August marked the sixth year anniversary of my webcomic, "Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord"
, and throughout the years many have asked me one question or another about the process of making the webcomic (or any project I'm involved with, really).
So I thought now is the perfect time to answer all these questions in one place. Every Thursday for the time being I will post the different process I go through to produce this comic. This is not a tutorial per se. This is not the "right way" to do your comic, this is simply my way of doing it.
If you have your own way of doing it, or have further questions, by any means share in the comments section below or go to the new community forum and feel free to express yourselves. With that in mind, let me share with you my particular process and resources that are used to make "Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord"
. To read part part 1 click here http://www.truthfulcomics.com/1/post/2012/08/the-making-of-tmw-part-1-pre-productionresources.html
Also, click on the images to make them bigger.
My Writing Process
When it comes to my personal writing process, I tend to adapt depending on the project, depending if it’s a personal project, an ongoing project, a short term project, or a collaborative project. For the sake of this being basically a tell-all about Warlord, I’ll limit myself to how I write this particular series, and if there’s enough demand, I’ll elaborate more on my other methods.
As I mentioned before, I am a very story oriented person. When I think of Warlord, usually I think about a plot or a certain scene and go about it. Now, I also keep in mind the distinct personality traits that I try to infuse each character with, so I try to see in my mind how each character would react differently to the same situation.
A Matter of Character
In real life, every person is a world, with their own strength and weaknesses, virtues and faults. Everybody reacts differently to certain situations, and that’s something I try to do with the characters in TMW. I try to give them their own individual traits. Like for example, there’s Fred who tends to over think almost everything to the point of being oblivious to things around him sometimes, which usually affects his relationships to those around him. There’s Marilyn who tends to be a bit redundant in her speech patterns when she starts to feel threatened or get in a bad mood, basically repeating herself subconsciously. And it can be something more subtle, like when Jane is feeling more introspective or sad, she starts twirling her hair.
What I usually do is just remember traits from friends, family, or even myself. In every character in TMW there is a little bit of myself stamped in those characters in some ways. What also helps is something I read a long time ago, and that is to be open to listen to what strangers may say in a place like a bus stop or a mall. That’s not to say to eavesdrop on any and every conversation, but sometimes there are these people that can be so loud, they can really say some gems! Things that make you go “ohhhh, that so sounds like something this or that character would say!” or “wow, him or her would have reacted so differently”.
Also questioning your characters is a good way to help develop them. One thing I read early on that really helps you is this simple, yet fascinating, question: What is your character feeling right now and why is it feeling that way? Also scattered all throughout the internet are various memes and questionnaires that asks more deep questions about your character that can really help you flesh out the personalities more. Also, giving your characters unique personalities definitely helps when a scene requires to have non of the characters be visible, but there speech is there, and the only way to identify which character is which is going to have to be determined by the personality trait of the characters to be able to tell them apart.
To me, having good characters with these human traits makes a story all that much better, because readers can identify with these characters, even if sometimes they agree or disagree with the course of action a character might make, the problem still makes the reader identify and relate to them.
I usually plot the storylines in long term since this is a dramatic, long story. So each arc I pretty much develop the plot of the storylines into three acts, the set-up, the consequence, and the resolution. I think of a conflict that’s the overall theme of the storyline. Like for example the first 11 chapters of Warlord, which I call “book 1”. The main theme in that story is about love and sacrifice. In those 11 chapters it can be divided into 3 separate stories but with that running theme trough out all 11 issues.
So, after I think of the main theme and conflict of the story, I piece together the series of events that begin to unfold, brainstorming how one character will react to another character or situation. And most importantly, what are the consequences to those actions and reactions? Once I think of the situations and think out particular scenes, then I start typing.
Writing The Script
For TMW in particular, I don’t write a full script, but I don’t just draw of from just the plot either, I kind of mesh the two together. After I’ve thought out the storyline and how long it will be, I divide up the story into the individual chapters. When I start typing up a chapter, rather than write a full script since I’m also doing the artwork/lettering/editing on it, I mix everything up.
I start, again using the three act method, chopping up that chapter into 3 parts. I type down the plot of the first act, and write the vast majority of the dialogue of the act, without any page count or indication of where to draw what. And then I just repeat it for the other two acts of the chapter, writing the plot of the act followed by the dialogue. After writing it I re-read most of what I have written before so I can keep up with the continuity of the story. It’s very important to go back and read, even if you think you know what you’re doing, because we’re only human, and many times even when we don’t realize it, we may forget something that happened before that could affect the continuity of the story and could get a bit messy, so it’s important to keep tabs on what you did before.
Before I start fleshing out where I’m going to draw what and finalize the script, I read the dialogue portion out loud. A very old, common trick, but incredibly useful. If the dialogue sounds like it’s flowing naturally and doesn’t sound awkward, you’re good to go. But if it’s something on page (or screen) looked good to you, sometimes it doesn’t really translate well when it’s spoken, it could affect the story. Many times readers will pick up on how awkward a piece dialogue reads and whatever idea you wanted to try and develop may get lost, so it’s always good to not only proof-read for errors on the script, but to read aloud as well to make sure it sounds right. If it sounds right and natural, it will read right and natural.
After I finish proof reading and reading aloud, that’s when I save up everything and print out the script. Also, because in a way because of my background studying in communications, even after I finished writing and printing the script, I’m still not finished writing. Sometimes mid-scene while I’m drawing, I decide to either eliminate a scene, or add on to it if I feel it needs to be explored more, so I have that movie or TV director mentality of “the script isn’t written in stone” and change and adapt if necessary. On the next blog, I’ll explain how I go from the printed script to the art side of things. Thank you for reading, and remember, this is not the “right” way to write, as I mentioned, there are plenty more ways of writing, just that this particular way is the most comfortable way for me to write this particular story, feel free to agree, disagree, or share your own ways of writing. Until next time, once again thank you for reading, and stay safe!
~Alvaro “Lance Danger” Cortes Ortiz Jr