot of time on the very basics of storytelling, informing the reader of what’s necessary for Acts I-III. While you might be able to pick this up just from reading a single issue or complete story arc in a current title, it’s great to have a small reference book for your shelf that doesn’t require you to thumb through hundreds of pages to find the info you seek.
My favorite section offered up was that on scripting. Comic book scripting is one of those things that’s very much dependent on person preference or publisher. It helps the aspiring comic writer find the style best suited for him or her and provides interesting exercises in one’s ability to adapt to whatever the project requires. For effect, O’Neil juxtaposes his scripts with the finished product so you can see how artist interprets the writer’s ideas and direction.
Even if you have no desire to write a comic, this quick read will give you an appreciation for how the books are constructed. If nothing else, it will remind you that even though it only took you ten minutes to read a single issue comic cover to cover… the creative team spent weeks channeling their creativity into the medium.
It’s important to note that regardless of the fact that Batman and Superman adorn the covers of this book, the suggestions, tips, and tactics within are applicable to all styles of graphic storytelling. The section on plot structure alone should earn this a spot on any writer’s shelf.
TO SUM IT UP: Basic story structure as applied to comics. Straight. To the point. Written by one of the best in the biz.