Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

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Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

Postby SketchLines » March 10th, 2019, 9:51 am

Hey, DrSketchLines here! I'm sorry if this is the incorrect place to put this topic, but I couldn't seem to find anywhere else to put this. If this goes against any guidelines, I'll swiftly remove it :> Anyways...

Anyone feel like their comic isn't moving fast enough? I'm under the impression that it's just poor pacing, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that I'm so busy with real life.

Personally, I can only draw in the wee hours of the night, when my eyelids are heavy and my eyes wander onto a specific spot on my laptop screen before I realize that I almost fell asleep.

However, i'm also thinking that the reason my comic is moving slowly is because (well obviously poor writing, still working on that, but...) I'm trying to have characters interact a little bit with each other first before going on their adventure. I feel like I want to have the characters organically react and get to know each other before anything happens to them.

However, I read some comics that cut to the chase right away and are able to do the whole friendship thing a lot quicker. I guess I like to take things slower?

So what do you think? Do you also start your comics or stories slow? Having a slow rise before going on their adventure or do you have the comic drop right into the action? Any tips? Any stories?
My comic, A Wizard and A Cat :) http://awac.smackjeeves.com/
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Re: Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

Postby TheFunTrain » March 10th, 2019, 11:54 am

It depends in large part on the tone of the story you want to set. If you want to tackle some kind of suspenseful thriller drama about character development, then maybe a slow build is the right way to go. If you want to make a zany cartoon about face-kicking and explosions, then you should probably get to the face-kicking and explosions early on.

I realized too late that my co-creator and I were lingering too long on setup for a story that is meant to be fast paced with a light tone. Anyone who sits through the exposition might be turned off when things get weirder. Conversely, anyone who might enjoy what we really want to draw might not make it through the exposition. Basically, if that's the way your comics is going to be, that's probably the way your comic should start. You could throw them right into the action and let their personalities develop as they react to circumstances. In Medias Res is always an option: start part way into the story and fill in the beginning later with dialogue and/or flashbacks. Another technique I have made ham-fisted use of is to split characters off into smaller groups rather than introducing them all at once. If I'm making the effort to get mentally and emotionally committed to a story by remembering who everyone is, it's easier a few at a time. Disclaimer: I have a terribly short attention span and am bad with names

I sabotaged myself and co-author by trying to create a much more polished, cinematic tone in the reboot of the sketch comics we have been drawing since high school. I took our improvement for granted and set an unrealistic expectation of quality for two young people slogging though college and entering the engineering/medical world. The whole dynamic changed: we had less free time, couldn't rely on inside jokes or copyrighted material. Most importantly, our creative duo was now two individuals separated by time and distance. We're still trying to strike the right balance of tone, pacing, and action. The title actually comes from a joke in which I cut away to a gratuitous movie explosion in the middle of a wordy exposition. It doesn't count as bad writing if I'm self aware, right?
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Re: Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

Postby SketchLines » March 10th, 2019, 12:28 pm

Oh wow! Thanks for responding and giving your input! And sorry if I replied wrong... I don't know how to use this forum yet :F I'm trying to reach out more to the Smackjeeves community, since it's personally my favorite place to read comics. So apologies if just clicking "post reply" is not how you reply to an individual :(

Yeah I was thinking that I would personally like the slow start and high rise kind of situation better for my comic as well. To be honest I've never written before, so all this is super new to me. Even my current comic I havent started writing until the half of chapter 2, which leaves chapter 1 to drag on for so long.

"In Medias Res is always an option: start part way into the story and fill in the beginning later with dialogue and/or flashbacks" Oh woah, I never thought about that! I had no idea that it was even a term until you mentioned it. Once I start writing something that is truly more narrative driven I'm going to have to try that out!

Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry that you and your co author had to go through that. That sounds like a huge pain in the butt and a lot of time wasted, though a lot of things learned through that time. I think it sounds interesting how you both are still trying to make it work, despite the flaws (assuming that the story you wrote about is the one you both are working on at the moment). To me it gives the comic more of a story of being 'the one that keeps on trucking' for lack of a better word :P. I'll have to read it sometime, honestly.
My comic, A Wizard and A Cat :) http://awac.smackjeeves.com/
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Re: Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

Postby Seven Rain » March 10th, 2019, 8:03 pm

Pacing is so tricky, and it's one of many things that, (whether I'm good at it or not,) I can't really give advice on because I go with my gut so much. I like to think I've improved a lot since the first two chapters, and I guess if I can say anything it's that the tighter and more closed-off you can get your story and it's conclusion, the easier it'll be to pace. Figure out where you want everything to go, figure out where you want it to go in-between the beginning and end. Figure out which parts seem to take up too much story and prepare to shorten them as much as you can. Figure out which parts might feel too rushed and add to them. The more concrete you can get the broad story the more you can work on the chapters, and then the scenes, and then the pages. Planning ahead and having a solid direction is everything in writing a story, which I didn't realize in my first few years but now I can't stress enough.

I know exactly what you mean about wanting time for the characters to interact, and that can get tough. The slice-of-life bits that set up the story and cast can be really important, but also hard to keep from boring readers, especially if it happens before the main plot/action really gets going.

And don't worry, you're using the forum fine! It's really not too tricky, just be sure to follow the rules. The main thing that some new posters do that irks people is double-posting. If you want to add more to something you already said, just edit your last post, don't post twice in a row. Easy-peasy. Other than that most of the rules and etiquette are common sense.
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Re: Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

Postby TheFunTrain » March 11th, 2019, 11:52 am

SketchLines wrote:Oh wow! Thanks for responding and giving your input! And sorry if I replied wrong... I don't know how to use this forum yet :F I'm trying to reach out more to the Smackjeeves community, since it's personally my favorite place to read comics. So apologies if just clicking "post reply" is not how you reply to an individual :(

There is a Quote button on each post that allows you to put part or all of another post in yours. It's a common technique on SJ forums for replying to people, but not required by any stretch. Like the man said, as long as you observe the basic rules you are free to choose your format. There is also a Preview button while composing a post to see what it will look like.

SketchLines wrote:Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry that you and your co author had to go through that. That sounds like a huge pain in the butt and a lot of time wasted, though a lot of things learned through that time. I think it sounds interesting how you both are still trying to make it work, despite the flaws (assuming that the story you wrote about is the one you both are working on at the moment). To me it gives the comic more of a story of being 'the one that keeps on trucking' for lack of a better word :P. I'll have to read it sometime, honestly.

It took a long time of not being satisfied with quality/quantity of our new stuff to realize what was amiss. I am a lazy hack and for me, comic practice consists of making comics. As long as the reader(s) can tell what is going on, we keep pushing forward. His and my collaborative canon has been a semi-continuous stream of consciousness for years. It started as one long inside joke among friends, but we have since endeavored to capture that lightning in a bottle and peddle it on the street. I think I was the main driving force behind our collective burnout, so I have spent years trying to take it all back. My new mantra is that an okay comic that brings people some enjoyment is better than the most amazing comic that never leaves the author's head. It's up to you to figure out your priorities and goals as they apply to your comic adventures. For me, I can't (or won't) devote the time and effort to make something worth printing and selling. This is going to remain a hobby for the foreseeable future and I will treat it as such. Take my self-taught advice with a grain of salt.
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Re: Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

Postby SketchLines » March 11th, 2019, 11:01 pm

Ah, thanks Seven Rain :) And yeah, I made sure not to do the double posting thing. I edited this post quite a bit to be honest xD

Oh and sorry about the format of this post :P I write everything on WordPad so I can keep my thoughts and the posts on the same screen so I can respond to everything xD.

"comic practice consists of making comics"
Oh that's totally the same for me, which is why my comic has some bumps here and there and isn't perfect xD.

"The more concrete you can get the broad story the more you can work on the chapters, and then the scenes, and then the pages. Planning ahead and having a solid direction is everything in writing a story, which I didn't realize in my first few years but now I can't stress enough."
Yeah, I started realizing that when I started writing. When I was making my comic off the cuff, it was like driving a car without holding on to the steering wheel. It felt like at any moment I was gonna crash. No control, no rhyme or reason. It's kinda scary xD. Either now or never I pick up writing.


"an okay comic that brings people some enjoyment is better than the most amazing comic that never leaves the author's head."
Oh wow. I'll have to keep this train of thought in mind. A big weakness of mine is that my comic is either all or nothing. It can't be run of the mill. However, I think that's kind of self destructive, and as you brought up, making comics is probably the best way to start learning how to make comics. And as for the bit about 'never leaves the author's head', I had that a couple of times, forgetting what the comic was about because at the time I never wrote anything beforehand. I had to change the formula and the whole plot of the comic again and again because I felt like what it originally was didn't sit well with me :P.

And yeah, I don't think my comic will be something that will be able to be printed haha. Even if it was done in a traditional format (it's vertical scrolling) I think the content isn't something that people would want to throw money at. Not because it's unprofessional, it's because I think a lot of it has to do with what people want from a comic.
My comic, A Wizard and A Cat :) http://awac.smackjeeves.com/
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Re: Comic pacing? Too fast? Too Slow?

Postby kayotics » March 23rd, 2019, 9:25 am

Pacing often depends on what goals you're trying to accomplish and who your audience is. There's a tough balance to strike if you're going to post a comic online and you want to print it later, which is what I do. There's the struggle of posting a weekly update and only having one page of content (and that having be fast paced enough) and it not going TOO fast when you go into print.

What I like to do for pacing is have at least one important piece of information revealed on each update. Update here for me means page, but for you it could mean multiple pages. It can be any piece of information, like info about the current plot, some problem that's happening, or just the character's relationship status towards each other.

As for showing a relationship between characters, I like to slip in little bits of information that show the audience how the character's feel about each other while still keeping things moving. For example, if I have two characters meeting on screen for the first time but they already know each other, I'll have them establish their relationship with a line like "how's your father since he last came to the hospital for a checkup?" This gives the reader a lot of information, like that the speaker practices medicine, that they know each other already, that the father might be ill, and that the speaker is maybe a family doctor.

So, I guess to sum up, is pacing is really tough.
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