Where Words and Pictures Party

Building an Idea pt.2

Added on by Timothy O'Briant.

So I'd decided to make a comic book. I had 6 songs on acoustic guitar, I had 48 blank pages, and I had some simple sketches of a mermaid and a sailor. I wasn't anywhere close to a comic book! Before I let reality come crashing in on my dreams I dove into my guitar and played every song over and over and over. I thought through each song and decided upon one main plot point to encompass each chapter. These were incredibly vague. "Fish in the Sea" had the incredibly detailed plan of "sailor and mermaid play to Atlantis". Even still, this was my first shoestring narrative I had affixed to the songs. Things changed a lot from this point, but a little more structure was down. I felt like the story was flowing with the tone of the album. I hope it comes across to the readers. If nothing else I want the mood in each chapter to echo those in the song.

Once I had an idea of what was going to happen in each chapter I went back into the lyrics. How could I continue to dig from my songs without the story becoming a direct translation of the music? I wasn't sure how to approach the chapter, it was too daunting. I fell back on lovely, random mathematics to ease my burden. I'd chosen to have eight pages per chapter, so I decided to divide the lyrics into eight pieces each. I don't know why I thought this would help, it may have just been a bit of proactive procrastination. Looking back I suppose what I was really doing was looking at the lyrics from a different angle. A fresh perspective to attack problems from.

Whatever it was, it worked. Using the chapter plot to give me an idea of what needed to happen I started reading the lyrics under each page number. I would let that bounce around my head in isolation and start scripting what would happen on each page. It's at this point that some of the ideas started coming together. The sailor needed to get on the boat, but why would he leave? I could look to that pages lyrics and mull over an answer. The sailor needs to go underwater to meet the mermaid, so I looked for the page containg the lyric "dragging me down". That's a good place for him to submerge. Sometimes the lyrics would impact the imagery, sometimes the narrative. At some points they may pop up in dialogue or in captions. I tried to make very few explicit or direct correlations, but to be mindful of the music and message through every page of the books scripting.


It took some time plotting what would happen in each of the 48 pages. The songs and album weren't written to represent any sort of narrative. The story was being slowly built around the lines of each song. Even at this point things were still extremely vague and would change around quite a bit before everything was said and done. There was no dialogue, not even an idea of panels or layout. That would have to wait until the next couple of steps, and I'll tell you all about it at the next Comic Curve.

-Jon O