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Editor's note: Chris introduces this month's writing challenge — creating your own comic — with a rather stunning comic of his own. Read on for the rules, then open up MS Paint and get drawing! -Brett
Like I said above, I created this comic using only Microsoft Word, Paint, and a printer with scanning abilities. It's not the best way to make a comic, but it works if you have no other way of doing it. Here are some more tips for those of you who'd like a little extra help:
Write the script first. Everything about the comic's actual content that you can finalize early means less backtracking later.
Draw thumbnails of your panels. This will give you a clearer idea of what you're going to draw later. I would limit the number of panels per page to six or seven at most. Not only do most graphic-novel layouts follow this pattern, but it's much easier to read word balloons and avoid clutter.
Set the panels on your computer. For this I opened Microsoft Word and selected Insert -> Picture -> New Drawing. I extended the size of the drawing box to the size of the page and then used the rectangle tools to create panels.
At this point, I also added my text and word balloons using AutoShapes -> Call Outs. This is the easiest way to create word balloons without doing them yourself, but there are two disadvantages: The variety of word balloons is limited, and it's very difficult to go back and rework text later.
For text I used Comic Sans MS with size 12 bolded font. I'd advise against writing text by hand unless you're confident that your handwriting is legible.
Print out the panels and draw out your vision. In keeping with the cheap approach, I first drew with a normal No. 2 pencil, then outlined using an ultra-fine Sharpie pen. If you have something more upscale at your disposal, I would definitely suggest you use it.
Scan your drawings back into the computer. Use your computer's basic photo-editing program to crop out white space along the edges.
Use an image-editing program to iron out any major drawing errors. I did mine with Microsoft Paint, but if you have access to Adobe Photoshop or another robust editing program, use that. It'll be much easier to edit text and make changes.
Still, Paint works if that's all you have. When I uploaded my pictures, a lot of my leftover pencil marks showed clearly from the scan, but due to Bitmob's width constraints, they're too small to see anyway. Focus on gray smudges and other big errors instead of going insane over minute details.
You can use this time to put in text and word bubbles as well.
Bitmob won't let you upload images directly onto the site, so use an image-sharing site like Deviant Art, Photobucket, or Flicker to hold your images. After that, link to the comic using the Image button on the Article Editor. Keep the width of the image 607 pixels or less.
Tag the article with "Comics Zone" and any other relevant tags and post. Congratulations, you're done!
Again, this isn't the best way to do complete this challenge, but it's a way to do it with programs that almost everyone has. If you know how to streamline this process, please leave a comment below.
– Anything by Scott McCloud. Understanding Comics and Making Comics are great introductions for the medium.
– Any instructional books by Will Eisner. Eisner was a master of storytelling, both in action stories like The Spirit and in nonfiction books like A Contract With God. The comic industry's top annual awards, The Eisners, are named after him.
– Your local library.
– Zero Punctuation's take on copycat webcomics. Some food for thought before you get to work.
– While I don't agree with the premise, Cracked.com's recent article on political cartoons does show some of the bad habits that undermines the message the cartoon is suppose to send.