Comic Tutorial #2: Creating a tangible comic world
How to write a setting for your comic that gets readers gripped.
Hello and welcome to my second comic tutorial - an ongoing series where I share my expertise and experience of how write, produce, print, market, fund and sell your comics.
Paid subscribers get early access to these tutorials for a month, then free subscribers can then read them in full at no cost. You can get early access by upgrading your subscription for just £3.50 a month, which really helps to support my writing projects.
In this tutorial, I’m going to cover:
How to start building a setting for your comic at the earliest stage
How to nail down all the characteristics of your world before you even write your script (and why it can help keep your plot arc on track)
How to make your world feel like a ‘character’ in your story (so the reader really cares what happens to it, and they can really feel its atmosphere)
How to reinforce your world through realistic dialogue (and not exposition!)
Killtopia #1 art by Craig Paton
Before we dive in, following last week’s user poll, my free newsletter is now going out every two weeks instead of weekly. Theres a poll at the bottom of this tutorial for paid subscribers to vote on how often you’d like these paid posts. I want to make sure I’m always giving you value for money, so please let me know what you’d like.
Ready? Let’s talk about world-building!
1. Starting from nothing
So, let’s say you have a great ‘hook’ for a new comic story - like an elevator pitch you have in your head that you just know would make a great first issue of an arc; how do you actually start to work out where that story should be set?
I’ve come at this two different ways over the years:
I have a story hook and I already know the genre I want to use: for example, fantasy, post-apocalypse, cyberpunk - so the foundation of that setting is already semi-established (i.e. fantasy settings probably don’t have advanced technology, while cyberpunk settings usually do)
I have a story hook but no setting in mind: this also happens, and in the example of my beat ‘em up comic BPM: Beatdowns Per Minute, I knew I
wanted to do a tribute to my favourite genre of video games, but I worked out the story setting after.
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