The Garcia Method: Waiting for The Moment

Garcia-MethodWith his creative team assembled and firmly under contract comic book writer Ryan Garcia has to tackle the hardest part of the comic book creation process: waiting. As his artist sharpens his pencil and starts creating character sketches of his precious creation, Ryan practices his skills on Threes as he waits for ‘The Moment’ when his character comes to life in The Garcia Method: Waiting For The Moment.

Ryan Garcia.jpg As a writer creating a comic book you’ve been incredibly busy working on the script, rewriting the script, working with an editor on the script, and thinking about the script. Then you brought together the right people to bring your project to life. And now the next step is out of your hands.

The waiting can be significant so prepare yourself – go read some comics or a novel or start playing Threes on your phone. If this is your first time creating a comic book and even with artists under contract and rates established, you probably reached an understanding about how long the artists would take to finish their work. And if your creative team is good, which they must be, then they probably have other work as well. So you’ll wait a few days, a week, maybe a few weeks.

But then it arrives. Your first glimpse into the world that has existed in your head and now exists on paper, even if only in a rough form. The first step is typically sketches and designs for your major characters. And nothing can prepare you for the moment you first see your characters drawn on paper.

You will immediately recognize aspects of the character as items that were always in your mind. You will be surprised at the new elements incorporated by your artist. And you will be shocked at how very, very different some items may be.

But here’s the thing: you have to be open to all of it. Comic books are collaborations. Your creative team is not a team of psychics pulling mental images out of your mind and rendering them on paper. They are your creative team, which means they are creative too and they will bring their ideas to the table. Some amazing ideas, some horrible ideas.

Your role, along with your editor, is to figure out which ideas to keep and which to discard, in order to make your comic the best possible product you can make. You’ll need to approach each design sketch and character idea with an eye towards the book you want to create. There will be elements that you never considered but make perfect sense and can absolutely improve your project. And there are some that won’t. Your artist is prepared for that, especially so early in the game, so explore the possibilities with them and your editor.

It’s quite possible that your artist will absolutely nail the character designs from the first draft. It’s far more likely that you’ll go through a few revisions before reaching your final character designs. Each time you’ll find yourself getting closer to the final product until The Moment. You’ll know The Moment. It’s when you look at an image on a page and you know that’s the character who has been living in your brain for so long.

For my own project, Fallen, my amazing artist Jose Holder went through three rounds of character design. I have all three rounds posted over at the Fallen Tumblr if you’d like to see the variations that he explored in the first two rounds. That was all we needed for the character itself; the third round explored some costume choices. But if you look at the second round of sketches and the face in the bottom left, that was The Moment for me. I saw that face looking out from the page and it felt like I was meeting an old friend that I’d never seen before. It’s a moment you’ll never forget as a comic book writer.

My comment about paying attention to every element in the sketches was also crucial in this process. In the first round of sketches, Jose had Fallen wearing an old army surplus jacket (top left of the first sketches). I saw the military chevrons but didn’t really pay attention until my wife pointed out that they resembled two Ls and that Fallen had a double L in the middle of his name. That was an interesting idea and I passed that note along to Jose. That comment led to Jose creating the Fallen insignia seen in the third set of sketches. Not only is the final logo a fantastic visual but it also has a connection to his name and ultimately his story. But you’ll have to wait until Fallen comes out in November to discover that connection.

After you approve of the character designs then it’s back to the waiting game for you while your artist prepares the rough sketches for the comic pages. So fire up your phone and work on that Threes high score for a bit.

Ryan Garcia (@SoMeDellLawyer) is a social media lawyer, professor, and new podcaster (GabbingGeek.com). His current high score on Threes is 9,879.