Creating a comic book is a very expressive art form that stimulates your imagination like no other. The first and key step is coming up with a story or basic plot. Read on, to learn key points in forming a comic book story.
There is no denying the universal and ageless appeal of a comic book. An escape from reality, a chance to see dreams and visions in print, a role model to look up to… the reasons are endless but comic books are a special form of literature that can turn even a reluctant reader into a bookworm.
And as with all forms of literature, you can write your own comic book, using your own ideas and imagination. While picturization and drawing are two key processes involved in comic book creation, the first step is coming up with a plot or storyline for your comic book.
Ideas for a Comic Book Storyline
✍ What sort of comic book do you want to write? Science fiction (the most popular choice), fantasy, action adventure, historical, comedic or slapstick, for kids, graphic and dark art… deciding your genre in advance, makes coming up with a storyline and plot much simpler.
✍ You need a hero or a heroine. The great thing about comic books is there are no constraints or rules! Create a whole civilization or galaxy to base your story on. A team or clan is another good point to start from. Different members with various powers or a unique clan, bonded together by a common cause… this is the starting point of your story, and one of the toughest parts.
✍ So once you’ve decided what is your comic book character, now it is time for the who. An interesting story or background is the next essential step. How was your character born or created, where did they come from, planet or galaxy? The possibilities are endless. Be creative and try to be unique. Avoid the tried-and-tested formula of “radioactive experiment gone wrong”. That may have worked for Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but it’s getting very old.
✍ A different planet or civilization is good but you need to be very imaginative and detailed about the planet and its characteristics or history. The transformation of ordinary Joe into superhero is another famous and successful element. It helps your readers connect with your character.
For a clan or team, it helps to have a backstory for each character and the team, in terms of how and why it was formed. Think of the X-Men. Each character has a unique story and reason for being there. Each character’s background story completely differs from the other, which just added to the storyline.
✍ The next point to add to your comic book story, is personality. Your hero/heroine/clan needs character and rules or a set of principles to live by. He can be a clean-cut, “straight as an arrow” type with clear ideals and with a firm purpose or goal in mind.
He can be the lone ranger, the anti-hero, the type who works on his own and is bitter and cynical but believes in the spirit of mankind and the hope of a better future. Something or someone from his past has made him the way he is today. Be inventive with character histories.
✍ Try to make your character multi-dimensional, with shades of gray, not black or white. Gotham’s knight or Batman is the ideal contrasting character. He is tough, hardened, bitter with a no-nonsense, hard as steel core. There is very little that can phase him and he seems to display no emotion. But he never compromises or bends his code of ethics.
✍ For comedy, make sure your character is funny with an edge of vulnerability. There has to be something lovable and cute at the same time hilarious about a comedic main character. The best examples to explain this character type are America’s favorite teenager Archie Andrews and Peanut’s Charlie Brown.
✍ Enough about heroes and heroines. The true icing on the cake of a comic book is the supporting cast, in the form of villains and sidekicks. Sidekicks are the comic element, whether superhero or slapstick. They can be goofy and clumsy or cool and sarcastic or a little mix of everything.
✍ Villains and enemies are key characters in superhero and science fiction comic books. Keep the “nothing is black or white” rule in mind and make sure your villains have an interesting backstory and motive for being evil.
The best villains, in this comic book fan’s opinion, are from the Batman comic franchise. From the super scary Scarecrow to the cool and suave Penguin, Gotham’s evil comes in all forms and types. Try to be as creative as possible in creating your secondary characters.
Comic Book Story Ideas
✏ Your hero is a nerdy teenager who is horribly shy and has no friends. One day he mistakenly activates a hidden time travel portal and is transported to a parallel universe, where Earth is ruled by a mysterious and much hated dictator. Our hero joins a band of rebels trying to overthrow the government and is captured and brought face-to-face with the dictator, who turns out to be his alternate universe self!
✏ A beautiful and talented girl is hired by a mysterious organization to teach its students. But when she reaches the Academy of Awesomeness (ASquare), she finds out it is actually a school for aliens trying to learn how to become human! At first she is frightened but she soon grows to love her students and the hilarity of teaching aliens about humans and their way of life.
The above story ideas are just short snippets to get your creative juices flowing. Starting the creation process is the biggest and most difficult step, when it comes to writing your comic book story. But after that, you’ll find that ideas and plots come naturally. From time to time, you may get comic book writer’s block, do not get frustrated, take a break and then try again. Your own comic book story is a wonderful way to express yourself and let your imagination truly take flight.