My Advice To Aspiring Comic Creators, Part 4

by Tito W. James

My previous articles covered the preliminary research, short exercises, and the do’s and don’ts of comic creation.
Now that you are better prepared to enter the indie comic world, you should be aware of its own set of drawbacks. That’s why I’m pointing out indie clichés and listing comics that subvert them.
The Depressing Black and White Memoir

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud is one of the few graphic novels that warrants being called a masterpiece. A struggling artist makes a deal by giving up his life for his art. What makes The Sculptor stand out is that the art is of high quality despite limited color. McCloud makes the protagonist a full human being rather than an author insert character. The characters feel emotionally real, even if the story is fictitious.
Many memoirs come across as dull because real life has no narrative arc. If you want to tell a story about real people or make fictional characters feel real, focus on the emotion and not the minutiae.
The Bloodbath

This is the most common trope in indie comics and movies. Because the authors can get away with anything, they feel the need to fill every corner of their comic with sex, violence, and swear words. This trick is sure to titillate young and inexperienced audiences, but it’s a gimmick that wears off with age.
However, in The Strange Talent of Luther Strode by Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore, the author explores the line between a violent anti-hero like the Punisher and a serial slasher like Jason Voorhees.
If you’re making a violent comic be sure to have heart in addition to blood and guts.
The Superhero OC

I’ve stated previously that the market is over-saturated with superhero comics. However, superheroes are a fun genre with a built-in audience.
In Battling Boy by Paul Pope, we are introduced to an energetic world of super-human vigilantes, fighting monsters who kidnap children. By combining retro-futurism, folklore, and a dash of pop-culture satire, Pope was able to create an original superhero that can be enjoyed by audiences young and old.
The Political Soapbox

With political comics, it often feels like the author is venting their frustrations rather than delivering a compelling story.
Copper by Kazu Kibuishi does a good job of delivering cute stories that will make audiences think, if they’re willing read between the lines.
The Low Fi MEME

There is no shortage of webcomics with simplistic art that center around cartoon gags. What makes OwlTurd stand out is the intelligence and truthfulness of the comedy. The author communicates more about life and the human experience in four panels than most authors do in forty pages.

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