So for all those of you who were unable to get a copy of our comic book "Who is Rocket Johnson?", I thought I'd post my story for you to see. It's Halloween themed so now seems like a good time.
The only requirement for the book was that each of us answer the question "Who is Rocket Johnson?".
Maybe after this I will go through it and talk about the process of creating every page. I certainly made a ton of mistakes and there are a lot of things in the final product that drive me crazy, but the whole process was a great learning experience so it seems worth writing about.
Here is part one; part two to follow.
One of the things that surprised me was that a few people told me they never read my story because there was just too much dialogue for them to read. I actually tried to be very disciplined about paring my dialogue down to the bare minimum, especially because I didn't know how to plan the placement of my word balloons and how to estimate how big I needed to draw them to fit all of the words - that's definitely something you don't think about until you try drawing your first comic book!
I didn't realize people had such an abhorrence to reading words in a comic book. I know that pantomime is the heart of animation and we all know that you should never use dialogue when an action or visual will tell the story by itself, but at the same time dialogue is another tool in your toolbox and should be used when it adds to the story. I love the characters Dumbo and Dopey as much as everyone else does and I would never say that they ought to talk. At the same time I would say that, without dialogue, I don't think Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck would be the great personalities they are. There are so many great animation characters that wouldn't be as great without hearing their voices: think of Woody or Buzz without their voices, or Shere Kahn, Bagherra, Tramp, Trusty, Jock, Captain Hook, Jiminy Cricket or any other number of great characters for that matter.
When creating dialogue for a movie or a TV show, a good rule of thumb, as I mentioned, is of course to never use words when an action or a visual can put the idea over better. Another good rule of thumb is to make sure that every line you write either carries the story forward or reveals the personality of a character, or in the best cases, does both at the same time. If a line of dialogue doesn't do either of those things it's probably either exposition or a line you're keeping just because you think it's either clever or funny. Those are both improper uses of dialogue and you ought to find a better way to accomplish what you're trying to do.