Well, I still seem to be in the mood for wiring about comics at the moment, so I thought that I’d ramble about the similarities between comics and scripted TV shows. Although most of these similarities are pretty obvious, there’s a good reason why I’m pointing some of them out that I’ll explain in the second half of this article.
Anyway, even though comics and scripted TV shows are obviously very different from each other on a technical level, they also share quite a few interesting similarities.
The most obvious similarity is that, like scripted drama shows, comics often tell an episodic story. Whether it’s a webcomic that updates twice a week or a traditional print comic that is published weekly or monthly, comics are one of oldest forms of visual episodic storytelling.
Likewise, just like how many TV shows that are collected into DVD/ Blu-Ray/ Video On Demand etc.. boxsets after they’ve been broadcast, traditional print comics are often collected into trade paperbacks.
Even traditional daily newspaper cartoons (eg: “Nemi“, “Dilbert“, “Garfield” etc..) aren’t that different from TV shows. Although each comic strip might be a self-contained joke, they often share a common cast of characters and – if you put a month’s worth of these comics together, you’d end up with something vaguely resembling a comedy sketch show or possibly even a sitcom episode.
The similarities between comics and scripted TV shows can be seen by the fact that, when a popular TV show gets cancelled prematurely, it’ll sometimes be continued in comic format. This has happened with quite a few of Joss Whedon’s TV shows (eg: “Buffy”, “Angel”, “Firefly” etc…), but it’s happened with other TV shows (especially in the sci-fi genre) too. It’s very telling that when it comes to finishing a TV show’s story on a lower budget and in a different medium, comics are always the first choice.
But, you probably know all of this stuff already, so why am I mentioning it?
Well, the chances are that you’ll never get to produce a high-quality scripted TV show. Ok, streaming sites like Youtube have made it much easier for people to publish videos, not to mention that digital video editing technology is apparently a lot more accessible and affordable than it used to be.
But, producing a TV quality scripted drama show (especially in effects-heavy genres like the sci-fi genre) on a limited budget is still something that many people would probably struggle with.
And, if you’re a television fan like I am, this is a really depressing fact. Still, even though you might never make TV shows – you can certainly make the next best thing. Like this self-contained comic featuring the characters from both another self-contained comic and a long-running comic series of mine:
Comics are relatively easy to make and don’t require a huge budget. Yes, you’ll need to put in quite a bit of practice if you want the art to look good but, you’d be surprised at how simple comic art can be. Seriously, the format itself pretty much requires slightly simplified art – given that you’re basically making lots of drawings within a relatively short period of time.
Not only that, in comics, the writing matters more than the art quality does – if you don’t believe me, just look at a very popular webcomic called “XKCD“, where all of the characters are literally stick figures.
With comics, you can do pretty much everything that TV shows can do, but on a fraction of the budget. Not only that, you can actually do more than TV shows can. For example, you can do things like directly showing your character’s thoughts, you can use unusual panel layouts etc…
Yes, like any storytelling medium, you’ll need to do quite a bit of practice before you get even vaguely good at writing and/or illustrating comics (here’s one of my badly-drawn and badly-written episodic comic series from 2013 to show you what I mean). But, if you have a vague dream of making a TV show but also know that you’ll never be able to make it, why not turn it into a comic instead?
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂