Creating Comic Books - Part 3 - The Script and Formatting

Now that the outline and synopsis are in a good spot, you can begin the best part; writing the scripts. Here I'll show you some formatting options as well as some general tips for how the script will translate to the finished page.


Let's start with the programs used to create a script. I am a graphic designer by trade so my program of choice is Adobe Indesign. Since I also did the layouts and lettering, Indesign was the ideal option for me. If you're not a designer and don't plan on doing the layouts or lettering yourself, then using Indesign probably isn't worth it, nor would it be worth the cost for you.

You can really use anything though, for a script program. Microsoft Word, for instance, would work fine. The main thing to keep in mind is the fact that more than likely the only person that will be seeing the script in this form would be the artist you are working with. (If you're at the professional level, then I assume potentially the editor would see this as well). So with that being said, it doesn't matter that much as to the program you use to create the script. The biggest thing is that the script is clear and simple for the artist to work from.

-Offers a free service for script writing.

Adobe Story
-If you have a cloud subscription then this is another great option. I believe it is still free to users even if you don't have a subscription.


One of the initial things you want to decide when formatting the script is how many pages is each issue going to be. The general range I found of comics today is from around 18 pages to 24 pages. Some first issues of a new series will be longer and be around 30 to 36 pages, but those are more on the rare side. And now when I talk about pages in this instance, I am talking only about the content of the actual script. So this does not include pages for advertising or the front and back cover.

I'll get into this more in another post in the series, but in printing, the total page count is done in fours. So one sheet of paper unfolded accounts for four total pages when folded in half with double sided printed.

So, an example, the issues for RELIVE are 22 pages of script. The next divisible by 4 page count is 24, which would only give me two more pages to work with. That would give me a cover and a back cover. This wasn't ideal since that would mean the story would start immediately on the interior front cover and end on the interior of the back cover. So for me, I had to go up another sheet, which added four more pages to the issue total.

To recap then, that's 7 sheets of paper, multiply that by 4 (since it's double sided and folded in half) you get 28 pages total. 2 pages are for the front cover and back cover. 2 pages are for the interior front cover and the interior back cover. Then 22 pages of script, which left me 2 free pages to add legal info and a lead in page. Again that's more information than you need right now and I'll cover that again in another post, but this is a good gauge to understand when determining how many pages you want your issues to be.

Here is a 2 page excerpt of the format of the script that I wrote for issue one of RELIVE.

This is how each page is broken down.

First I'll create the panel with its description.


  1. For each panel, limit the action of what is happening. Think of these as story boards, not live film. For example, say you want to show a guy opening a beer and drinking it and throwing away the can. Don't put all of that action into one panel description because that can't all be conveyed in a single static image. Instead break that action up. So panel 1, pulled back shot of fridge. Panel 2, guy standing with fridge door open, beer in his hand. Panel 3, close up of beer top being opened. Panel 4, medium shot of guy drinking beer. Panel 5, guy wiping his mouth while other hand is throwing can in a garbage bin.

Next, if any, write in dialogue from the characters, captions or sound effects that pertain to that panel.

Repeat this process for each page until you reach your total number of pages for the issue.


  1. A good average number of panels per page is between 4 to 6. As a general rule, if there's going to be a lot of dialogue on a page, I'll try to keep the panel count a bit lower. If there is going to be little to no dialogue and it's mainly action then the panel count can go a bit higher. I would try not to go past 10 panels per page, but it can be done. Ultimately it will depend on what the content is and the creativity of your artist. (I recommend checking out what David Aja did on his run of Hawkeye.)
  2. You don't have to overload the panel descriptions, but make sure there is enough detail for your artist to understand the scene.
  3. Be careful with how many dialogue exchanges there are between characters on a single panel. If there are too many exchanges, it can become confusing as to who is talking and what order the dialogue should be read in. I've found around 2 to 3 sets of exchanges (depending on how long each exchange is) is a comfortable range for a single panel. (If you are thinking you are going to have a lot of dialogue exchange, I recommend reading pretty much anything by Brian Michael Bendis.)
  4. Be aware of which character is talking on the actual panel and what characters you can have off panel and still have the scene make sense.

Here is what the finished product resulted in based on the above script pages.

Once your first draft of your script is complete, I would recommend showing it to someone who will give you honest feedback about it. Then step away from the script for a day or two and then come back to it. Reread it and make any revisions that will make it a stronger script.

When you are satisfied with the state of the script, then you can move on to the next phase; finding an artist.