Came across a posting on a site I frequent wherein somebody was lamenting the fact he'd just read a comic book and seemed disappointed by how few words were on some of the pages. I offered that a good writer working in that medium should be able to mostly tell the story in pictures, and that if s/he was able to tell a good story, there might be pages wherein there would be no dialog and minimal captions, SFX, etc.
To see how I did it, I dug up an old script for one of the Shadows miniseries I did for Dark Horse many moons ago. The format is off because of how it posts on the blog, but the layout of how I did it -- copied, I recall, from how Neil Gaiman's scripts were formatted -- shows the general way a writer scripts a comic. Here are four pages. Note how little dialog and few captions there are.
Shadows of the Empire: Evolution Dark Horse
A five-issue miniseries: Feb.-June, ‘98:
1) After the Fall
2) The Journey of a Thousand Light Years
3) Dark Fires of a Black Sun
CHAPTER TWO: JOURNEY
Page 1, panel 1: One of two top-tier panels, exterior from space, long shot of the tropical planet Murninkam, (as seen in Issue #1, page 21, panel 4: A lot of green, with several large oceans.)
CAPTION: MURNINKAM, A SPARSELY-SETTLED
TROPICAL WORLD FAR FROM MOST
SPACE LANES . . .
Page 1, panel 2: Top-tier, medium angle on Murninkam, close enough to see a lot of jungle greenery, maybe the curve of the planet, some atmosphere. Moving in closer toward orbit.
CAPTION: FEW HAVE REASON TO TRAVEL HERE.
FEWER STILL DARE . . .
Page 1, panel 3: Large panel, middle of the page. Here is Spinda Caveel’s laboratory/palace. This should should be vaguely Middle Eastern, (or maybe looking something like the Kremlin) a central phallic tower with a minaret or somesuch, smaller outbuildings in the same style around the base. White marble or the local equivalent. A high-angle, far enough away to see it rising from a cleared spot on a tropical island situated in a large lake or perhaps a small sea. Might be some floating mats of seaweed, bright sun glistening from the buildings and water. Not a place you can sneak up on easily. And even if you could, you couldn’t get past the FORCE FIELD that shimmers around it . . .
CAPTION: FOR THE INFAMOUS ROGUE SCIENTIST
SPINDA CAVEEL IS MOST JEALOUS OF HIS
Page 1, panel 4: Bottom tier, left part the page. Sitting or leaning against a wall, the twin Pikkell SISTERS, (Issue #1, page 21, panel 3, wearing the same sexy clothes) ZAN and ZU. The impress ion here is of two well-fed cats, lazy, sleepy, but not far from being able to snap awake and take your head off. They both look offstage to the right at:
Page 1, panel 5: Bottom tier, right part of the page. The droid DOC (Issue #1, page 21, panels 1&2,) stands on his base looking at SPINDA CAVEEL. Caveel is human or human-stock, big, stout, thick hair, wearing the Star Wars equivalent of a lab coat and a wicked smile. (Think John Goodman.) He stares at Doc.
CAVEEL: WELCOME TO MY HUMBLE LABORATORY,
AOI-C . . . OR SHALL I CALL YOU “DOC?”
CAVEEL: I JUST KNOW WE ARE GOING TO GET ALONG
Page 2, panel 1: Full page. Interior, Caveel’s main lab. High-tech bio-gear lining the walls, on tables, etc. In the f.g. are Zan, Zu , Doc and Caveel; in the b.g., along with all the biotech stuff, a number of DROID blanks, i.e., bodies that are as yet unanimated, kind of like empty slates, waiting to be imprinted. Can either be hung from the walls or lined up on a long table, inside clear, coffin-like biocabinets. (These blanks need to be military-looking, i.e., large and macho.)
Page 2, panel 2: Insert, lower right, two-shot, big enough to show most of Doc and Caveel.
DOC: THEFT OF A CLASS-ONE DROID IS A FELONY
PUNISHABLE BY UP TO TEN YEARS IN
CAVEEL: SO IT IS, SO IT IS.
CAVEEL: LET’S GET STARTED, SHALL WE?
Page 3, panel 1: Smallish, exterior Guri’s ship, The Stinger, moves through space.
Page 3, panel 2: Medium panel, interior Guri’s ship, medium ﬂangle on Guri. She’s in tights, as seen at the end of Issue #1. Cool, blond, deadpan emotionless.
CAPTION: IT ISN’T EASY IF YOU DECIDE YOU WANT TO
QUIT BEING THE GALAXY’S ONLY HUMAN
REPLICA DROID PROGRAMMED AS AN
ASSASSIN . . .
Page 3, panel 3: Medium panel, close up, Guri’s face. Cool. Cold. Icy.
CAPTION: THE PATH TO REDEMPTION IS CROOKED AND SOMETIMES VERY NARROW . . .
Page 3, panel 4: Large panel, Guri in the low f.g., flashback sequence behind and above her. (Whatever style we used to show flashbacks before.) A montage: Guri faces LUKE SKYWALKER in Xizor’s castle, Luke holds his light saber at the ready. Another image, Guri, seated in a hotel room, PRINCESS LEIA seated across from her, CHEWBACCA off to one side, watching the two. And another image, XIZOR stands next to Guri, his long-nailed hand on her shoulder.
CAPTION: IF YOU ARE LUCKY, THE PATH MIGHT
BE SHORT . . .
Page 4, panel 1: Large panel, maybe half the page. Guri, flashback scene, stands amidst the sprawl of half a dozen men and aliens, a very dramatic angle, fists clenched, splashed with blood. The downed are all her handiwork.
CAPTION: IF YOU ARE UNLUCKY, THE PATH TO
REDEMPTION MIGHT BE EXCEEDINGLY
LONG, LITTERED WITH MEMORY. AND . . .
OBSTACLES . . .
(Note: panels #2, #3 & #4 should be about the same size and all still in flashback mode.)
Page 4, panel 2: This one shows XIZOR, before his death in Shadows. Cruel smile. Sketchy b.g., if any.
Page 4, panel 3: A four-shot: Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca and LANDO CALRISSIAN. Again, b.g. not important.
Page 4, panel 4: Interior Thrumble’s Cantina, MASSAD THRUMBLE seated at his private table across from the BIMBO from Issue #1 (Page 19, panel 2), both of them looking up at somebody who has approached their table but is OOV.