It’s been almost a month since the PCW switched to its new comic format, and overall, I think that the transition over from single-panel to multi-panel format has worked out pretty well. Writing for a single panel comic is radically different than writing for a multi-panel. I’ve had some time to digest both approaches, and here’s what I’ve come up with.
1) With the single panel approach, the most effective comic is one where the visual itself encapsulates the gag – with no caption or word balloon needed. These are very difficult to pull off day-in and day-out.
2) Many single panel comics have captions or word balloons (or both). In this case, the visual should always serve as the set-up for the writing. What I’ve found is – the shorter the caption / word balloon – the better. The idea is to have the least amount of text to convey the gag when possible, with the golden ideal to have the visual completely encapsulate the gag by itself. Many times I would begin with a single visual that encompasses the general point I want to get across (aka the gag), then work around it with the caption.
3) With multi-panel comics, writing is the key focus. I’ve found it very difficult to start off with the drawings, unless the comedy is slapstick in nature (and I avoid slapstick as a rule of thumb). When I prepare my multi-panel comics, I first create all the necessary text for each panel. The writing sets up the visuals. After penciling the comic, the writing may be further massaged or streamlined. Again, the goal I have for myself is: The fewer the words, the better.
4) After working in the multi-panel format, I find it rather difficult to switch back to single panels. Each week, I think - okay, maybe this week I’ll do a single panel comic, but so far, I haven’t created one for pcweenies.com. I think its largely because the approach to each is opposite from one another, and once I’m thinking in one mode, it’s hard to switch back to the other.
Anyway, that’s a brief look at the approaches I take when writing both types of formats. My next biggest hurdle is: do I want to work in some type of continuity and craft storylines? or simply keep each strip stand-alone? As I gain more of a foot-hold with multi-panels, hopefully I’ll be able to do both…
P.S. New Uncubed today!