I mentioned the difference between writing prose and scripting comics earlier, and I thought it might be fun to show an example. Last year I wrote a 2 page comic called The Orb, with art from my partner in crime Rebecca Teall. In case you didn’t get to read it, take a look at it now.
The art really does the heavy lifting with this story, with a fair few silent panels. Here’s the script for The Orb.
NOTE – I see this as a nine panel grid on each page, and I think it might be a nice touch to have circular panel borders to reflect our spherical theme. You are the artist, however, so I’ll trust your judgement!
Panel 1: An empty patch of woodland floor, quite close up, so we can see individual blades of grass etc.
Panel 2: A marble rolls into the empty patch, shiny and polished. Where has it come from? Who knows!
Panel 3: The marble settles into place, filling the centre of the panel, out of place amongst its natural settings.
Panel 4: Two woodlice enter the scene – anthropomorphised a bit so we see an intrigued expression on their faces.
Woodlouse 1: What is it?
Panel 5: The woodlice keep a respectful distance from the marble, never having seen its like before.
Woodlouse 2: I think it’s come to watch us.
Woodlouse 1: Or judge us?
Panel 6: More woodlice have gathered to gaze at the marble, but we can still see our original two, addressing the others.
Woodlouse 1: Friends, the orb has come!
Woodlouse 2: We must pay tribute.
Panel 7: The woodlice all curl up into balls, their form of tribute to the orb.
Panel 8: Woodlouse 2 pops out of his ball to look at the orb, the others still curled up.
Panel 9: All of the woodlice have left, except for woodlouse 1 & 2. 1 is still curled up in a ball. 2 is watching the marble curiously.
Woodlouse 2: I wonder what it wants?
Panel 1: The marble sits alone on the floor, a bit dirtier than before, a leaf having settled next to it.
Panel 2: Woodlouse 1 & 2 re-enter the seen, with smaller woodlice in tow.
Woodlouse 1: Here it is. The Orb.
Woodlouse 2: One day it will uncurl and reveal itself.
Panel 3: The woodlice from the previous panel curl up into balls in tribute.
Panel 4: It’s a bit muddier around the marble now,later in the year. The marble stands impassive as several woodlice trudge past, ignoring it.
Panel 5: Several smaller woodlice play in front of the marble, which is getting grubbier.
Panel 6: The grass has grown around the marble a bit obscuring it slightly.
Panel 7: As 6, but with Woodlouse 1 & 2 returning, obviously older now.
Woodlouse 1: Perhaps one day. One day it will reveal itself.
Woodlouse 2: Perhaps. And then it will tell us what it means.
Panel 8: The to woodlice wander off, not looking back at the marble.
Woodlouse 1: One day.
Panel 9: The marble sits, impassive, refusing to give up its secrets. Possibly forever.
As you can see, I’m not the most descriptive of writers when it comes to setting out panels. The content and design of them was down to Becs, and I didn’t have to go into too much detail about what were actually seeing. The end result is not necessarily what I saw in my mind, but a happy melding of the pair of us. It’s the collaborative nature of comics that makes it so much fun. What ends up on the final page is a result of us working together.
To contrast that with prose, I would have to describe the marble, it’s surroundings and the woodlice; not to mention create the general atmosphere as well. It’s necessarily harder, but it is a very different process. I have more control over what the reader sees in the end product, but am solely responsible for any failings that may result from that.
I’m not sure that I prefer one form over the other. I’ve had more experience with comics than prose, but I enjoy both. I suspect I’m better at comic scripts than prose, but I am an awful judge of my own work.