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Stan Lee’s 1947 Guide to Writing and Selling Comics

Stan Lee's 1947 Guide to Writing and Selling Comics

In 1947, when the late comics legend Stan Lee was in his mid-20s and was simply rising to notoriety, he contributed an article to Author’s Digest referred to as “There’s Money in Comics!” Within the article, Lee shares his comics writing secrets and techniques—together with concept era, working with artists and publications, laying out the writing with the pictures, and breaking into the comics market. His recommendation continues to be invaluable as we speak. Learn on to take a look at the complete article from 1947.

There’s Cash in Comics!

by Stan Lee
Author’s Digest, November 1947

Properly, what are you ready for? They’ve been publishing comedian magazines for greater than 10 years. They’ve been shopping for scripts for these magazines from freelance writers for that very same size of time and paying good charges for them. There are 92 comedian magazines showing on the stands each single month—and every journal makes use of a mean of 5 tales. It’s an enormous subject, it’s a well-paying subject, and it’s an fascinating subject. When you haven’t tried to crack the comics but, now’s the time to begin.

Unique cowl, Author’s Digest November 1947

It doesn’t matter what sort of writing you concentrate on—journey, detective fashion, romantic tales, or humorous materials, there’s some comedian journal which makes use of the kind of story you’d like to write. And, when you’ve damaged into the sector, you’ll discover that your assignments come to you at a reasonably regular tempo.

The pay is sweet. A reliable author can write about 10 pages a day for $6 to $9 per web page, relying upon the strip he’s writing and the standard of his materials. So, this comedian area definitely bears a reasonably shut scrutiny from any author who’s eager about receiving meaty checks, and in receiving them typically. (And I’ve but to see the author who isn’t !)

“But I’m not good at drawing! How can I work with an artist on a comic strip?” How typically I’ve heard that stated by writers.

Look! You don’t have to give you the chance to draw flies! You do want an creativeness, and the power to write snappy dialogue and to describe continuity. And what author gained’t lay declare to these skills?

Caricature writing could be very comparable to radio writing, or to writing for the stage. The radio author should describe sound results in his script, and the playwright should give staging instructions in his play. Properly, the cartoon author additionally provides instructions for staging and sound results in his script, however HIS instructions are given in writing to the artist, slightly than to a director. He should inform the artist what to draw, and then should write the dialogue and captions.

A pattern web page from a script of “The Blonde Phantom” follows. That is an precise web page, simply because it was typed by Al Sulman, the author. You’ll discover that the web page is roughly divided into two sections, the left-hand part containing the directions for the artist, and the right-hand part containing the dialogue. There are not any set guidelines as to margins and borders, the essential consideration being to be sure that the script is written clearly and might be simply understood by the editor and artist.

One fascinating facet of writing a comic book is seeing how the artist lastly interprets your script. Syd Shores used the copy above to draw one web page for “Blonde Phantom Comics,” problem #15. As you’ll be able to see under, the artist relied on the directions that Sulman typed on the left aspect of the script.


5 Parts of a Good Comedian Script

However there’s extra to cartoon writing than simply figuring out on which aspect of a web page to sort artist’s directions. Let’s attempt to analyze a number of the elements which go into the making of a superb script:

1. Fascinating Starting.

Simply as in a narrative, the caricature should catch the reader’s curiosity from the primary. The very first few panels ought to present the reader that one thing of curiosity is occurring, or is about to occur.

2. Clean Continuity.

The motion from panel to panel have to be pure and unforced. If a personality is strolling on the road speaking to one other character in a single panel, we wouldn’t present him horse-back driving within the subsequent panel with a unique character.

There ARE occasions when it’s needed to have a sudden change of scene or time, nevertheless, and for such occasions the author makes use of captions. For instance, if we’ve got Patsy Walker mendacity in mattress, about to go to sleep in a single panel, and need to present her consuming breakfast within the subsequent panel, the second panel would have an accompanying caption studying one thing like this: “The next morning, after a sound night’s sleep, Patsy rushes to the kitchen to do justice to hearty breakfast.”

Thus, by means of captions, we’re in a position to justify time and area lapses in our panels.

[Bob Woodward Gets to the Bottom of Things: Timeless Investigative Journalism Techniques (from Writer’s Digest 1996)]

three. Good Dialogue.

That is of prime significance. The period of Captain America hitting Pink Cranium and shouting “So you want to play, eh?” is over! Immediately, with the comedian journal enterprise being one of the crucial extremely aggressive fields, every editor tries to get the most effective and snappiest dialogue attainable for his characters. In writing a comic book strip, have your characters converse like actual individuals, not the inhabitants of a wierd and baffling new world!

four. Suspense All through.

Whether or not you’re writing a thriller script or a humorous script, the identical rule applies: Maintain it fascinating all through. Any cartoon by which the reader isn’t notably all for what occurs within the panel following the one he’s studying, isn’t a very good cartoon.

All the tips you have got discovered and utilized in writing different types of fiction can be utilized in comedian writing insofar as holding the reader’s consideration is worried. However keep in mind, giving the reader well-drawn footage to take a look at shouldn’t be sufficient; the reader should WANT to take a look at the photographs as a result of he’s fascinated by following the adventures of the lead character.

“One point which I can’t stress too strongly is: DON’T WRITE DOWN TO YOUR READERS!  It is common knowledge that a large portion of comic magazine readers are adults, and the rest of the readers who may be kids are generally pretty sharp characters.”

5. A Passable Ending.

An ending which leaves the reader with a smile on his lips and a pleasing feeling that each one the unfastened strings of the story have been neatly tied collectively can cowl a mess of sins. It has all the time been my very own conviction that a strip with an fascinating starting, good dialogue, and a passable ending can’t be TOO dangerous, regardless of what number of different faults it might have.

Writing a Comedian That Will Promote

One level which I can’t stress too strongly is: DON’T WRITE DOWN TO YOUR READERS!  It’s common information that a big portion of comedian journal readers are adults, and the remainder of the readers who could also be youngsters are usually fairly sharp characters. They’re used to seeing films and listening to radio exhibits and have a reasonably good concept of the tales they need to learn. Should you determine that “anything goes” in a comic book journal, a research of any current copy of Daredevil Comics or Bat Man will present you that quite a lot of thought goes into each story; and there are many gimmicks, sub-plots, human curiosity angles, and the opposite parts that go into the making of any sort of excellent story, whether or not it’s a comic book strip or a novel.

One other essential level to keep in mind is: The one method you’ll be able to study comics is by studying them. As far as I do know, there are not any faculties which give specialised programs in caricature writing and no books which might be of an excessive amount of assist to you. Fixed studying of the varied comedian magazines is the one method to develop a “feel” for what constitutes an excellent cartoon.

One other consideration of prime significance is: Determine which comedian journal you need to write for earlier than you do any writing. The varied magazines within the subject have editorial variations that are virtually all the time superb. A narrative which Well timed Comics would think about thrilling could be deemed too incredible by True Comics, Inc., and Basic Comics, Inc., would have little or no use for the kind of story most popular at Fiction Home! Every comedian publishing firm has its personal distinctive components, and the one approach to actually grasp this formulation is to learn the magazines.

Navigating the Comics Business

Most everyone is aware of one thing concerning the group and workings of an odd fiction publishing firm. However to most individuals, writers included, a comic book journal publishing outfit is cloaked in thriller. Let me inform you slightly about how a comic book home operates so that you simply’ll have a greater common information about this massive however comparatively unknown subject.

The man you’re most fascinated about at a comic book publishing home is the editor. “How does he differ from editors of other types of magazines?” Right here’s how: The editor of comics is extra of a coordinator. He not solely considers the deserves of a script, but in addition who’s going to draw it and whether or not it’s written in a fashion that may go well with the artist’s fashion of drawing.

If the artist who attracts Hedy De Vine has problem drawing crowd scenes and focuses on close-up photographs of lovely ladies, then the editor of that journal have to be cautious not to purchase Hedy scripts which name for a lot of characters in every panel and for a lot of lengthy photographs.

It’s the editor’s activity to make it possible for the scripts he buys are completely fitted to the artist to whom they’re given, and additionally to be sure that the artist interprets the author’s script precisely as the author meant it.

In fact, there are some artists who write their very own scripts, however they’re within the minority. The typical artist, despite the fact that he could also be able to writing his personal script, due to his long-standing familiarity with the character he attracts, would nonetheless want to have a author write the script for him in order that he can focus completely upon the drawing.

Subsequently, you, as a author, ought to acquaint your self with the type of artwork work which is used within the script you have an interest in writing. After which slant your story in such a approach so that exact fashion will mix in completely together with your story. The writers who consider such particulars are those who attain prime recognition and prime charges within the phenomenal comics subject.

Selling Your Comics

Now then, right here you’re, a reasonably completed author fascinated with making an attempt your hand on the comics. What sort of writing is your forte? Is it journey, teenage humor, fantasy, true crime? Choose your favourite comics journal and write to the editor to get an inventory of the magazines he edits, and, if attainable, his story wants. After receiving the listing of magazines he sends you, head for the closest newsstand and look them over. Choose the one which appeals most to you and for which you assume your type is greatest suited.

However up until this level your preliminary work is simply starting. You’ve now received to learn each copy of this journal you’ll be able to lay your palms on. Suppose Georgie is the journal you chose. Get previous copies of Georgie, get present copues of Georgie, and depart an order for future copies. Learn that strip till you are feeling you’ve recognized Georgie personally for years, and can anticipate what every Georgie story shall be about after studying the primary web page. Stay with Georgie for days—get the Georgie formulation down pat—and then…

Ship some synopses of Georgie tales to the editor. Make them the identical kinds of tales which had been showing in all the problems you learn. Not the identical PLOT, jus the identical TYPE of story.

Ought to your synopses click on, you’ll get an order for a Georgie story from the editor. He’ll inform you what number of panels to write per web page, what number of pages in size to make the story, and different related info.

Now it’s up to you. In the event you write a wonderfully passable story (and there’s no purpose not to, in case you’ve studied the magazines lengthy and rigorously sufficient) there’s a good chance you’ll be requested to do extra tales on the identical character—and afterward, maybe, further tales for nonetheless different characters.

So, these of you writers who’re itching to crack new markets have a market ready for you that’s simply made to order. It might appear just a little difficult, however the rewards are properly value any time you could spend studying the comedian fashion. I’m positive you gained’t remorse spending the time—I didn’t!

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