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Writer Ed Brisson on Captions, Lettering, and Placing Restraints on Storytelling

brissonWriter and letterer Ed Brisson joined the Comics Experience Creators Workshop earlier this year, to discuss his career writing, lettering and publishing comics, including the self-published Murder Book (with various artists) and the recent Image mini-series Comeback, with artist Michael Walsh, as well as the upcoming Image mini-series Sheltered, with artist Johnnie Christmas.

Topics discussed included:

(NOT) USING CAPTIONS

Narrative and thought captions are common in modern-day comics, but Brisson’s work has been largely free of them. He noted that this was intentional, and that from a storytelling perspective, it helps him to preserve some mystery in the story.

“One of the things I worry about — and probably why I don’t use captions — is telling too much of the story,” Brisson said. “I like pulling back, and trying to give readers enough information to get them going, but just enough information to keep them guessing.”

He said ideally, he would like his readers to “spend some time trying to figure out what’s going on.”

ComebackNO1_nycc_sm1THE VALUE OF SELF-LETTERING

Brisson is known for lettering his own work. He said he likes the hands-on approach that it provides, and he appreciates being the last person to handle the book before it goes to press. He noted that it also allows him to tweak the dialogue — or do more than tweak it.

“A lot of times I’ll completely remove huge chunks of dialogue, because the artist is getting the same thing across,” he said. “If you can get it across without needing the exposition or without needing the extra dialogue that’s a really good thing to do. I like it when I’m looking at something where the art speaks for itself.”

PLACING RESTRAINTS ON STORYTELLING

Brisson said that when developing a new story, he likes to build in “restraints,” as a way of guiding and developing the storytelling. This was especially true in Comeback, his time-travel mini-series from Image Comics.

“I like time travel as a concept. I hate time travel stories,” Brisson said. “They’re too expansive.”

Sheltered_1_cvr_550So he developed the idea of a world where time travel existed, but could only take you 67 days into the past — making it “incredibly limiting, and in some ways underwhelming.”

“I started thinking about what restraints would be on it, the regulations around its use, who could use it and who couldn’t, how it could be exploited,” he said. “And the story started spinning out of there.”

Brisson said that when pitching the project, several people asked about the technology — how it works and why it’s so limited. But he said that as a storyteller, these questions didn’t interest him, and that he preferred to focus on the characters and the core storytelling.

“Honestly, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “You go into a big machine, zip zap, you’re in the past. When we started being able to fly, we couldn’t fly 20,000 feet into the sky. We took baby steps. This is the early days of time travel.”

Other topics discussed during the live online session included:

  •  How Brisson broke in
  • How he went from lettering his own work to becoming a professional letterer
  • The pre-press aspect of lettering work
  • Lettering mistakes Brisson sees repeated often
  • The pitch process for Comeback
  • Why Brisson suggests not pitching to editors at conventions
  • The experience of running New Reliable Press, Brisson’s former publishing imprint
  • Getting a book into Diamond as a small publisher
  • Brisson’s comic Murder Book, and the value of putting full stories online, versus the “one page” model
  • The value of social media, and how it’s helped Brisson’s career
  • Early influences, in both writing and art

Creators Workshop sessions take place every month, giving members real-world knowledge that will help them succeed in their comics career.

There’s still plenty of time to sign up before the next session. We hope to see you there.

— Posted by Paul Allor


“Great Zombies” from McFarland features 12 CE alums!

Great-Zombies-in-History-McFarland-PressGreat Zombies in History, the new trade paperback from McFarland & Company, includes work by TWELVE Comics Experience alums and Creators Workshop members!

GZiH was originally released in 2011 as three stand-alone issues by Elevator Pitch Press, a collective of writers who all took the inaugural online version of Andy Schmidt’s Introduction to Comic Book Writing course in October of 2009.

The title has since been picked up and collected by McFarland, a leading independent publisher of pop culture-related nonfiction books who is now bringing its 34 years of publishing experience to the graphic novel format.

In the book, readers discover the secret history of the undead, with stories on samurai, vikings, spartans and even Teddy Roosevelt.

Included are also tales of the Zombie War of 1812, the lost colony of Roanoke Island, the real reason Russia lost the space race, and more.

spartans-great-zombies-in-history-01GZiH features writing by CE alums Rob Anderson, Eric Drumm, Neil Fisher, Frederick Kim, Kevin D. Lintz, George O’Connor, Joshua Osborne, Dan Rivera, and Joe Sergi. Joe also acted as editor of the collected edition, along with assistant editors Frederick Kim and George O’Connor.

The collection also includes art by CE alums DaFu Yu (who also provided the samurai zombie cover), Richard P. Clark, and lettering/design by CE Workshop member E.T. Dollman.

GZiH is a 116-page, black and white softcover, now available from McFarland, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all major book distributors, as well as in several e-book formats.

Congrats to all the CE folks involved in this project!

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!


Indie Comics Horror #2 Features Five Comics Experience Alums and Workshop Members!

indie-comics-horror-02Indie Comics Horror #2, the anthology series from Aazurn Publishing, includes three stories written by Comics Experience alums and Creators Workshop members. And one of the stories is illustrated and lettered by CE folks as well!

Indie Comics Horror #2 is a 64-page black and white comic book featuring nine complete stories in this issue.

The issue is now available at your local comic shop!

This issue features stories written by Glenn Møane, Joe Sergi, and Dan Rivera, and Joe’s story features art by CE alum DaFu Yu and letters by Workshop member E.T. Dollman.

Congrats to all our alums and members appearing in this issue of Indie Comics Horror!

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!


Pro Artist Ryan Browne Offers Critiques on Creators Workshop!

ryan-browneWe’re pleased to announce that comic book artist Ryan Browne has joined the Creators Workshop, providing art critiques to members. Ryan will be checking in on a regular basis during the month of June 2013!

Ryan is the new artist on the second story arc of Image Comics’ Bedlam (written by Comics Experience alum, Nick Spencer), and recently provided art for an issue of Jonathan Hickman’s The Manhattan Projects, as well as co-creating the IDW series Smoke and Mirrors.

God-Hates-Astronauts-CompleteRyan is also the writer/artist on the wildly popular webcomic, God Hates Astronauts, which recently generated $75,000 in pledges on Kickstarter, exceeding its initial goal by over 500%.

The Creators Workshop is an on-going community of writers, artists, colorists, and letterers all dedicated to getting published and improving their craft. It’s a community focused on making comics!

Our members post their work, critique each other, and discuss all aspects of creating comics in our members-only forums. But in addition to all that, members are eligible for critique by our instructors and special guests!

Welcome to the Workshop, Ryan!

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!


CE Alum Marta Tanrikulu’s story in Arcana steampunk anthology!

Cover_ArcanaSteampunkOriginals_v2CE Alum and Creators Workshop member Marta Tanrikulu has a new steampunk story in an anthology hitting stores in June!

The 3-page story, entitled “The Conservatory,” will appear in the 100-page steampunk-themed anthology from Arcana, SteamPunk Originals, Volume 2.

In Marta’s story, renowned botanist Lord Geoffrey must deal with a thieving intruder.

The story is written by Marta, with art by Silvio dB, and lettering by Workshop member E.T. Dollman.

Congrats to Marta, Silvio, and E.T.!

Panel1_Conservatory

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!


Workshop member Rodrigo Ramos Rodolfo illustrates Zenescope event!

zen_circlelogoCreators Workshop member Rodrigo Ramos Rodolfo recently did the interior art for Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales #85: Unleashed Part 2 which is scheduled to hit comic shops this week!

Unleashed is Zenescope’s major Spring/Summer 2013 event, which includes six separate mini-series and a total of 24 issues.

GFT85_The storyline delves directly into the world of horror monsters, while following those with the skills to hunt them.

Grimm Fairy Tales Unleashed is the main seven issue mini-series that begins when hundreds of formerly trapped vampires, werewolves, demons and zombies are all released on Earth by a very powerful entity known as “The Being.”

Rodrigo has done previous work for Zenescope as well as on numerous independent comics. He’s an active member of the Workshop, regularly posting great artwork to his sketch thread on our community forums.

Congrats, Rodrigo!

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If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!