How to Create a Story Idea for an 8-Page Comic | #8PgChallenge

Story Idea Creation Design Header

Story concepts for an 8-page story tend to be fairly short. You’ll need to describe your idea in 1-3 paragraphs.

Here is a sample story idea. This is the story idea for an 11-page backup story for “Avengers Assemble,” an all-ages anthology by Marvel Comics. We will use this story example and the final comic to help you through the learning process.

After this, check out Step 2 and Step 3.

[Sample begin]

Avengers Assemble
Hulk & Thor vs Terrax & Thanos

Springboard #1: To Infinity and…Asgard
Upon hearing that an Infinity Gem is buried in stone on Asgard, Thanos orders Terrax to move mountains to retrieve it. Unfortunately for Terrax, Thor is in Asgard to escort Dr. Bruce Banner and Janet Van Dyne to meet with Asgardian scientists to discuss ways to help Banner control his alter ego (Hulk), of whom he is gradually losing control.

Thor and Wasp try to help the Asgardian forces defend Asgard (without Bruce). Who is reluctant to Hulk out. But when the battle turns and Wasp appears injured, nothing can stop the Hulk.

Literally, nothing…can stop…the Hulk. His rage is so extreme that when the Infinity Gem is discovered, he slaps across Asgard. What started as a fight turns into a crazy, comedic fight-chase-fight adventure. Thor is chasing the gem, and Hulk chasing Terrax, who just doesn’t want to get caught. Until Thanos shows up.

Thanos gets by Hulk and Thor and soon gets his big, fat hands on the elusive gem. The only thing standing between him and victory is the tiny Wasp. She zaps the gem, temporarily shrinking it down to the size of a grain of sand, which is too small for Thanos’ beefy hands.

This gives Hulk and Thor just enough time to deliver a one-two punch heard ‘round the universe.

[NOTE: The story above can work in New York City or at Mt. Rushmore, if anyone should ask how the villains got into Asgard in the first place.]

 

[/Sample end]

Avengers Assemble Time Will Tell CoverIt’s important to note that the original story pitch was slightly different. I worked with my editor Darren Sanchez, who gave me feedback and suggestions. The final story was drawn by comic book legend Ron Lim and is published in Avengers Assemble: Time Will Tell.

Let’s break this down…

[Breakdown begin]

It may not seem like much, but in this part, I am noting the title of the comic, which is “Avengers Assemble” and I am noting the characters who will be featured. It immediately lets my editor know that these are the primary characters.

Avengers Assemble
Hulk & Thor & Wasp vs Terrax & Thanos

You’ll notice that this is labelled Springboard #1. That’s because I submitted four ideas and this was the one selected. I also added a catchy title, which may get renamed later.

Springboard #1: To Infinity and…Asgard

Below is just a quick setup. we are establishing that this is a cosmic story taking place on Asgard. Thanos orders Terrax. That’s the setup. The villains want something.

Upon hearing that an Infinity Gem is buried in stone on Asgard, Thanos orders Terrax to move mountains to retrieve it.

Now the immediate conflict that is preventing Terrax from completing his mission. “Unfortunately for Terrax” immediately signals the conflict between what the character wants and what stands in his way.

Unfortunately for Terrax,

Thor is in Asgard to escort Dr. Bruce Banner and Janet Van Dyne. Okay, now we have the heroes in the same location. Remember, this story is 11 pages. We have to get to the intersection of characters quickly.

Thor is in Asgard to escort Dr. Bruce Banner and Janet Van Dyne to meet with Asgardian scientists

And below we make note that the Hulk will make an appearance. This is an all-ages comic, so we’re going to have to be clear that Dr. Bruce Banner is the Hulk. We’ll do that here.

to discuss ways to help Banner control his alter ego (Hulk), of whom he is gradually losing control.

We note that we’ll have Thor and Wasp try to defend Asgard. But the Hulk is there like a proverbial shotgun above the fireplace.

Thor and Wasp try to help the Asgardian forces defend Asgard (without Bruce). Who is reluctant to Hulk out.

Comics are visual. We want the Hulk. The Hulk will arrive…unstoppable.

But when the battle turns and Wasp appears injured, nothing can stop the Hulk.

Literally, nothing…can stop…the Hulk. His rage is so extreme that when the Infinity Gem is discovered, he slaps across Asgard. What started as a fight turns into a crazy, comedic fight-chase-fight adventure. Thor is chasing the gem, and Hulk chasing Terrax, who just doesn’t want to get caught.

And then there’s a twist in the story.

Until Thanos shows up.

Thanos gets by Hulk and Thor and soon gets his big, fat hands on the elusive gem.

What was once a battle among larger-than-life titans becomes really small. Another nice twist, since we can’t exactly have a character (in this case the Wasp) and not use the character. This story is too short to have any unnecessary detail.

The only thing standing between him and victory is the tiny Wasp.

So we show that the Wasp uses her powers in a way that is consistent with her established character. There’s shrinking and zapping, but she can’t defeat Thanos alone.

She zaps the gem, temporarily shrinking it down to the size of a grain of sand, which is too small for Thanos’ beefy hands.

And this is the payoff. Hulk and Thor deliver a knockout punch. The three Avengers have worked together to solve the problem.

This gives Hulk and Thor just enough time to deliver a one-two punch heard ‘round the universe.

This last bit is letting the editor know that the story can take place in different visually stimulating locations. Sometimes there is a reason why you can’t use a character or a location, so it’s helpful to let your editor know that you can make this work in another location. That saves some back-and-forth time in the process.

[NOTE: The story above can work in New York City or at Mt. Rushmore, if anyone should ask how the villains got into Asgard in the first place.]

[/Breakdown end]

 

One Last Thought

Does the plot and script match this breakdown? Mostly,  yes. I’ve made a promise to my editor that this story will be consistent with my story proposal.

That said, in the next post, we’ll look at how the plot breakdown differs from the proposal.

If you’re following with the 8-Page Challenge, you’ll need to register on the Comic Book School forums and post your story idea. The other people on the boards may give you notes and feedback to help you with your story.

Create your 8-page story idea. If you need additional information, contact me directly at buddy@comicbookschool.com.

 

Getting Feedback

If you’re creating a comic, it’s important to get feedback from multiple people. Seek out people who are willing to give you honest, timely feedback. It’s also important to work with people who will give you feedback on your revisions as well.

Think about what makes your story interesting and worth reading. In general, short stories are challenging because you have to trim anything that doesn’t directly serve the story.

Where To Find Inspiration:

  • Saturday Night Live
  • YouTube sketch comedy shows

Your own back issue boxes:

  • Heavy Metal magazine
  • Dark Horse Presents
  • Marvel Comics Presents
  • DC Comics 100 Page Spectacular
  • Negative Burn
  • Archie Comics
  • Richie Rich
  • Scoobie Doo

 

About the Comic Book School 8-Page Challenge

After this, check out Step 2 and Step 3.

Read the announcement for the 8-Page Challenge

Register on the Comic Book School forums and post your story idea.

 

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