Editing comics

I’m currently reading a book on editing comics that I got from Kickstarter: Filth & Grammar by Shelly Bond. The book is all about what a comics editor does.

One main part is about what a comics editor should look for when giving feedback/requests to the author/artists. One thing it really emphasises is that every page of a comic should have around 3 or 4 bolded words to indicate speech stresses. If a page comes in with no words bolded, send it back and tell them to bold some.

I’ve long noticed that comics seem to do this – have multiple bolded words on each page. But I always thought the propensity of bolded emphasis words in comics was way too overdone. I find it distracting and annoying. I wonder who in the comics industry decided that comics had to have bold-emphasised words on every single page.

In other news, I got an invitation for DALL-E today, and I’ve been playing with it a bit, generating some artwork. Not too much because it’s easy to burn through your 50 free credits and have to start paying money to keep using it.

It also came with some free credit to try using GPT-3 text generation. I gave it this prompt:

Write the rules for a Euro-style board game based on medieval monks brewing beer.

And here’s what GPT-3 produced:

1. The game is played with two to four players.

2. Each player has a monastery, and starts the game with two brewmasters and two workers.

3. The game is played over six rounds. In each round, the players take turns performing one of the following actions:

a. Collecting ingredients: The player rolls two dice. They may choose to collect either the number of hops or barley indicated by the dice. If they choose to collect hops, they take that number of hops from the supply. If they choose to collect barley, they take that number of barley from the supply.

b. Brewing beer: The player spends one hop and one barley to brew one barrel of beer. The player may choose to brew either ale or lager.

c. Selling beer: The player may sell up to three barrels of beer. They may sell either ale or lager, but not both at the same time. They receive three gold pieces for each barrel of ale sold, and four gold pieces for each barrel of lager sold.

4. At the end of each round, the players check to see if they have enough beer to satisfy their workers. If they do not, they must pay one gold piece for each worker that is not satisfied.

5. The game ends after six rounds. The player with the most gold pieces wins the game.

Wow. That’s almost a sensible game. There are some obvious issues, but you could certainly start from this and tweak it into a playable game.

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6 thoughts on “Editing comics”

  1. I think there are so many genres of comics that giving that specific guidelines for editing them is not very useful. It seems to me that that piece of advice is more for the big publisher superheroish comics than any other genre. It looks like something out of the pages of the book ‘How to draw comics the Marvel way’ rather than something for many webcomics artists.

    I nowadays read mostly only a small number of webcomics, and I’ve never noticed emphasis to be an issue for me. Thinking about this, the only comic I usually read to do this is Girl Genius, and having a lot of emphasis and different fonts is kind of part of the presentation, so it doesn’t bother me.

    I did doublecheck and also Questionable Content seems to do emphasis a lot lately. Hm. Maybe I’m wrong with the genre thing and I’m just accustomed to it.

    How do you find the Filth & Grammar book otherwise? I’ve been thinking of buying it.

    1. It’s got a lot of good stuff in it – tips on how to lay out panels, how much text to include, camera angles, and so on. But it’s not presented in an easy “how to” reference format. The book is designed like a story and there are lots of interludes and short comics which break up the advice, so it feels a bit disjointed. And it’s pretty much from the editor’s viewpoint: “Tell the artist to change this”, “Tell the writer to change this”, rather than from the viewpoint of someone who wants to write/draw comics. That said, there is a lot of good practical advice and examples on how to structure comics in it. I think if you want to know more about how to make comics, or how comics are made, then it’s worth picking up.

  2. I agree with you. I think there was never a time where I wasn’t confused why those words were bolded at all. It still stands out to me in a weird way. I know what emphasis is and sometimes tend to overuse it myself in writing, but in comics it often made no sense to me what, and why so much, was bolded? I wonder why that became the norm (though only in American comics, in Asterix for example emphasis is more sparely used and seems sensible to me).

  3. I would like for some to make that game. I would totally play that as a time killer waiting for everyone to show up for game night.

  4. I’m a walking AI bane. A friend of mine got a DALL-E invitation and let me try a prompt; the very first thing I entered broke it. It generated a bunch of random images that bore no relation to anything I had asked for.

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