I get asked from time to time how I go about tackling a monthly comic book script. I wrote down the steps I currently go through the other day for a friend, so I figured I'd share here. This is just the way I do it... this month. It changes from time to time. One is always hoping there's some magic formula that will make it easier... better. For now, this seems to work for me, except for the times when it doesn't.
Step One- I make tons of notes on what the issue is about, what the arc is about (if there is one) and what happens. These are sometimes hand-written. Sometimes not. This assumes I have already handed in some kind of outline for the arc I'm working on. That outline is sometimes quite brief. On occasion, it's not much more than a paragraph's worth of solicitation copy.
Step Two- I build a 22 page document and write a paragraph at the top of each page. Just saying what's going to happen page by page. This lets me know how the pacing is working out. I try to be very mindful to keep things loose… I don't want seven panels on every page. I also don't want four. I try to keep it at a five panel norm, with a few big shots or splashes thrown in.
Step Three- I go through the script and write dialogue. I can already see what's going to happen on each page. Now I start to build the conversations and narrations. I try to make this pass good, but not too good. I will have another shot at this. A couple of shots, in fact.
Step Four- I go through again, writing the art direction now. At this point, I break the action (and the dialogue I've just written) into panels. I write everything I think the artist may need to know. I also read and tweak the dialogue again.
Step Five- A final pass. I re-work dialogue, format things properly, bold words for emphasis, get rid of my notes at the top of each page, count the pages to make sure I haven't gone over or under, etc. One last chance to make it as good as I can.