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What is the Format for Writing Comic Books?
By Tucker Cummings
Source: Panel One
OverviewThere is no concrete, formal guide to formatting a comic book script. Each writer does it slightly differently and may use a slightly different style depending on which artist he is working with. The script is basically a letter to the artist and contains every piece of information the artist needs to create the world of the comic and tell a visual, sequential story.
You may want to purchase copies of the books listed in the resources section, which show actual comic scripts from famous creators. This may help you to see how seasoned writers communicate their ideas to the artists who bring them to life.
StyleAlthough each writer uses a slightly different format, the overall style for a comics script is not unlike a script for a play or a movie. You will need to establish the location for each scene, write dialogue for the characters and indicate sound effects, unvoiced thoughts and captions. You will also need to break down the action of the story into pages, then into panels.
First, list the page number and panel number. Next, give a brief description of the visual contents of the panel: what we see, expressions, colors, camera angle. Note sound effects, thoughts and captions.
Some common abbreviations used in comics scriptwriting include: OP - character speaking off-panel; SFX - sound effect; THOUGHT - thought bubble; and CAP - caption.
One example for one panel might look something like this:
PAGE ONE PANEL ONE
We see a shadowy figure waiting at a bus stop. His face is obscured, but we can see blood on his collar. Lightning is striking behind him.
SFX: Lightning crash.
CAP: It was a dark and stormy night ...
FIGURE: Ugh, my head!
Miscellaneous DetailsEach page of your script should contain a footer that lists the title, issue number, page number, writer's name and contact information such as a phone number, agent's phone number or email address.
The font used should be legible, such as Courier or Times New Roman. There is no required font, but you should avoid using uncommon fonts, especially when submitting scripts electronically. This will minimize the risk of your document failing to load properly.
ProgramsVarious programs you can use to create your scripts include Microsoft Word, Final Draft and Five Sprockets.