The following guest post is by writer and CE alum Rick Bonn. Rick’s short comic story, “Farm Noir,” illustrated by Scott Irwin, will appear in Indie Comics Magazine #10! Now available for pre-order through Diamond PREVIEWS, the issue will be on sale starting this holiday season.
That was my first response upon hearing from Andy Schmidt that our assignment in his Introduction to Comic Book Writing was to author a five-page comic script — the reverse of my reaction in school years when the first question about assigned essays was always “How many words?”
Remember the days when fewer was better?
Not anymore. After spending years analyzing screenplays as a Hollywood executive, my mind had become conditioned to thinking in five acts, in 105 pages, and along key structural beats. Thus, in preparation for Andy’s class, I had created and outlined several graphic novels. Hundred-page graphic novels!
But five pages? Now how was I supposed to do that?
Luckily, this was not just any class. Nor any teacher. Andy has a career of guiding writers to their best stories, so even though I couldn’t fit a hundred pages into five, he praised the concept: “Farm Noir,” a mashup of Animal Farm and The Godfather. The setting also worked for him. That innocent farm I took my kids to in real life could still be a hotbed of evil in my imagination. And the lead character, a rooster who prefers working in the dark, could still kick up dust. The story just had to be shorter. Much shorter.
One of the strengths of Andy’s class is the workshop setting and the commitment of classmates to critique your work. From my first draft, I had readers ready to assess “Farm Noir“‘s potential. They helped me lock down five pages of effective story beats. Andy kept us going – with pep talks, structure, workflow, script samples, and anecdotes about meeting Optimus Prime. He applied years of experience in helping us fit our stories to the page. Five pages.
Six classes went by too fast. But somehow at the end, we had all written five-page scripts. One classmate suggested an anthology which got me thinking about publishing. After refining the story, I paid Scott Irwin to draw it. His artwork so inspired me, I added two more pages and a narration. Then Dave Lanphear (A Larger World Studios) completed the package with a lettering design that clearly showed why he’s twice been nominated for major industry awards.
To make a long story short (ha, ha), while the class anthology never got off the ground, I heard that publisher Gary Scott Beatty was looking for indie submissions. He wanted complete stories. In black and white. And he wanted them short!
“Farm Noir” was all of the above and recently Gary picked it to be one of eight original, creator-owned short stories in Indie Comics Magazine #10. So this holiday season, because it can be pre-ordered through Diamond, I will have the privilege of walking into my comic shop and buying a comic featuring my story.
Andy shared in class how he’s often approached by people at conventions saying they want to be comic book writers. When he asks them how many scripts they’ve written, they often say “None.” But my classmates and I no longer fit that category, he reminded us all on the last day of class. We were now part of a small percentage of people who had pursued their dream of writing comic scripts by actually writing one.
I wish I could pass onto you the thrill of moving from Introduction to Comic Book Writing with Andy Schmidt to working with professionals to finding a publisher. From the first time I picked up Captain America or spun the racks for Richie Rich, I’ve dreamed of making comics. And though it’s not a career or even money-maker at this point, the joy of contributing to this medium generates substantial energy — enough to power me through other aspects of life. I wake up thrilled, wondering what new artwork from one of my scripts will be in my inbox.
And I’m writing more stories. And meeting more artists. And spending more money.
I’m just hoping Andy soon offers the “How to Write your Graphic Novel” class. Because I can’t contain myself to five pages forever.
Congratulations to Rick and Scott, and many thanks to Rick for this post!
Order Indie Comics Magazine #10 in October’s PREVIEWS comic book catalog, under Aazurn Publishing! Find out more at http://indiecomicsmagazine.com.
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!