Please note, there is no one way to make a comic script. But some editors have told me they like my way, so I decided to create a free template here on my website for any aspiring comic writers to study when working on their next masterpieces. Remember: less is more. Unlike writing prose, a comic script is written for an audience of a few– primarily the artist and an editor.
If you’d like more detail on the art of comic book writing, the two books I recommend and studied shortly before Mad Cave Studios hired me for my first book, Over the Ropes, are:
Now, for the template: I use a Times New Roman font, but whatever you use make sure it is easy to read and use the same font consistently throughout.
Script format: 1.5 spacing, add space after each paragraph. Don’t let your script look crammed!
Page Number (14. point font)
Panel Number (12 point. Bold font). Panel descriptions, keep them short and neat. Specify key categories: Interior or Exterior (If exterior, must specify the time of day). Location. Type of shot: Wide shot, medium shot or close. You may also specify if one panel is larger than the rest or a full/double page spread. No more than a sentence or two about what’s going on in the panel, also a good idea to specify which character is facing the reader and/or which shows their back. Optional: provide links to reference art. Don’t be afraid to include reference art in your scripts. If you have something specific in mind for how a panel looks, link to your reference art last.
- Captions (Character/Story): Captions are narrations into the mind of characters. Always label which character’s POV is represented. If the caption is general/narration, label it “Story”.
- Dialogue: Bullet points for dialogue. Try to keep lines of dialogue to 25 words or less, no more than two lines per panel and 35 words total.
- Sound effects (SFX). Specify not just the sound made, but what’s making the sound. Ex: SFX- Punch: KAPOW!
Panel Number (12. point. Bold font). Remain repetitive and consistent with your panel descriptions. Continue to copy paste the same key categories every panel they’re used until you change locations. Do not simply assume the artist can keep track of where your brilliant story is going from panel to panel when it takes only seconds to copy/paste from the previous panel.
Panels A-D: When two separate actions appear in the same panel/space, letter your panels. Example: Panel 1A, Panel 1B. If you have an A you must have a B. Note: Do NOT use lettered panels as an excuse to cram in more action, your letterer will have your head on a platter.
- Generally base your pages around 4-6 panels, 7 to 8 are acceptable but don’t make them the norm. More than 8 panels, you’re risking crowding.
- End each page on a hook to turn to the next one, like chapters in a book.
- End your script on an even numbered page. Double-page spreads must begin on an even numbered page.
Sample page 1, from a short comic: False Edicts! Available to read FREE on WEBTOON- here.
Panel 1. Exterior. Roman amphitheatre. Day. Large panel. Trump Senator (Princep Senatus) stands in the middle of the stage, speaking bombastically to his supporters, keep his back to audience.
- Trump: Friends, Romans, COUNTRYMEN….
Panel 2. Exterior. Roman amphitheatre. Day. A group of old senators on one side of the amphitheatre, looking happy and attentive as they applaud Trump. Also dying of plague. (Body parts crumbling off, sickly, etc.)
- Trump (off-panel): Lend me your ears!
- Old Senator: Isn’t the Princep Senatus so noble?
- Old Senator 2: Yet, speaks with the spirited tongue of true plebeians.
Panel 3. Exterior. Roman amphitheatre. Day. Trump’s hand gestures to a dead body, seen from behind/shadowed. Body has dark skin.
- Trump (face-off-panel): Despite false edicts to the contrary, the death of the god Mercury, speeds plague throughout our Empire!
Panel 4A. Exterior. Roman amphitheatre. Day. Trump’s (still seen from behind) as he looks off-panel, very annoyed/crosses his arms.
- AOC (off panel): Uh, pardon me Princep Senatus….
- Trump: Hmph. I only pardon my friends and allies, junior Senator.
Panel 4B. Close-up of Roman Senator, AOC. Reference Art
- AOC: Indeed.
Panel 5. Exterior. Roman amphitheatre. Female Senator AOC speaks while pointing to the Mercury body (off-panel). Reference Art
- AOC: Princep Senatus, it’s not Mercury’s death causing this plague.
- AOC: Furthermore, that’s not Mercury’s body.
Panel 6. Exterior. Roman amphitheatre. Day. First good shot of the dead body. It’s a dead person, VERY dead (eye sockets emptied, body nearly skeletal, etc.) wearing Mercury’s winged helmet, wings on his sandals, and a staff with two serpents laid next to his body. Very comical!
- AOC: (Off-panel): That’s another plague victim— someone dressed them that way.
Page 1 Finished:
You may think of a comic book as your story and in a way it is. But “your” story will pass through several different hands before an editor finally clicks that “Publish” button you’re itching for. The artist will take your script and create layouts, which may vary in some ways from your script pages. Unless you plan to be the writer, artist, colourist, letterer and your own editor, be ready for variations in what you wrote, described and envisioned from start to finish.
Comics are a team effort, I hope you get a chance to play!
If you haven’t already, don’t forget to pick up the Hellfighter Quin TPB, available at your LCS, Comixology or HERE from Mad Cave Studios