Comics Versus Plays

When I first started writing play scripts, I struggled for a bit. It was a new format and style compared to the narrative style I had been using for ages. Eventually, I figured out how to manage the style and focus on the conversation. However, I am also a massive nerd. I know, shocker. So, while reading some random comics, I decided, “hey! I want to do that”. That was the easiest transition from one format to another ever.

Writing a comic script is sort of like combining the style for plays and narratives. However, you must convey each movement or scene change perfectly, so that it conveys what you want to an artist, and the artist can then convey it to the readers. Each panel has to flow well enough to show movement and change, and there needs to be a good balance between conversation and boxes, which are almost like little boxes of narration amongst the art.

The main difference between the two, however, is the limitations. With play scripts, you have to think about quick changes, special effects, scene changes, and cost. With a comic script, if you find a good artist, anything is possible. Not to mention, you can work with multiple art styles as well. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to find artists interested in comics that they don’t write, unless you are in a big corporation. Along with that, the average comic book has 136 panels, and each panel at least has a lengthy description of the scene and actions are, so it takes much longer to write.

While you may be thinking, “How does this pertain to me as a playwright?”, don’t push comics away so quickly. Comic scripts and play scripts work hand in hand, focusing heavily on dialogue and character action. Character quirks and voice are equally as important in both, and it is easy to convert a comic script into a play, or vice versa. Take the Broadway musical “Fun Home” for example. “Fun Home” was originally a graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, that was converted into a script. Sure, the music was all new, but the speaking parts were already written for the writers. They just had to adapt it to make it fit a stage more easily.

Either way, each type of writing has the same purpose. Both need to convey a good story. Whether that story is superhero art on a page, or actors performing on a stage, remember your audience. Leave them wanting more, and have them leave with a change in their lives.

Bailey Van

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