Comic Book Writing: An Interview with Ron Marz

Comic Book Writing: An Interview with Ron Marz

Jacob Krueger: I’m Jacob Krueger and this is The Write Your Screenplay Podcast, and today we have a special guest Ron Marz. Ron Marz is a legendary comic book writer, he is also the newest faculty member at Jacob Krueger Studio and we’re so happy to have him.

And so, today we’re going to be talking about comics; we’re going to be talking about comic book writing and we’re going to be talking about the links between comic book writing and screenwriting.

And so Ron, I’d love to start off. I come from a character driven indie film and television background, so for me, comics are a territory that’s relatively new. And at the same time, I see in our industry there is this incredible overlap that’s happening now where comics are feeding movies and movies are feeding comics and those two industries are kind of dovetailing together.

So if I am a new screenwriter and I am just coming to comic book writing for the first time, what are the things that I want to be thinking about?

Ron Marz: Screenwriting and comics are really kind of half-first cousins. They tell the same kind of stories but they don’t tell them the same way. So the most obvious difference is movies move, comics don’t.

Comics are single images that tell the story and really the action of comics takes place between the panels. The story actually takes place in between the panels and the gutters, then the old chestnut of your mind fills in everything else in a comic. You’re given everything in a movie.

But ultimately, it is all storytelling, there are different aspects to the craft that you have to master, but ultimately it is really character driven, character based storytelling. Whether it is a guy dressed up as a bat jumping off of buildings in Gotham City or a detective in Los Angeles in the early part of the century figuring out a water scam, they’re all the same kind of thing.

And you can tell any kind of story in comic, you can tell any kind of story in film.  Really you have to decide which is the best medium to deliver your story.

Jake: I think one of the interesting things is when you think of movies you think of movies moving. When I think of movies, because I am a screenwriter, I think about the same thing you are thinking about, which is, I think that the stories are told in the cuts between my images that I am going to show you this image and I am going to show you that image and that in the cut in between, you are going to tell yourself a story.

So, I can show you Ron Marz slams his laptop down and then I can show you Jake’s dead body and you know Ron did it, right? Or I can show you Ron slams his laptop down and then I can show Jake and Ron at a socially distanced pool party hanging out and I know, “Oh it looks like they made up.” And so, in those gaps we invite the audience in to tell themselves the story.

But I think one of the things that is interesting to me in comics is how compressed those images are, right? In a movie, I get thousands of images to tell my story.

Ron: Sure, yeah in a comic you know you have 5/6/7 panels on a page and that is it. In comics, a lot of it is about the real estate that you have. You have a finite number of pages; you have a finite number of panels on those pages.

So in that sense, there is a lot more structure in a comic than there is in a screenplay. Because in a screenplay, unless you’re writing a teleplay where you know you have a certain number of minutes that you have to hit, there is a little bit more wiggle room.

In a comic, you know you’re generally working 20 pages, 22 pages for a single issue, 100 pages for a graphic novel, whatever your page count is, you have to make sure everything fits.

So it is really an exercise in structure: both the overall structure of the story into that format, the overall structure of the panels onto the page and then the overall structure of what is in each panel.

Jim Starlin is the one who taught me to do this. Jim Starlin is the creator of Thanos and Drax and Gamora and kind of what the cinematic industry has morphed into now that they’ve moved on from the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko stories.

So, Jim was the one who taught me how to do this and the first time we sat down to talk about it he said each panel in a comic is a frozen moment in time and your job as the writer is to figure out what is best shown in that frozen moment.

He said the old school sort of 35 or 70 millimeter film that actually runs through the film projector is 24 frames a second. Your job is to pick out those still images from that strip of film and translate them into the comic; the difference being that obviously your screen size in film doesn’t change, you’re looking at the same frame all the time in a movie or on TV or whatever it is.

In comics your panels get bigger and smaller, and depending on how you want to direct the reader’s eye and how you want to direct the story, you have that advantage in comics. You know there is a big image of Thanos who is going to destroy The Avengers, that is a big image. The smaller and more personal images are smaller panels on a page.

That is really the huge difference in screenwriting versus comics writing is, you have control of that as the writer or at least you as the writer partnered with your artist to have control of that, and you figure out how to use those tools to best convey the story that you want to tell.

Jake: So when you think about a page of a comic, what are you writing, what does it look like? I mean this is something you cover in depth in your class, but I’m wondering if you’re somebody who is just starting out who maybe has an idea for a comic or maybe has a screenplay or a novel they want to adapt into a comic or into a graphic novel. What goes on the page? How does that get laid out?

Ron: That’s the real nuts and bolts of what the job is; it is figuring out how to break down your story visually into images and then conveying that information to the artist. If you are not an artist, which I am not, I can’t draw to save my life, but I can convey to an artist, “Here is how the page should look. Here is what I want to see on the page.”

And obviously, that’s a collaborative process, you and the artist are co-authors really. You as the writer give the artist the blueprint for what they have to do; the artist is the one who actually builds the house from that blueprint.

And the artist might change things around and that is part of the sort of the alchemy of comic. Hopefully you wind up working with an artist and you wind up with something that neither of you could have done by yourselves. That’s where the real gems are uncovered.

So that process for me is each page has to mean something; each page in a comic has to move the story forward or reveal something about the character; each page needs a specific function in the story, because as I said, you don’t have a lot of real estate with 20/22 pages a month, it has to be concise. So you have to make sure that each page has a meaning, each page serves a purpose and fills a piece of that overall puzzle that you’re telling.

So, what I usually do is I figure out what the meaning is on each page, what action is going to happen or what reveal is going to happen, just in an outline. You know, pages 1 through 20 down the side of a page and you figure that out and move things around and you find a way to fit your story visually into that real estate.

That’s really a big chunk of the job, is that thinking. I always tell people that you know when you’re writing a comic they aren’t actually paying you to type, they’re paying you to figure out what goes on the page. So I figure out what happens on each page and then go back in and break down each page into panels and sometimes if you write a five panel page the artist is going to do it in four panels or the artist is going to do it in six panels and that’s part of that process.

I try to come up with that blueprint of ‘here is what happens in each panel’ and make sure that each panel conveys what’s necessary to move the story forward. A comic is all about pushing the reader to the next page, so you get to the last panel on that last page and you want to have some sort of question or cliff hanger that makes the reader turn to the next page.

Your page ending panels should ask a question and the answer to that question lies on the next page or in the next sequence. So it is a little bit like putting a puzzle together and every writer does it differently. I think that is one of the beauties of comics is everybody approaches this slightly differently, there is no one way to do it.

So in class, I’ll show you my way to do it and we’ll talk about some other ways to do it and then everybody sort of finds their own method that works for them and the artist that they are going to be working with eventually.

It is unlike screenwriting in that there is no one format. You know if you write a screenplay or a teleplay, it is going to be in the format that it needs to be in, everybody adheres to it. In comic that’s a little more loose and it is a little more personalized.

Jake: Yeah one of the things that I think is interesting about comics; you know in screenwriting especially if we are not studio writers, budget is such a big deal.

Where if you are an independent filmmaker, you’re thinking, “Okay, I got access to Aunt Sally’s farm and you know maybe my friend with a bar will let me shoot there,” you’re trying to figure out these minimal locations and how am I going to make this beautiful movie on this tiny little budget that I am able to raise.

And I think one of the things that is really interesting about comics is it costs just as much to blow up the whole world as it costs for two characters to be talking to each other.

And I think that that’s so interesting …like talk about taking the handcuffs off, a way that we can actually dream as big as we want to dream and not sit around having to wait for a studio to say, “Yeah, sure,” you could actually hire an artist and make something that is as big or as intimate as you want it to be.

Ron: Sure, the only budget you really have is the artist’s time and comics being to a great extent still a monthly product, time is something that has to be factored in. Although if you’re doing a graphic novel of 100 or 150 pages, that’s a lot more malleable.

You can show Galactus eating the world in a fantastic war comic just as easily as you can show two people having a cup of coffee in a café, it is central, you know if you give your artist 20 pages of Galactus eating the world, it is going to take a little bit longer; you should give them a breather once in a while.

But in terms of the special effects budget it is all the same thing, which to me is one of the great beauties of comics because that allows you to run with it. That allows you to literally blow up the world if you want to.

The only limit is the imagination of the creative team and the way that you convey that stuff is up to you. You can show the world blowing up in excruciating detail with every bit of rubble and debris, or you can just start that process and then cut to two white pages and everything is gone. Obviously one takes a week to draw and the other one doesn’t take any time at all to draw, you have all of those tools at your disposal.

And I think that is honestly one of the reasons that I do what I do, is that I love that part of the process. To me, the irreplaceable part of the process is when I write something, the ideas that existed only in my head are now on paper.

And then it goes to an artist and the artist makes it real, the artist transforms that into something visual and real and there is still no way to put a price on that, it is the best thing in the world when the new pages come into your inbox every day, it is tremendous. Especially for those of us who can’t draw, it is like a magic trick.

Jake: One of the things I always talk about with screenwriting and I would imagine it is true about comics as well, is I always think that screenplays are more like poems than they are like novels. In that, every element matters, every element has a cost. And every image you show, every line of dialogue is affecting your rhythm, and your tone, and your pacing, and your feeling and the genre.

Where in a novel you can dip in and out of people’s thoughts, you can come in and out of so many different kinds of writing. Whereas in our art forms, we are in an interesting way limited to the things that people can do and the things that we can see and say.

Ron: Right, well obviously both are very dialogue driven and I think comics have become more cinematic in that sense. The comics we read as kids, everybody had a thought balloon so you were privy to everybody’s thoughts; you were privy to Superman’s thoughts as well as Lois Lane’s as well as Perry White’s. If the writer chose to go in that direction, you knew what everybody was thinking, you could get every point of view at all times.

And you can still do that certainly; it is a little less common, now that comics are sort of “grown up” to a certain extent and have become a little bit more like film. They’ve become a little more cinematic, we usually have stuff written from an omniscient point of view where you’re just conveying the actions through the dialogue or you’ve picked a POV character and you’re telling this Batman’s story from Alfred’s point of view, you’re in Alfred’s head as Batman does what he does.

So in a sense the medium has grown up a little bit in the way we tell the stories. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go back to the old school sort of 1950’s storytelling and have everybody with a thought balloon over their head, sometimes what’s old is new again.

And I think one of the things that comics allow you to do that a film doesn’t, is to get all those different points of views. Maybe the most we can get into film these days is the character narration from one perspective.

You can get Deckard’s perspective and Blade Runner if you’re watching the director’s cut with the VO narration, if Blade Runner was adapted into comics. But if you wanted to you could actually adapt Blade Runner into comics and have it told from three or four different points of views depending on how you wanted to arrange your pages, whose head you’re in at the time. Comics give you a little bit more latitude to work within that structure.

Jake: Yeah that’s really interesting any time there is a rule — like in The Tree Of Life which totally breaks that rule in film– where suddenly you’re in this omniscient point of view and you’re in everybody’s heads and you’re hearing all the thoughts that they are saying.

And it is interesting to push up against those rules but I had not actually thought of that, how in my world it is all about externalizing the internal. I’m always trying to do as little as possible with voice over and as much as possible with action, as little as possible with dialogue, as much as possible with action.

And there is something interesting in comics in having that ability in a subtle way where if I drop a voice over into my script that’s a huge deal.

Ron: Yeah and it is a choice that you can’t go back from in a lot of ways. Like once you commit to that, you’ve got to carry that forward.

Jake: Exactly, exactly, it has got to become a thread and then there has to be a structure to it and then there is a whole rabbit hole that you go down there, so it is interesting and I love that you’re talking about this because you know often people who don’t know a lot about comics might think about comics as good guys and bad guys.

And one of the things that I think is so interesting that is happening in comics at least today is the complexity of character and the nuance of character that this is not just purely a visual spectacle medium anymore, this is also a storytelling medium.

Ron: I think when you say comics, previous to the last five years maybe, everybody immediately thought superheroes. And to a certain extent Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest movie franchise ever, “Oh Captain America and Spiderman, and…” sure that’s still a huge part of comics.

But we as an industry are telling all sorts of stories now in comics because we’ve cultivated the audience and we’ve cultivated the readership enough that you can tell any kind of story now, there will be an audience for it. And it might not be the audience that goes to the comic store every Wednesday because by and large they still want their superheroes and science fiction and art, but you can tell any story.

And you should tell any story, biography, true crime, whatever story you can tell in a film or a novel, you can tell in a comic. You might tell that story a little bit differently because you’re working in a visual medium. But certainly, any story that is appropriate in film, in TV, in novels, in a podcast even is totally appropriate to a comic. And there is an audience for it; people are starting to understand that comic doesn’t just mean Superman fighting Lex Luthor.

Jake: Yeah. There are two areas that I think for screenwriters learning comics are incredibly valuable. The first is as a training ground. You know there is this thought like, “A short film, that’s easier than a feature film” or, “I’ll just write a pilot, that’s easier than a feature or mini.” And the truth is that the longer your script is, the easier it is, because you have so much flexibility, because you have so much time, you have so many pages.

Whereas the shorter your piece is, the more challenging it becomes, because every image becomes so damn important and every image needs to be worth the space it is printed on or worth the space it is shot on.

Ron: True.

Jake: And so one of the places that I think comics are incredibly valuable is as a place for screenwriters to actually hone their craft. It is like swinging with a heavy bat in a way to say, “Can I do an entire arc in just these trailer moment images? In just these images that are worthy of sending to an artist that are worthy of being a framed art piece in somebody’s home? How do I tell my story with that kind of efficiency?”

Ron: You know a 20 page comic is not a lot of space, a 6 or 8 page short story, is a lot less. I was working on an 8 page story for The Green Lantern 80th anniversary book that just came out a couple of weeks ago and I really found that an 8 page story is just miles less than a 10 page story.

The difference between an 8 page and a 10 page is a lot more than two pages, it was a revelation for me even and I have been doing this a long time. But there are certain rhythms that you have to adhere to in comics and the less space you have the better you have to be at it, the more succinct you have to be. You can’t sprawl, you can’t talk around your subject for a few pages until you finally get to it. I mean that’s a nice aspect to have, but the shorter your work, the less opportunity you have to do that.

And that’s why I think in the past, a lot of people who broke into comics broke in at Marvel and DC doing 6 page stories, even 4 page stories as backups, because that trains you to do the job. If you could do a 4 or 6 page story, you could definitely do a 20 or 22 page story. The amount of polishing you have to do on that particular 4 or 6 page gem is a lot more than you would have to do on a longer piece.

Jake: That’s interesting because that sounds like a real opportunity for people looking to break into comics is actually the focus shouldn’t be on a longer piece, the focus should actually be in a short piece.

Ron: Ultimately it is much harder to break into comics as a writer than it is as an artist, that’s simply the way of the world. An artist can show an editor, publisher, “here’s my work” and within two or three minutes they know you’re of that caliber that they would want to possibly work with you.

It is a lot more dubious to do that as a writer. The best way to do that as a writer is to show off your comic story, because editors don’t have time to ready your script, but they might have time to read a six or eight page story.

So it is all about learning by doing. You produce a script, get someone to draw it, and then have that be your calling card. It is a tough go but the better impact your short story makes on the person reading it, the more notice you’re going to get.

Nobody has time to read your outline for a 48th issue out of Space Saga that is never going to happen. When you’re 10 years into your career you might pitch that, but as far as being on the front end of your career; short, succinct, something you can hand to somebody who is already in the business and get their feedback and show off what you can do.

Because, again, if you can convey your point in six pages, the people you’re showing it to understand that you can probably do the job in 20 pages.

Jake: That’s such a valuable piece of advice and it also kind of dovetails with the second reason why I think comic book writing is so valuable for screenwriters and why I am so excited to have you at our school — the Hollywood world, especially if you’re into the big budget world but even we’re seeing it drift into the independent film world now, it is a very IP based industry right now, everyone is looking for intellectual property.

In fact, I was just talking to an agent at a major agency who said, “You know when one of my clients finishes a script what I have them do is I have them write a short story and then I go out and I sell the short story and then I get them paid to write script that is already written.” And I asked him, “Is that what everybody is doing now?” And he said, “No, no, no, that’s just me.”

But that is where the industry is going where there is desire for IP (Intellectual Property). As you know there is a tremendous demand in the comic book world because there is money in them. That is a really powerful document to be able to go in with instead of with a long treatment. You  go into a pitch meeting with a six page, bang this is the story but this is also what the story looks like, this is what the story feels like.

Ron: Well, you never want to go into this using the comic as merely a stepping stone to pitch your screenplay; you should do the comic to do the comic. The business sniffs out stuff that is a movie pitch dressed up as a comic real quickly.

But if you’re pursuing it, if you want to take your story and do it as a comic and make it the best comic you can make it because you’re adhering to what we do in this business, then you come out of it with your calling card. Because honestly the same as pitching your stuff to an editor or a publisher in comics, is the same as doing a pitch meeting if you can have your comic as a lead behind.

It is a great calling card; it is all of the imagination work put on the page. You are not asking someone to read a screenplay and then imagine what it looks like, what it feels like, you’re giving them the tools to run with that already.

Jake: And I really like what you said there. You know, I’ve worked a lot in adaptation; adapting true stories, adapting novels, adapting short stories and it is valuable to recognize that these are different art forms just like TV and film are different art forms. And I really liked what you said; don’t just dress up your pitch as a comic, actually translate your piece into what does this look like as a comic.

I know a lot about TV writing and not a lot about comic writing. But when you are making a short story, like if I was making a TV pilot I would be thinking about engine. I would be thinking, “When a person reads this pilot…” if it is a six page pilot it is probably a web series pilot. “If a person reads this 6 page web series pilot, can they pitch themselves what the future of the series would look like? Does the piece have legs to run like that?”

When you’re working on a short story for a comic, do you think of it as a standalone entity? Do you think of it as something that has the engine to be a comic book series or a graphic novel? How do you think about engine when it comes to comic books?

Ron: I think it all depends on that specific IP.. Sometimes your short story is a short story and that’s it and that is the life that it has, that is the life that it needs. But sometimes it is the first chapter of a much bigger story.

And I think a lot of times you don’t know that until you finish it, like you can’t see the forest for the trees sometimes, you’re in the midst of it, you don’t really know where it is going to go. I always feel like you tell the best story you can tell and you step away from it for a few days and come back to it and say, “What do I have here?”

And sometimes what you have is far different from what you thought you had. I have certainly done that on issues, like you sit down and you write the pages and then you come back to it in a day or two and you realize that at page 10 you went that way and the story really wants to go that way.

And to me that’s a wonderful moment, is when you realize that the story is telling you where it wants to go and sometimes you realize that when you’re in the midst of it, sometimes you need a little bit of distance from it. But I think you trust those moments and you trust where it leads you. So, it is a different answer for different contexts.

Again comics are so structured in terms of page counts and how much you can fit on a particular page in that page count, those things tend to work themselves out in the process. I don’t want to sound too esoteric but sometimes the universe tells you where to go and you just follow it.

And to me, those are the best stories where you just hang on for dear life. It doesn’t always happen, sometimes the work is work and you forge through it, but sometimes it just flows out of you — I mean I’ve written 20 or 22 page issues in a day just because it wouldn’t stop, where you’re just sort of a passenger at that point. And man when that happens, it is the best thing in the world, somebody else is doing your work for you.

Jake: Yeah. I really love what you’re saying and I want to kind of drop deeper here because there are these two parts, I always think of them as like the art and the craft of writing. And at the beginning of our conversation, we were talking a lot about craft.

We were talking about like, “You only have 6 images on this page, you’ve only got 4 images on this page, you only have 6 pages” We were talking about the craft, “Every image has to matter, no, no this image has to move the story forward, it has to be visually cinematic, it has to…” all these things have to do with craft.

And I think what is interesting, and it is one of the reasons I am excited to be working with you, is as a writer, you need to be able to balance these two parts. There is this very intense, “Hey, I’m paid to think about this and figure this out,” intellectual process with this kind of magical, esoteric, intuitive subconscious process of going inside and connecting to something that wants to come out of you and allowing the story to kind of tell you where to go.

And I’m curious about how do you balance that in yourself? When you know you need that one image and you’re getting a monologue, what do you do with that and how do you find that balance?

Ron: If I told you I knew that answer, I would be lying. I don’t know, I’ve been doing this for 30 years and that’s the real balancing act. I think ultimately part of this is developing your instincts so that you know which voice to listen to.

And look, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes your story has to be handed off to the editor who is looking at it from an outside perspective and the editor goes, “Oh I see, here is something we need to work on. Here is something we need to change…here’s a fix.” And you go, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

It is certainly part of the process, you try to balance your structure with your imagination I guess. But if I’m going to err on one side or the other, if there is a flight of fancy that’s leading me somewhere, I’ll go with it. And sometimes you get to the end of that rabbit trail and it doesn’t go anywhere.

I think one of the instincts you do develop is when that happens, when it goes somewhere and it doesn’t lead where you think it is going to lead or it doesn’t lead to some place that’s fruitful, you have to be able to cut it. You have to be able to just move on, say, “Okay that was a wasted day,” and be okay with that.

I was talking to a writer over the weekend who had a very specific image to work into the first three pages of an issue and in kicking the story back and forth we realized that was a really cool image but it didn’t fit with the rest of the story.

It didn’t fit with what needed to be conveyed in those first three pages, so it ultimately had to go. I mean you do like any other writing, you do have to “kill your darlings” in this business; the important part is to know which darlings to kill.

Jake: Yeah, it is true. You know in my Write Your Screenplay Class I often start with an exercise I call the bad screenplay exercise and we write a scene that we purposely try to make bad where we put a list on the board of every bad thing you could ever do as a screenwriter and we always try to write a bad scene.

And one of the things that you’ll often see when you do that is that I’ll ask “who wrote the worst scene in the class?” and a student will raise their hand and their scene invariably is brilliant.

And it is such a powerful illustration because it shows you that until you kind of develop that instinct and until you develop your craft to a place where you can see that diamond before it looks like a diamond and recognize what it can become, that a lot of new writers are likely to throw out their best stuff and conversely to keep their worst stuff, to keep the stuff that’s most derivative and most like other things that are out there in the market.

And so a big part of it is just building that confidence as a writer and that nuance of your craft to go, “You know what? That doesn’t look like anything right now, but it is going to look beautiful.” Or, “That looked awesome, but it is fool’s gold.”

Ron: Yeah that’s a huge part of the process, is having the confidence to understand that you’re good at this. And my first job when I was still in college was as a journalist, was as a sports writer and then entertainment writer and editor.

So again, a different kind of writing but there are still a great many similarities to journalism which is taking a finite amount of information and then putting it into a finite space. Comics are much the same; a completely different sort of material and context but there is still structure that you are dealing with.

So very early on, I was an 18/19 year old kid, I got to be relatively confident in my writing because I was doing it every day; it was printed in the newspaper every day. And I learned very early on that not everybody is going to like it, not everybody’s opinion mattered.

So when I came to comics I already had a lot of that armor already. I already had a lot of that self-judgment and confidence in what I was doing, to at least be confident enough to follow my lead. To trust myself enough to see where my instincts were leading me and generally getting proven that okay I do know what I am doing.

So I think part of learning to do this is learning to be confident in your choices. Because comic writing is choice after choice after choice, every panel is a choice. You want to be able to make the right, best choice every time. You don’t always, but the more you do it, the better you get at it.

Jake: Yeah. One of my great mentors was a guy named Joe Blaustein who is a visual artist in California, and Joe wouldn’t let us paint on canvas, he said, “If you try to paint on canvas you’re going to get precious with it and you’re going to start to try to be an artist.”

And he would insist that we painted on paper and what he said about that is he said, “You should feel like you could throw it away that you want to be creating so much volume, you want to be doing so much painting that no individual painting is so precious so that if you have a bad painting day and nothing comes out, well you could throw it away and if you had a brilliant painting day but it is not fitting with what you’re trying to do, you could throw it away.”

And it is such a big journey for writers to kind of get to that place. You know you’re a great writer; people obviously admire you and want to write like you. And getting to that point where you realize I just need to show up and keep writing and keep writing and keep writing and get some guidance so I can start to learn what is beautiful and that Ron Marz writes badly just as much as you do, he is just really good at finding the beauty inside the badness.

Ron: Permission to fail is important. And as I said earlier, you learn by doing, there is ultimately no better way to learn to make comics than to make comics. And your first one is going to suck, your second one is going to suck a little less, and your third one is going to suck a little less, and eventually you step back and go, “Oh I’m pretty good at this and I know what I am doing.”

And I think that permission to fail is hugely important because you learn, I think, you learn more from your failures than you do your successes.

Jake: I know that that’s true for me. And so I want to thank you for your time, but before we wrap up I would love for you to talk a little bit about the class that you are going to be teaching with us.

Ron: So, in an interesting way I’ve done workshops and I’ve done sort of library talks and you do this kind of thing in a very truncated version on convention panels and stuff like that. But this will be my first time sort of in a more formal setting, although believe me with me teaching it is going to be pretty casual.

In a more formal setting to sort of figure out how I do what I do, it has been interesting for me to have to step back from my process and figure out exactly what that process is, because you’ve been doing it long enough that it becomes second nature you don’t think about it.

So this has forced me to think about it and to realize, “Oh I do things instinctually but there’s a reason why I do them and here is what I have learned,” and it has forced me to sort of formalize a lot of those lessons.

So class is four weeks and what we’re going to do in the class is everybody in the class is going to be ultimately writing a six page story and that six page story will be appropriate to that length, but just appropriate. Because, I want to make sure that everybody is packing as much information to that six page story as possible.

So we will learn format, we will learn the how and why, we will learn the visual language. But ultimately, the product of what we’re going to do is by the end of that last class everybody is going to walk away with a six page story that is ready to be professionally drawn and be your calling card if you want to pursue this. Everybody is going to show up with a lump of coal and we’re going to polish it into a diamond in four weeks.

Jake: I love it, I love it. I’m so excited for you to join. And one thing that’s also really interesting on the other side of that for people who are really ready to kind of take the next step in their careers, we’re going to be offering Pro Track with Ron where you can meet with him one on one and develop your comic books with him one on one.

And we’re also going to be by application offering a workshop class with Ron, where we’re going to take each emerging comic book writer and put you guys in a room together over the course of a year or more and everyone will be working on their comic books together.

And so this is really the beginning of a whole department at Jacob Krueger Studio about really trying to serve the comic book community and our screenwriting community as well. And Ron, we’re so delighted for you to be a part of this , so thank you so much for your time.

Ron: I’m excited; one of the things that this business revolves around is trying to pass on what you know to the next generation. That was certainly done for me, and I’m trying to do that with other writers and now we have a more structured way to do that. And I’m looking forward to it; hopefully we’ll grow some next generation writers here.

Jake: Beautiful. So, Comic Book Writing starts Nov 18th, and you can find that at and thank you Ron and we’ll be seeing you soon.

Ron: Sounds great, Jake. Thanks.

Comic Book Writing with Ron Marz

If you’ve been struggling to get your writing going again during this crisis, I would like to make you aware of a couple of things we have going on for our students. 

The first is, we have a free quarantinis happy hour of writing lessons and exercises and community; it is every Thursday night 7 PM EST, 4 PM Pacific and it is hosted by me. It is a fabulous community and you can come for free. If you can afford to make a donation, we will match your donations and apply them to our scholarship fund.

The second is that for every full priced class that is sold during this period, we are giving away two 50% scholarships that allow people who’ve been affected by the crisis to come at 50% off. 

So if you’ve been affected by the crisis you can check on our   and we’ll let you know if we have scholarships available, you can self-identify and you’ll get a scholarship instantaneously if you need to take a class. 

If you are able to afford a class you can know that your money is going not only to help you pursue your passions but also to help other people pursue theirs. You can find more information about both of these on my website. 

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