Over the summer, I signed up for Comic Book Writing with Ron Marz, a brand new class offered by Jacob Krueger Studio. Earlier this year, they began offering free Quarantini classes, where writers get together virtually each week and do writing exercises led by Jake and various special guests. One week, the guest was renowned comic book writer, Ron Marz, and they promoted his brand new course with the studio. It didn’t take long before I signed up, and I’m so happy I did, as I not only wrote my very first comic book script but got it made!
Throughout the 4-week course, Ron taught us about the ins and outs of writing comic books. I listened intently and took copious notes, eager to learn about this industry of which I knew very little. While I’m not an avid comic book fan, I’ve always had a lot of respect and admiration for the medium’s place in pop culture, as it’s where so many of the most beloved, timeless superhero and supervillain characters originated, not to mention the eternal classic that is Peanuts. Coincidentally, a few years ago, as I was getting more into drawing, I purchased and read a book titled Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud, which was brought up in class as a valuable resource.
As Ron explained in our first class, comics are frozen moments in time, single images that tell a story. You, as the writer, have to pick out what those images are, what images best tell the story you want to tell. The goal going into the course was that, by the end of it, we’d have a 6-page comic book script we could present to an artist. He showed us examples from his own work, comparing the script to the finished product. Our first assignment was to come up with an idea, write a summary of the story and then break down what happens on each page of the comic.
In a burst of inspiration, I completed the assignment immediately after the first class had ended. I went back and edited a couple of things the following day, but the characters and resolution were all set from the start. I’d had the idea for Rosy—a little girl whose face glows when she blushes—sitting in my head for a while, though I didn’t know in what medium she’d be brought to life until taking the class.
As artists do, I decided to draw inspiration from art that inspires me. In this case, when coming up with the plot, I took from the brilliant Nickelodeon show, Avatar: The Last Airbender, which has seen a new wave of popularity this year thanks to the series being released on Netflix back in May. In particular, I was inspired by a lovely moment in the Book Two: Earth episode, “Chapter Two: The Cave of Two Lovers,” when Aang and Katara lean toward each other just as their torch light goes out, and they share a kiss in the darkness. The crystals hanging above them light up the cave, allowing them to find their way out. As the legend they’d learned about stated, they trusted love to lead the way.
There’s a hint of a love story in A ROSY GLOW, but more importantly than that is Rosy’s arc about finding her self-confidence. At the start of the story, she doesn’t know what her superpower is, or even believes she has one, only to discover her power completely by accident. However, I did note in the script that one could argue her true power is her sensibility that allowed her to come up with a safe way to get out of the cave.
The story is also about how embarrassment can be a strength. I loosely based the character of Rosy on myself since, as they say, write what you know. I know I blush easily. It used to bother me when I was younger, especially anytime someone would point it out by asking, “Why is your face so red?” Regardless of how innocuous the question was, my face would only grow hotter when attention was brought to it. I’ve long since learned there are benefits to blushing easily, so if you get embarrassed easily like I do, just know that if anything, it’s considered endearing.
I will also say that prior to taking the class, I was led to believe that comic book scripts are written in a similar format to screenplays in terms of descriptions and dialogue. As I now know, that’s not at all the case. As Ron explained, there’s so much to take into account with your real estate on any given comic book page, whether it be the number of panels or the amount of words per speech balloon.
As for the script itself, it’s broken down into a two-step process: panel descriptions and dialogue/captions. Ron stressed to us that, in general, you should err on the side of providing too much information for the artist when it comes to panel descriptions. I enjoyed the fun and completely new challenge of breaking down the details in my script of what exactly is happening in each panel right down to the facial expressions and where the characters are placed.
When the course came to an end and I had my completed script, I felt extremely motivated and determined to find an artist to bring my 6-page comic book to life. I commissioned Sam Kays (@samBkays) to make it, and she kindly agreed to let me share each step of the comic book coming together. Enjoy!
CHARACTER SKETCHES AND ROSY CHARACTER DESIGN OPTIONS:
ROSY AND CHASE COLOR DESIGN OPTIONS:
FINAL CHARACTER DESIGNS:
I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I hope reading it brings a smile to your face like it does for me. Like Rosy, may you find what makes you glow.