Sometimes, you need comics.

- by Victoria Janssen

I read a lot. I’m a writer, it’s a vital part of what you might call my Continuing Education Credit. Lately, I’ve been returning to comics.

Part of that is due to all the superhero movies that came out this summer, most of which I saw. Those movies reminded me of how devoted I was to following various comic series (The Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil, etc.) in my teen years and early twenties, and how much I learned about story from them, especially ongoing story in the soap opera vein. I also learned quite a lot about characterization, and how it can be built over time (or not be built over time, depending!) using both repetition and small increments of new information.

Since I’m currently in the early stages of formulating a new series proposal, I think these are valuable lessons. It’s been a while since I regularly read comics, but I think that’s all to the good. I’m older now, with wider reading and writing experience, plus I have some critical distance from stories I read a couple of decades ago.

I’ve been re-reading some classics, and searching out some of the new classics, mostly bound together in graphic novel format. It’s been interesting to look at story techniques that depend both on words and images. I’m remembering some of my favorite characters and recognizing how they’ve been present in my own work; I’m thinking of how I can turn that into an advantage for the future. I’m being reminded of the many ways cliffhangers can be used to enrich a story, and examining worldbuilding techniques from a new angle.

I always learn something when I approach writing from a new and different angle.

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