(photographed by Matthew Ballen)
Dov Torbin asked me to give 10 Rules For Drawing Comics. Nothing scientific here. Just stuff to think about.
1. Observe and listen and react. This is your primary engine for story.
2. Write or sketch (do both) until it resembles something of a story. A story is like a series of jokes and punchlines, funny and not funny. One thing leading to another, and not necessarily in that order!
3. I understand why we're encouraged to remove story elements that don't strictly contribute to the over-arching narrative, but I try to make entire stories feel like one big red mess because life is chaos. Answers are not as interesting as questions, but choices and decisions (for better or for worse) make or break characters and steer story.
4. Shape your story. Subtract for clarity, but leave room for interpretation. Your reader is your co-author. Struggling through the layout stage is the most critical part of making comix. Everything after that is craft, revision and execution.
5. I used to care about accountability for verisimilitude but emotionally true is what I strive for. You want a photo? Take a picture. You want a fact? Do the math. Otherwise, draw something that means something but don't be scared of what's complex and human. It's how we relate.
6. Image is text, too. Sometimes I draw first what I want to write and then reverse-engineer my story-making process.
7. The art should always serve the story. A splash page should feel like a Sergio Leone vista or extreme close-up. The moment before or after a trigger is pulled or something is revealed. Inset panels expose, hyphenate or hide information. Use them wisely.
8. If your art stops me from indulging the story at its intended narrative pace so as to ogle and cheer how well you drew something, you're being a diva. Don't vogue. Immerse me.
9. Read books and comix. Watch movies. Listen to music. See people doing things. Do things. Talk.
10. Sometimes, walk home a different way. It allows you to see new things and, perhaps, think differently.