Whenever I do school visits, I’m asked how a comic page is put together, so I thought I’d take you step by step through the first page of my Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor comic.
It all starts with a description of the page in the outline. This is a run down of the story that is sent to the comic’s editor to make sure that they’re happy with it. As this is Doctor Who, the same outline is also sent to the BBC for approval. Here’s the description of what would become page one in my outline:
The Doctor is shocked. He’s looking out into space and we can tell from the look on his face that all is not well.
So far, so simple.
Now, when the editor has approved the storyline, we go to a script.
Here’s the script for page one:
There are lots of different templates for comic strips. This is the one I use. As you can see, it is separated into the different panels that will make up the page, with a description for the artist in each. The dialogue is listed by the character’s name, and there are instructions for captions – the little boxes that will contain text. There’s no sound effects on this page, but if there were, I would include them here too. Those numbers by the character’s names are there to help put the speech bubbles in the right order later in the process.
So, that goes off to the editor and the artist. In this case, our artist is a very talented comic book illustrator by the name of Blair Shedd. He looks at the script and comes back with a rough sketch of the page, which looks like this:
We discuss the layout, highlighting any changes that we think should be made and once everyone’s happy, Blair goes away and produces the art work. Some artists work in pencil and inks. Blair works straight onto the computer. When he’s finished the inks he sends them through.
More checking happens before the colours are added. Sometimes a different artist colours the pages, but in this case Blair did it himself.
We’re nearly there. The page just needs something else – the words! So, the artwork goes off to a special kind of artist called a letterer who, you guessed it, adds the letters.
Nearly there. Now, I just need to read through the words, to make sure everything links up and also make any last minute changes.
We have a page!
Of course, this is just the first page of the issue, so the process has to happen for the next 21 pages too!
I hope you enjoyed that little glimpse of how we work on Doctor Who: The Ninth Doctor. You can imagine how exciting it is to receive each different stage of the artwork. I’m usually bumping up and down in glee.The weird things is that Blair and I have now completed three issues of the comic and we’ve yet to meet face-to-face. Everything has been done via email as Blair lives over in the States and I’m here in the UK. That’s all about to change, however, as we’re finally meeting at San Diego Comic Con next week. I can’t wait. In fact, I’ll tell you all about the con next time! In the meanwhile, you can check out more about the comic by visiting my blog. Here’s a link to all the posts about the Ninth Doctor comic. Issue two is out now, with issue three coming soon!
If you have any other questions about creating comics, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them!