Monday, December 28, 2009

Comic Book Script Format

One thing I've heard again and again -- and still find hard to believe -- is that there's no accepted format for comic book scripting. You can find examples of various writers' scripts on the Web, and we certainly reviewed some good examples of quality professional scripts during the Comics Experience class, but when you begin creating your own scripts, the only real rule is that the format is clear, easy to read, and set up in such a way that it's easy to focus on, say, only the panel descriptions, or only the dialogue, if you so choose.

As part of showing the production process of Animal Control: Special Creatures Unit, I thought I'd share the script format I used. The image shown above links to a PDF of page two of the first story.

Specifically, here are the features of the format I used:
  • Page breaks are clearly defined (caps & underlined);

  • Number of panels on the page is listed at top;

  • Clearly defined breaks between panels;

  • Bolding of descriptions and everything else except for dialogue;

  • Dialogue/word balloons numbered sequentially on each page;

  • Speaker of dialogue set off in caps and indented for easy reading;

  • Underlining used to show bolding (because caps or actual bolding would be lost when converted to all caps and text for lettering);

  • Contact information on every page -- the original contained my phone number as well; and

  • Plenty of white space.
Personally, I prefer to keep the panel descriptions pretty sparse. For example, in Panel 5, I mention a Panda Dog, but I don't really describe it. The description of the Panda Dog was provided during the (later) character design stage in emails to the artist. Other characters were described separately in their bios outside of the script. Separating out these details allows me to keep the focus of the script on the storytelling.

This is just what works for me. Everyone seems to do it a little different. Hopefully, you'll find something useful in it.

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