Welcome back, creators. In the Step 1, we reviewed how to plan a story idea for an 8-Page Story. In Step 2, we looked at how to break down your pages and plot. You should read that post before you read this one.
Now, let’s get to the hard part…revisions
Step 3: Plotting Your 8-Page Comic Story
In this post, we’ll roll up our sleeves and start the hard work of revisions. In the last step, we showed more or less how to break down the pages. It’s a good starting point, but you need to make sure the pacing is correct.
Let’s review the page breakdown for this Avengers Assemble issue and see if this all works.
Revising to Pace the Story
Pg1 Opening, establishing. Asgard, Quinjet w/Thor, Wasp, Banner
Not the world’s greatest opening, but it gets the job done. Since this is an all-ages comic story, I’m spending a few minutes setting up location and character. There’s a bit of necessary exposition.
My goal here is to end the last panel with a tiny cliffhanger.
Pg2 Quinjet attacked, downed.
Payoff on this page. We’re going to get right into the action. Plus, I know that the artist (Ron Lim) has just drawn a talk-heavy page, so I need to balance with an action page.
The Quinjet under attack will look cool, so I want to leave room here for the artist to tell a good visual story.
Pg3 Thanos & Terrax established. Thor vs Terrax.
In a full issue, we may not go right to the villains, but this is a tight page count. Hence, we need to establish the bad guys doing bad things. Again, I’m writing for a younger audience, so we need the character conflict to be as visually clear as possible.
In terms of pacing, we have set up everything in the first three pages. We’re also getting right into the combat.
Personally, I like to put the credits box on either Page 1 or Page 3. In this case, it will go on Page 3.
Pg4 Thor in danger. Outmatched vs Terrax & Thanos & rock creatures. Wasp injured.
We know that Pages 4 and 5 are facing pages. We need to use this to both (a) continue the main action and (b) establish something else…character motivation.
For now, I’ve identified both Wasp and Hulk as temporarily vulnerable. I know that by the end of this story, we’ll be twisting it around for maximum effect.
We’ve also separated the team a little, as Thor is off battling. This will be important later.
You read a Hulk comic to see the Hulk, so we don’t want the readers to wait any longer. Plus, Bruce is the only non-costumed character, so getting him in his “costume” is an important visual requirement.
The artist will need room to transform Bruce into the Hulk, so we’re going to only have one major action this page. The artist will decide how to play this out, not the writer.
Pg6 Hulk vs everybody.
Again, this is a visual story, so we don’t need to ruin it with a complex plot or too many word balloons.
Hulk smash. Readers enjoy.
Pg7 Hulk battle distraction.
The most important thing on this right-hand page is to end on something that propels the story. The Hulk is fun, but also uncontrollable.
We’re going to throw our first twist here. The Hulk’s actions have accidentally created an opportunity for Thanos. The battle will reveal something unexpected.
Pg8 Thanos to get stone. But wait…
Despite the presence of superheroes, Thanos appears to be poised to be the victor. The only one who can stop him is the Wasp. She’s got cool powers, but will seem outmatched by this epic villain.
We need to reinforce the difference in size and physical power between Wasp and Thanos to make the next part work.
Pg9 Wasp squares off against Thanos.
Despite being physically outmatched, the Wasp holds her position. She shows her bravery and heroicism. This makes you wonder what Thanos will do…and if Wasp can stop him.
Pg10 Wasp, Hulk, Thor – Avengers Assemble!
We will end on this last-minute knockout punch of Thanos. We don’t have much room, so I have revised the pages to get to this page.
Plus, it is a key aspect of a team comic to have them doing something that shows teamwork. This had to be here to make this story work.
It will end on the punch. I rearrange the plot multiple times to get to this scene.
Even with a punch, you have to end on something. So I leave one page for an epilogue. It’s hard, but it’s necessary to put an ending on the story. So again, I rearrange until I have a climax page (Page 9) and an epilogue (Page 10).
This entire process takes me several hours. The shorter the page count, the harder it can be. You have no buffer, so you must trim anything that doesn’t contribute directly to the climax on Pages 8-11.
When I turn this in to my editor Darren Sanchez, I do not know who the artist will be. So in the next step, I will get into the details.
My script, which we will review next, will have panel by panel breakdowns and full dialogue. I know that the artist may decide to make changes to improve the story, so I will have one last look before the comic is lettered.
Talking to the Artist Ron Lim
This is an actual published story in an issue of Avengers Assembled. The artist on this is Ron Lim, who will join us for a live chat (or two) to discuss his art process.
This is the issue the story appears in, even though my name isn’t in the credits.
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About the Comic Book School 8-Page Challenge