I’ve been researching better ways to include more storytelling in my games, and this search has lead me directly to comics. More than any other medium, for a one-man game creation team, the art of comics is the single best way to add story to a game. I don’t have the time to make full-blown animations, and although writing is one of my best skills, a lot more people in gaming universe would respond well to comics. After reading several of Eisner’s comics training books (the third just arrived!) I picked up the copy of How To Make Webcomics I’d had on my shelf for a few years. It was a good decision.
The book is written by four well-known webcomic creators, ensuring a variety of opinions on how to move forward. In addition to instructions on tailoring one’s offerings for presentation on the web, is also goes into detail on how to build a great website, how to research, and how at what point and how to start merchandising. While the authors don’t always agree on every detail, when they do, you can be certain that your own career will be amplified by following their advice. The book is funny, well-written, and an invaluable starting point for anyone thinking about taking webcomics seriously.
What did I get out of it? First of all, I want to do a webcomic now. 🙂 I’m not going to, because my creative, storytelling, world-building moment is behind mobile gaming at the moment. I’m also not willing to sign up for that much of a constant-work-and-expectation treadmill, no matter *how* much I might love it. However, the medium of comics is perfect for my games, and doing single-story-arc graphic-novels might very well be possible for me. The book gives a lot of consideration to how to create a compelling cast of characters, how to draw them so they’re easily distinguishable, even in, say silhouette. One Big Message is that your webcomic is, at it’s core, about *you*. This is true both of the characters and the world they inhabit. A big take-away for me is the idea of creating one contiguous universe that all my games plug into. I’ve also been giving thought to how I could break my own personality into a cast of characters to inhabit those games, which is kind of fun. I could make one who is lazy, tech-savy, and smart, another who is super into health food, socialization, and cooking, and a third who is a die-hard hands-on suburban homesteader. All of them would probably be polyamorous, though it might be fun to have one who isn’t. It’s also finally providing a possible home for many characters and story arcs that have lived only inside my head for years.
In addition to adding story telling to my games, I like the idea of creating separate stories in other media, like written short-stories or graphic novels, and having them all be in the same universe. I could have certain story arcs that are only revealed by playing through a game, or certain characters who are implied in the comic, but are only ever actually “on screen” in written short stories. There’s a lot of grist for the mill, here, and I’m already re-vamping my updates of ‘RoidRage and Zen Fire based on the book.
Wheels are turning…