How to Format a Comic Book

Now the fun part… THE SCRIPT!

1. WHAT A COMIC BOOK PAGE LOOKS AS A SCRIPT PAGE

Start your script by signifying which page we are on in the top right corner. Then use numbers to signify what panel you are writing action for, with character and dialogue beneath the action like so:

You continue writing this way until you have written out all the panels that will make up the page (remember, 4-6 panels a good rule of thumb per each non-splash page). As a general rule, no more than TWO characters should exchange dialogue in a panel, as those dialogue balloons over their heads take up more space in the panel than you’d think!

Often times, one comic book pages is more than one script page. This is normal and depends on how much is being described per panel. There’s no “norm.” The norm is what your story dictates page-to-page. A good rule of thumb, however, is that 3 script pages is probably way too much for one comic book page. On average, you will have two script pages to equal one comic book page, but there is no tried-and-true rule for this.

2. SOUND EFFECTS!

When the story calls for a necessary sound effect, you must WRITE OUT the sound effect, which the Artist will then draw for effect in the panel. Below is an example of what a sound effect might look like in your script:

I like to BOLD my sound effects to make it easy for the artist to find them on the page. And here’s a fun rule about writing out what the effect actually sounds like: WRITE IT AS IT SOUNDS! Whether its change hitting a tile floor, a slamming car door, or a fist smacking a gut, write whatever it sounds like in your head and chances are the reader (and artist) will know EXACTLY the sound you are trying to get across, i.e. air escaping a tire (SFX: SPPSSSS!); a punch to the gut (SFX: WHUMP!); fingers typing on a keyboard (SFX: KLACKITY-KLACK-KLACK-KLACKITY!); sniffing (SFX: SNIFF-SNIFF-SNIFF!)

3. TRANSITIONS

If you have passage of time in your story, you’ll want to tell the reader as much. This is easily achieved with a “TRANSITION” box, which you can write after your panel number. Below is an example:

The artist will draw this as a small rectangle in the corner of your panel. Speaking of those dandy little shapes with words inside them…

4. VOICE OVER OR INTERIOR MONOLOGUE

Say you have a character who is narrating over the panel art, or it’s a passage from a diary or book, or a voice inside someone’s head. You can use a “transition” box to achieve this affect by simply writing the dialogue inside of it too.

Those are the nuts and bolts of Comic Script Writing 101. Now here’s the most important thing to remember as you begin your journey…

5. LET YOUR IMAGINATION GO WILD!

The absolute beauty of writing comic books is that if you can imagine it, you should write it! Unlike live-action writing for TV, film, or Stage, where the constraints of budget, human performance, and special effects vastly limit your landscape, comic books allow you to take your story and characters to ANY plane, ANY time, in ANY way you want! So don’t be afraid to push the limits and dream big. You may just end up being the next Alan Moore or Bob Kane… but only YOU can stand in the way of striving for such success! If you’re good, lucky, and work hard, you’ll be attending Comic Cons, signing autographs, and avoiding stalker FanBoys in no time!