A new Change Log comic about social media and thoughts on making comics.
When I first created Ollie, I had a very different direction planned for him. He wasn’t really meant to be a permanent member of the cast. As I started writing him to be a typical dog doing dog things my mind wandered to different situations that would be really fun to throw him into. He’s a nice little naive dog, on the surface, but he’s also kind of a weird genius. I love the idea of that character trait applied to a character that is completely unexpected. Then I saw the news about another, real life, weird genius wanting to buy a social media company, it felt like the perfect opportunity for some comic strip nonsense.
Comic book storytelling - the Marvel Method and why I don’t like it
I guess the headline gave it away. If you’re not familiar with it, the Marvel Method, is a style of making comics that was started (or at least made popular) by Stan Lee back in his heyday of making comics. The basic idea is that the writer comes up with the plot, then sends that over to the artist to create the story from it. After the artist is done, the writer then goes back and adds dialogue, captions, etc. So I already let the cat out of the bag that I really don’t like this, from a creator’s perspective but let me explain why.
I’ve already mentioned a couple newsletters ago how difficult it is to nail really good visual storytelling. All aspects of the process of making a comic have to pull together in the same direction or it shows. To me, if the artist doesn’t know, at least for the most part, what the characters are trying to say, it’s really difficult to get the body language and facial expressions right. That’s like asking an actor to act out a scene without knowing his lines. Tweaking dialogue here and there after the art is done is a much different thing. I hate to be “that guy” but as someone who is more of an artist than a writer (working on that, though) it feels like a bit of a cop out for writers. I get the concept behind it. Giving the artist freedom to tell the story and if the writer/artist team is in alignment with everything it can work really well. For me, though, I think it works better if they are collaborative throughout the whole process rather than handoffs at certain points and that’s where this method can break down. I’ve read comics where there seems to be a disconnect between body language or facial expressions and the dialogue. I can’t say for sure that the team is using this method and that’s the issue or if the artist just doesn’t understand the scene, but it takes me out of the story rather quickly.
All that said, I’m open to other people’s thoughts on the subject so if you think I’m way off base here feel free to leave me a comment and tell me why. It’s possible there’s a benefit to the Marvel Method, but I’m not seeing it.
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