How to Become a Comic Book Writer

woman drawing an anime comic

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Most comic books are a team effort. While some comics are written and drawn by the same creator, most are a combined effort of a writer and one or more artists. The writer of a comic book tells the story through words, which the artist then turns into pictures. The writer is the visionary of the team, creating the basic world, characters, and plot. They produce the scripts that the comic book artists and colorists use to create the art. Comic book writing requires a lot more than just talent, the ability to work well on a team is a necessary skill.

Skills Needed

A comic writer needs many skills to be successful.

  • Good communication skills: The writer usually has to collaborate with artists and editors to make sure all the elements of the comic come together.
  • A visionary mind: While the writer isn't responsible for creating the comic's art, they do need to have some idea of what they want the panels to look like. Comics are a visual medium, which means the text and the images need to work in tandem for the comic to work. The writer needs to have some idea of what kind of images each scene requires.
  • Strong grasp of grammar: Having a strong grasp on grammar is a must for any professional writer. There are many online tools that you can use to check your writings spelling and grammar.
  • Flexible attitude: Things don’t always go like you plan. An editor might want you to do something different to your script and change a scene here or a bit of dialog there. Being flexible will allow you to keep your vision as well as get your comic finished.
  • Professional behavior: Missing deadlines at work is never a good idea and this holds especially true in the comic book industry. Missing a deadline means your artists have less time to complete their end of the job. Forcing others to rush or miss their own deadlines is never good for business. You want to avoid having a reputation for being rushed or flaky.

Equipment Needed

Basic Equipment

  • Writing utensil: Your writing utensil could be as simple as a pen and paper or as complex as a computer. Use what works best for you. The argument for pen and paper is pretty simple, it’s readily available, portable, and doesn’t take time to start up. Writer Neil Gaiman has written many of his novels by hand. At some point, you will need a computer to type your final draft but if you're more comfortable with a pen keep using it.
  • Dictionary: A dictionary of some sort is vital, knowing how to spell words correctly will only add to your professional appearance.
  • Thesaurus: Having a bank of words to choose from can be a great asset. It will keep your work from sounding repetitive and stale.

​​Optional Equipment

  • Idea file/notebook: Having a place to store those flashes of brilliance can be a lifesaver. Nothing’s worse than having a great idea one day and losing it the next. Director Guillermo Del Toro keeps a notebook with him at all times, filling it with ideas, pictures, and thoughts about his latest projects.
  • Website: Having a website can be a very important part of the writer's career. It can do many things, including giving a way for fans to connect with you, promote your latest projects, and even keep your résumé on file. 
  • Books: It has been said that good writers are also good readers. Knowing how others approach the craft of writing can give you insight into the process and ideas to try something new. Don’t just read comic books, read any great writing that you can find.

So You Want to Be a Writer?

If you are serious about being a writer of any sort, the best thing to do now is to start writing. It can be summed up from Sci-Fi great Robert A. Heinlein, “You must write.” Think, dream, envision, and then write it down.