People often ask about my writing process. I was actually looking at the new edition of Scott Pilgrim 2 the other day like “how DID i write this?” and so I went into the archives and grabbed the outline and a few script pages…
(note: this book was originally created over Winter 2004-5 and released May 2005)
STEP ONE: NOTES (not shown)
I scribbled all over notebooks and sketchbooks (and text files on the computer) figuring out scenes I wanted to show, themes I was thinking about, and the overall direction of the story
STEP TWO: OUTLINE
I turned my mess of ideas into a rough, straightforward, chronological outline (shown here)
STEP THREE: SCRIPT
I turned the rough outline into a basic script.
At this point i was using a bastardized format of my own invention (seen here); later I went on to use a more standard ‘screenplay’ format. My scripts have always been largely dialogue-based with just the barest descriptions of stuff, since I’m writing for myself to draw, and I know what I want stuff to look like — or I figure I’ll worry about it later. (often to my detriment!)
I also want to note that I do a lot of adverb-descriptions on each line of dialogue, ie “offended”, “dismissive”, “incredulous” — that’s really just to remind myself what kind of facial expressions and “acting” I was thinking of. You’re not supposed to do that in a screenplay (via it’s rude to actors, who need to make their own decisions from moment to moment), but I think it makes a lot of sense for comics.
These pages are part of “scene 6-4” on the outline (I always name my scenes like Super Mario levels), which you can see right away I have decided to alternate between Scott/Kim and Scott/Lisa scenes, which wasn’t indicated on the outline at all. This made Scott into more of an active character, pushing the story forward as I intercut between his interactions with the two different girls. This also helped develop the subplot of Scott’s emotional entanglement with both girls.
STEP FOUR: THUMBNAILS
These were always really small, maybe two inches high. I can’t really explain this part of the process at all but I feel like this is where a lot of the magic happens. Somehow the text stuff goes in my brain and comes out in these weird scrappy little drawings that always closely resemble the final pages.
Here are the finished pages (from the new edition, colour by Nathan Fairbairn) where you can see how some of the dialogue from the original script got dropped or reworked. These pages seem to have had a bare minimum of revision, though, compared to some of my later stuff (volume 4 script pages were like 85% crossed out and rewritten).
OH, BY THE WAY, THE COLOR EDITION VOLUME 2 OF SCOTT PILGRIM WILL BE IN STORES NEXT WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 7th!