Comics Script

Composition 3, due March 28th

dailyplanetThis semester, we’ve been reading comic books and thinking about how they use visual and textual modes to tell a story, make an argument, or communicate another kind of message. We’ve been focusing on analytical skills to examine these texts, looking at the work and creativity of others. Now, it’s your turn to try your hand at developing your own comic.

For this assignment, you will compose a comics script for a news article of your choice, in the spirit of comics journalism, like Joe Sacco’s Palestine. Comics scripts are in some ways similar to play or movie scripts, including both dialogue and instructions. But instead of stage directions, comics scripts offer instructions regarding how pages should be laid out, and how each panel should be arranged.

Here’s what you’ll do:

  1. You’ll find a news article on a topic or issue that is intersting to you. It doesn’t matter when it comes from—it can be an article from last year, last decade, last century. It also doesn’t matter where the article comes from, so please feel free to use an article from outside of the US if you would like to (though if it’s in any language besides English, Spanish, or Irish, you’ll have to translate it for me). The important thing is that it communicates a story that you are interested in, and that you can visualize. Look for an article with plenty of details and preferably with some dialogue.
  2. Develop an plan for how you’re going to adapt your article. What is the goal of the article? What is your goal? What is the rhetoric of the article? What kind of details can you bring out to inspire the visual design? What dialogue will you include? What elements from the article are most important to communicate? Keep in mind that while your script should stay as close as possible to the article, you may also take some liberties provided that you don’t change the big ideas of the article. (For example, you may want to add dialogue if there isn’t any, or if there isn’t enough).
  3. Write your comics script. Imagine that you are going to hand it to an artist to draw. What details does would the artist need to know bring your vision to the page? You should include the layout for each page as well as the arrangement of each panel. Also include what kind of color scheme you want (bright colors? bold colors? subtle colors? no colors?), keeping in mind that color can have a profound rhetorical impact. You may use any formatting of your choice for your script, but keep in mind that formatting and font also have a rhetorical impact and affect your ethos so choose carefully and intentionally.
  4. Remember to think rhetorically while your creating your script. What do you wish to communicate to you audience through your comic? Of what do you wish to persuade them? How can you use words and visual elements to appeal to your readers? Be strategic about the choices you make.
  5. Your comics script should give instructions for 5-7 comic book pages. The length of your script will vary from person to person.
  6. Finally, you will write a short (1-2 page reflection) in which you think through the rhetorical choices you made in the development of your comics script.

For extra credit, you may produce pages based on your script by either drawing it yourself, using software, or getting help from a talented friend. The pages don’t have to be perfect, finished products, but should clearly reflect the instructions you wrote in your script. You can get points for each page you produce.

Learning Objectives:

You will develop multimodal rhetorical skills through careful and intentional choices regarding how you will adapt your article to visual media using both words and images. You will engage critical thinking and reading skills to determine what and how your article is communicating in order to most accurately adapt it’s message for your script. You will improve writing and revising skills.

[Here’s a PDF version of the assignment sheet with grading information: Comics Script Assignment]

For examples of comics scripts, check out this great archive.

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