In a comic strip, stories are told primarily through a series of drawings (with a few words to help). Download and print the file below to make your own comic strip. What will it be about? A made-up world? Your real life? What characters will you create?
It starts with a good story
At the heart of any good comic book is a good story. Those usually have a beginning, a middle and an end. But there are lots of pieces that transform a story into a comic.
Neil Gaiman — considered one of the founders of modern comics and the author of “Coraline” and the DC comic “The Sandman” — broke down the pieces of a comic book in a step-by-step guide for Masterclass, a site full of online classes.
First, let’s learn his lingo.
• Panel: This is one illustration surrounded by a border, usually a square or a rectangle. “Each panel moves the story along,” according to Gaiman, “by depicting an action with figures and speech bubbles.”
• Gutter: The empty space between panels.
• Tier: One row of panels. Like the two tiers up there, that you’re about to draw and write in!
• Splash: This is a full-page drawing or illustration, usually at the beginning of a comic book, that can help set your story’s tone, mood or setting.
• Spread: An even bigger illustration that takes up more than one page.
• Speech bubble: Balloons with dialogue — the stuff characters say — inside them. These have “tails” that tell you who’s talking.
Now that you understand all the parts that make up a comic book, it’s time to come up with your story. You can try to fit all of these in the tiers on this page, or grab some paper and a stapler and make your own full comic book.
These are Gaiman’s tips for starting: 1. Think about a short story that would work well visually. The moments in your story should be big and easy to define, and you want your characters to seem larger than life.
2. Now consider your story’s structure. What’s your big opening?
What’s the climax — usually the most exciting, wild part — of your story? How does it resolve, or end?
3, Who are your characters? Think about why they do what they do.
What do they want? How do they change over the course of your story?
4. Finally, Gaiman recommends thinking about those powerful emotions that often drive a story — feelings like love, anger, good and evil.
Do you see those in your story?