Greg Pak's "How I Write a Comic Book Script"
As much as I love the things people make, I'm actually obsessed with how people make things. I have been lucky enough to secure a day job that literally focuses on this idea of process over product. Like many creative people, I scared myself stiff because I knew I wanted to create and could make stuff, but I wasn't confident as to how to do that. I needed a guide. During those impressionable years, I never found a definitive guide aside from just mimicking the things I loved based on the impression they gave me. It wasn't until much later that I learned that there is no right way to do things––just do them and figure out the way that works for you. Luckily, with the advent of the internet and with creators being much more open and public about their processes now than ever before, models of production are readily available to the potential creative, though they may be overwhelmed with the variety at their disposal. Now, decades later, I realize what creativity actually is; it's just doing things in whatever way works for you. If you're good at it, people will find you. If not, adjust and do the best you can. The right people will find you. But still––deep down––I still love to see people talk about their process. At the very least, I can write it off now (both figuratively and literally) as a professional endeavor.
An idea I have been mulling over for literally years was to start a blog that aggregates posts about how people make their stuff as well as publishing interviews and breakdowns of how people do things. I even attempted a podcast version of it with "Part of the Plan," (though I realize now that "Process Makes Perfect" is a much better name for it) an interview show idea, but in my pilot I artfully dodged much of the process talk that I was actually craving. Part of the goal would be pedagogical––showing people paralyzed by the thought of trying to make a comic book or write a song or a short story that there is no right way to make things. It's just about doing it. The other part would be to satisfy that need for which I yenned as a youth to see how the people I respected actually got things done. I read all the interviews I could find; I read how-to books, biographies, watched videos––all which left me feeling lacking as if some deep-cut industry secret were being held back because it still wasn't easy to make things. But that's the folly of young, eager creativity––impatience.
I don't think I've ever actually read anything by respected comic book writer, Greg Pak. But when he posted in a series of tweets his process for developing a story and writing a script for comics, I immediately signed up for his newsletter if only because he promised to post a cleaned up and honed version of the tweetstorm. It's rare you see such a thorough look at someone's process, especially a writer. What I love about Pak's breakdown of his process is that he makes it explicit that creativity is not magic. It's a muscle that needs regular attention and practice, something I fully support and stand by. In the syllabi for my classes, there is a line at the beginning where I say that "writing is a verb, not a profession," and I fully support that interpretation. Writing is an act that only exists while you're doing it. To declare yourself a writer is to simply say that you participate in an activity. My favorite part of Pak's breakdown, however, is this:
"Acknowledge that whatever you’re writing this very instant isn’t perfect, but you’re gonna revise it and make it better and 'perfection' is an illusion anyway." -Greg Pak
This is another thing I impress upon my students. The people that churn out perfect first drafts are rare. Or they're liars. Writing is a messy process. Make the lump of clay before you start carving things away; you'll always end up with a better statue than trying to create the Venus de Milo on the first try.
CHAPTER 3 UPDATE
Ugh. I'm in the slog of coloring Chapter 3 right now. I'm making good progress, but it is a chore. I chose the limited color palette under the auspice that it would make comic creation go faster, but that has definitely not been the case. It has been slow and relatively monochromatic. But I'm pushing forward and the end of the book actually seems very close. I aim to get the files out to the printer by the 14th of April, and I think I'm still on a good track for that.
The main image I used to announce the title for Chapter 3 was a quick color job of one panel from an upcoming page.