Creating Characters

I’m sure by now you’re wondering if I’m ever going to get around to the creative aspect of making comic books.

The answer is yes.

So, let’s discuss creating characters.

I never seem to know what comes first, the characters or the story. Most time than not, it’s the characters. With the BLOOD & ROSES comic book the characters most definitely came first.

I had wanted to  create an over-sized print to take around to conventions where we were going to sell Blue Line Comic Book Art Boards. Back then we would fill up the trunk of a car and head out to a show.

I wanted to get back into creating comic books so I sat down with Joe Martin and we designed a piece of artwork showing a woman facing off against a giant ogre. Joe was big into D&D. He penciled the artwork and I inked the piece thinking we would color it later. Because of time restraints we never got back around to coloring the artwork but we did print a few over-sized prints which I recently found in our warehouse. (Maybe I’ll start watercoloring them individually and take them with me around cons next year.)

Okay , back on subject. That piece of artwork lay around the studio and one late evening I started jotting down some ideas about who the two women were, how they got there and next –thing-you-know a whole universe developed, one we are currently redeveloping and looking to reoffer along with new work soon.

I’m sure the process will create many more blog posts on how and most important how not to do some processes.

So in this instant the characters came first.

I have created characters for stories such as a upcoming character for the PARADOX WARS story coming out next year. I need a character to fit into a certain position of the story. The character would take a huge twist within the story and may or may not survive which means I wanted the readers to connect with him and care if I decided the story dictated that he needed to be killed. 

For me, if I can create a character and write it so that readers care about them if I kill them off and the readers respond then I’ve been successful. Once we created a book titled RACE DANGER where we wrote and drew one short comic and one full-length comic book. (I’ll post them when I find the scans.) The short comic book appeared in the back of my comic book series titled STORMQUEST.

For RACE DANGER I created a character just for the purpose of hoping that the readers would connect with her and then have her killed leaving emotions scars on the main character. I recently decide to take the concept and write a novel instead of doing a comic book series. So, we’ll see how that goes.

 I’ve been asked many times over the years on how I can write two strong female characters. My answer is always the same. They write themselves. I can create a story/situation and drop these characters into the middle and they will write themselves every time. The reason is that I know who these characters are, what they have experienced their whole lives, how they would react in any given situation and what their responses would be.

When you write a character that shows feelings like BLOOD & ROSES where one character is quick-tempered and ready to jump into a fight and the other wants details and a plan in place before engaging makes the characters more believable and much easier for the writer.

It is important to always write the character the same. What I mean is that you don’t write one character as being a hothead but in another story write the same character as passive. Your readers will want continuity with characters.

One of my favorite book series is LONGMIRE by Craig Johnson (you may have seen the TV show). The main character in the series is Walt. In every book you know Walt is going to do the right thing for justice not always by the law but the right thing. That he loves his family and friend more than anything and would sacrifice his life for them. This is consistent in each book and it makes you feel as though you know the character and what to expect when a new novel arrives.

Creating new characters can be one of the greatest parts of making comic books. Making them contribute to your story and universe is even a bigger challenge.