Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Keep Talking

Dialog is a tricky thing to pull off in comic books. Every word balloon has its own rules about how many words they should contain, because each one will inevitably cover some part of the art work. Speech should be concise and to the point; unlike a book or a script, where you can run wild with it. This is an often overlooked, but unique feature of the graphic novel that presents a challenge to the writer, and also points out the difference between working on manuscripts for different media.

My formal training is as a script writer for film. Screenplays have very definite rules that the writer should follow, even though they are used mostly as a guideline for cast and crew than an immutable bible. Movie scripts focus more on who, where, how, why, and when; with an emphasis in dialog. Camera angles, props, costumes, action scenes, and even the dialog can change as the manuscript travels through the different departments and talent in a production. The witty banter of Pulp Fiction would be hard to reproduce in a comic book, since space is always an issue. As much as the letterer blends the word balloons with the art, the fact remains that something will be obscured by the dialog.

Since Metasearch is a one-man-effort, it is easy for me to edit my own dialog to suit my panels, but I can’t deny the fact that I find myself doing that all too often, and I keep reminding to myself “this isn’t a screenplay.” Going through every stage of the creation of a graphic novel has been an immense learning experience. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out