How To Create A Comic Book

From Concept to Distribution

young kid reading an exciting story
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Creating a comic book is a much more complicated process than people expect. It's much more than writing a script and drawing the images. There are many steps the mainstream comic book goes through and it can take an army of workers to produce. From idea to press, we'll take a look at what goes into creating a comic book so that you can know what to expect when creating your own.

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Collection of Old Comic Books
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Every comic book starts with this. It might be a question like "I wonder what would happen if an ancient warrior met a space alien." It might be a concept like time travel. It might be based on a character – like Captain Jaberwocky, the man with a monster trapped inside! All of these could easily be the basis of a comic book.

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This person, or group of people, creates the overall story and dialogue of the comic book. It could easily be that this person came up with the idea or concept on their own, but that isn't always the case. This person will give the basic structure, rhythm, setting, characters, and plot to the comic book. Sometimes the story will be completely fleshed out, with instructions as to specific comic panels and characters. Other times, the writer may give a basic plot, coming back later to add the appropriate dialogs.

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Once the story or plot is finished, it goes onto the penciler. Like its name suggests, this person uses a pencil to create the art that goes with the story. It is done in pencil so the artist can fix mistakes or change things on the fly. This person is responsible for the overall look of the comic and is a vital piece of the process, as most comic books are often judged solely on their artwork.

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This person takes the pencils of the artist and takes them to a final piece of artwork. They go over the pencil lines in black ink and add depth to the art, giving it a more of a three-dimensional look. The ​inker is also doing a couple of other things, making it easy to copy and color, as sometimes the pencils can be rather rough. Some pencilers will do this themselves, but it takes a different kind of skill set than the penciler uses. Although sometimes referred to as a glorified tracer, the inker is a vital piece of the process, giving the art a finished and completed look and is an artist in their own right.

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The colorist adds color, lighting, and shading to the inks of the comic book. Special attention to detail is critical here because if the colorist doesn't use the right colors, people will notice. If a character's hair is brown in one scene, then blonde in another, people will be confused. A good colorist will take an inked page and transform it into something that truly has life in it. It should be noted that some people have opted to forgo this part of the process, some to save money, others to get a certain look to them. Although most do not sell as well as a fully colored comic, many ​can, such as Image Comics, "The Walking Dead."​

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Without words to convey the story, your readers may very well be lost. During this stage of comic production, the letterer adds the words, sound effects, titles, captions, word bubbles, and thought bubbles. Some creators do this by hand with the aide of an Ames Guide and T-Square, but most people do this via computers.

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Throughout this process, the editor oversees production quality. If something is wrong, they get the creator or another person to fix the mistake, sometimes even doing it themselves. The editor is the last line of defense for finding errors and ensuring that it is a quality comic book.

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Once the comic book is finished, it is time to print it out. Typically this is in print, but sometimes it will be digitally. A printer is selected and paid for a certain amount of comics. Sometimes as quickly as a few weeks, the comic book can be printed and ready for sale.

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Once a comic is ready for sale, and often before it is even finished, it's time to get the word out. Press releases to websites and magazines as well as advertising in those as well will help get the word out. Review copies, when ready, can be sent to reviewers, if the comic is good, it can often get a head start with the buzz generated by the internet.

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You need a way to get your comic to the masses. The most common one is Diamond Comics, pretty much the distributor to retailers. The submission process is tricky, and you need to make sales quick, but it can be worth it to get your comic out to retailers. Other avenues would be going to comic book conventions, which happen all over the world. You can build a website to sell and ship them via mail and even foot slog it out to comic book stores and see if they will sell it too.

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