The most honest answer I can give is that I find source material for comic ideas everywhere I look! News stories, songs, people I know, and just about everything I see.
A glass of water turns into a story about an evil scientist poisoning the water system. A look in the mirror in the morning after a long night turns into a zombie tale.
Reality x 100
Technically, any type of story can be told through comic books and graphic novels.
But creators and fans alike really love comic books because the medium stretches normal life into strange, implausible, funhouse reflections of itself. Reality x 100 = a great comic book story!
As a comic creator, you can take your ideas as far as your imagination allows. Just be sure to leave some connection to the real world, or you’ll lose the connection to the reader.
Most of the time that responsibility lies with the characters. Even if the situation you create for them is completely unfamiliar, if the way your characters respond is in keeping with the personalities and backstories you’ve created, then there’s something for your reader to relate to. Grounded characters seem realistic no matter what you throw at them.
A character can be the catalyst for the story
If you don’t know the story yet, creating a character first can act as a catalyst for the story itself.
Some of the most recognizable and complex fictional worlds have developed from the development of a single character. A kid who was bitten by a radioactive spider, a guy who can run really fast, an Amazon who came to America from Paradise Island to bring peace and justice to the world: the narrative drawn from these characters grew into thousands of stories and ever-broadening casts.
Once a character has a personality and a background, you can drop them into any situation, and how they react to their circumstances becomes the story.
You don’t need to tell an epic story to tell a good one
One of the biggest things that holds writers back is the feeling that they have to come up with the greatest story ever told. Inspiration for an epic story doesn’t strike every time you sit down to write. As I mentioned in a previous post about the four elements of an idea that makes your comic book stand out from all the others, a completely original idea is not a prerequisite for a good story. Original execution of that idea is.
Legendary stories are built piece by piece from a foundation of characters, theme and situation. The more you fill in the details of all those pieces, the richer the texture of your story will be. Even if everything you’ve created in your mind doesn’t end up on the pages of a book, that background texture you’ve created helps inform the characters and the story.
The themes, plots and characters that make good comic ideas are everywhere. Just open your mind, look around and consider what if…?
Something as simple as riding a city bus can be a treasure trove of conversation snippets and character observation. So can reading your twitter feed.
Once you take on the mindset that stories are everywhere and , it’s hard to NOT develop them constantly.
- Observe everyone and everything. Imagine the backstories of random people you encounter.
- Write stuff down. Ideas tend to fly away unless you capture them right away, even when you think you’ll remember, so have a central repository for ideas. Use a note-taking app, a audio recording app, or a paper notebook, but if you have an idea, record it.
- The perfect comic book idea won’t come right away, and a blank page is no way to force it. If you’ve already recorded your ideas, they’re not going to escape, so let them run around in your head for a while before you try to pull them together into a story.