Comics Experience is pleased to announce that Greg Pak (Planet Hulk, Star Wars, Action Comics) will be teaching our next Master Seminar on July 13! For five hours, learn about “The Pak Process” of organizing your story – or an entire arc. Now’s your chance to learn straight from one of the comic book industry’s most experienced, respected, and talented creators!
We talked to Greg briefly about his plans for the course.
Comics Experience: Can you give us a brief teaser about the “Pak Process?”
Greg Pak: I think my best work comes from combining fun genre hijinks with genuine emotional storytelling and a thematic interest in underdog heroes. So a big part of my process is figuring out how all those elements work together and reinforce each other in each new story I tackle. That’s the whole thrilling and exhausting and tedious and ultimately (hopefully!) glorious work of cracking the story — figuring out just what the hell this story’s about and what these characters’ journeys are and how the whole thing clicks across its multiple levels.
And then there’s the incredibly practical process of hammering that story out into pitches and outlines and comic book script pages and then working with artists and editors to turn it into an actual comic book.
So the “Pak Process” is just the very practical steps I take while mucking my way through this whole thing. During my fifteen year comics career, I’ve written or co-written almost five hundred individual comic book scripts. In the last six months alone, I’ve turned in about forty scripts, which even I have a little trouble wrapping my head around. Every writer has a different, equally valid process. But this will be an introduction to one working comic book writer’s methods for turning hundreds of loopy ideas and dreams into actual scripts.
To get a little taste of some of the steps and themes I’ll be addressing, last year I posted a thread on Twitter about how I write comics that got viewed about half a million times — and you can check it out on my Patreon! During this course, I’ll be expanding on those steps, taking an practical look at the entire process of writing comics, from conception to outlining to scripting to revising to working with editors and artists to make it all work as a finished book.
CE: What advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your comic book writing career?
GP: After all these years of writing comics, I realized something pretty recently that could be worth sharing… If you’re lucky enough to start getting work-for-hire offers, pick your projects based on your editors as much as the characters or properties. I think a huge number of us would do just about anything to write certain characters we’ve loved since we were kids. And that’s fantastic — that kind of passion can be critical for making these projects sing. But when it comes down to the day-to-day work of making comics, a great creative working relationship with an editor is probably the number one thing that will make the experience a true joy — and a sustainable profession.
If you find editors who love what you do and ask the right questions to push you to make it better, who have a sympathetic or complementary sense of story and theme and ethics, who are good organizers and defenders and know how to get projects done the right way… grab hold of those editors and never let go!
CE: What are some of the most overlooked myths and misconceptions about comic book writing that you think need addressing?
GP: Genius is a myth. There’s no such thing as overnight success — everyone has to work hard for years and years to make their stories work. Yes, some folks have a very special touch for dialogue or puzzlebox plotting or worldbuilding or whatever… but none of us are Mozart, just out there typing up perfect scripts in one fell swoop. We’re all working on our craft every day, learning and relearning the basic principles of visual, sequential storytelling, and adding new tools to our toolbox in order to reach the next level. This can be daunting, because it implies years of work. But I think it’s enormously liberating, because it also implies that if you can scratch together the time and resources to keep going, you can get better.
CE: What’s the biggest takeaway you hope students gain from your course?
GP: I hope folks walk away with the tools and the permission to actually DO the thing. So many of us — me included! — have stories in our heads that we just can’t seem to get down on paper. Sometimes stories just need time to percolate. But very often, we don’t do the thing because we’ve built up so many expectations in our own heads that it’s too intimidating to start, because it isn’t yet perfect. Or we just don’t quite have a method for turning those ideas into an actual story and script. I think this course can help by providing one writer’s set of incredibly practical tools that can help get those first ideas onto paper, perfect or not, so that we can get that first draft into the can and turn that first draft into a second and third draft that really sing.
Maybe another way to say all of this is that storytelling isn’t magic. Yes, there’s that feel of magic when everything’s clicking. But the actual process is just that — an actual process that each of us develops to move our jumbled, imperfect first thoughts of a story into an actual script, step by step.
Don’t miss out on your chance to gain insight from an industry legend! We’ve still got some spots open for the Master Seminar on July 13, but they tend to go quickly. Make sure to sign up here as soon as you can to ensure your place!
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!