A NEW Service for Comic Writers and Indie Creators

I’m passionate about comics.

It’s a fantastic medium, with a deep, rich history across every corner of the globe. Comics have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember, my earliest memories around 4 years old.

Comics are simply stamped into my being.

As I’ve worked with countless indie comic writers over the years… throughout this entire time, the traditional production chain has been;

  • writer
  • editor
  • penciller
  • inker
  • colorist
  • letterer.

Newer comic writers almost always struggle with the same problems. Heck, even a lot of experienced writers still struggle with these areas.

When I write for other people, leveraging my experience and expertise comes at a premium. My $160/page rate is posted on my home page and in the sidebar throughout this site.

I have an article here, called Story Checklist… it lists, I think 16 different aspects of narrative. Juggling these 16 aspects and whatever ones I missed in the list, to create a genuine story and narrative is tremendously complex.

It’s difficult to approach a story and script at that level and not charge accordingly.

Stick with me here…

But it recently dawned on me, that the traditional comic production chain, may have room for an update.

That smaller production indie comics could take a nod from the film industry and hire on a specialist. Not a second writer to completely rewrite the script, but a writer to take a role more in line with a director. Someone who takes the current material and puts their spin on how to use or show it.

The indie comic production chain could benefit tremendously from this new approach.

In the Working Writers Guide to Comics, I break down the four essential panel elements to every comic panel:

  • Emotion
  • Comictography
  • Mise-en-scene
  • and Movement.

Most folks capture emotion and movement well enough. The comictography (and related mise-en-scene elements) are where so many folks stumble.


Hire me to Visually Direct your script for $15/page

Eight years ago, I coined the term “Comictography” on page 35 of the Writer’s Guide. Where the science and art of motion picture photography is Cinematography, the static visual direction of the comic is Comictography.

All the writing fundamentals I discuss on this site focus on the “WHAT” you show… Comictography, is the “HOW” you show…

Batman enters the seemingly abandoned warehouse on the waterfront.

  • Is this an overhead shot?
  • A low angle shot?
  • A thin panel, setting up a page of many panels?
  • Or maybe it takes up an entire full page!

Comictography is fundamental to good comic storytelling.

While all of these choices on HOW to show Batman entering a warehouse are up for debate, one fact isn’t up for debate…

You simply CAN’T make a comic without SOMEBODY, the artist or writer, directing the camera and establishing the comictography.

Comictography is something newer writers often blunder.

  • They make confusing descriptions,
  • unnecessary direction,
  • or simply don’t have the experience to direct narrative well.

After I wrote the Worker’s Guide, I realized so many newer writers were having so much trouble in this area, I made a sort of redaction in my article, “Newer Writer’s Ignore Comictography!”

I recently edited a new comic writer that had totally butchered their comictography. I found myself explaining concepts I have explained soooo many times before… and then it hit me.

Directors are a critical role in the movie production chain. Producers actively seek out specific Directors for their projects, because they know their skill and vision will elevate their movie.

Why isn’t this done in comics?

There could be a huge benefit for an experienced, dedicated visual director in the indie comic production chain.

There are only two reasons this isn’t done in comics.

#1) Budget. Most indie comic productions are trying to lower their budget, not inflate them.

#2) Ego. Whether it’s the illustrator or the writer, folks don’t always like the idea of delegating part of the material to someone else. They want ownership and pride over it.

While it’s certainly understandable that some writers and artists would want control and ownership over the artistic direction, the plain truth is comictography is a distinct skillset, like any other specific skillset in the comic (or movie) production chain.

In any collaborative medium, if you want the product to reach its full potential, you put the person best suited for a particular skillset in charge of that skill. Period.

Actors, Sound people, Costume people, etc. don’t complain when a director directs…

so why should the comic medium be any different?


Let The Artist Direct:

If you have an awesome artist who excels at comictography, my advice for the writer working with this illustrator, is to “ignore comictography!” Focus on the story and let the artist do the visual direction.

If this artist doesn’t mind taking direction, you could still bring in a specialist, but honestly, you probably don’t need it.

But there are some other situations, where you definitely want to consider hiring a Visual Director:

Maybe you don’t have an artist attached to your script yet.

Or frankly, your artist doesn’t really excel at (or doesn’t like conceptualizing) comictography. This does happen.

Maybe you have a specific vision of the script, but the current version just doesn’t live up to your expectations and you want them improved.

Or finally, maybe you just appreciate someone else’s comictography aesthetic and style, and want to include their skill and vision into your project.

Visually Directing your script, is NOT writing the script.

I’ll take your script and edit only the comictography elements.

I’m not gonna touch your dialogue (see below). How you’ve described your settings or characters. Your scene arrangement, etc…

You (or your writer) have defined WHAT is expressed in the script. Just like a movie director, my job would be to define HOW that material is presented.

Depending on the condition of the script, new visual direction may alter the panel counts. It may also require adjusting the mise-en-scene, another fundamental element in all comic panels. (Mise-en-scene in brief, being the staging of everything within the panel.)

I’ll give your artist visual direction that’s effective, engaging and brings your voice to its highest visual potential!

Ultimately, comictography is a fundamental narrative element that takes many years to master.

Instead of stressing yourself out, leverage my 30 years of writing comics to do it for you.

This is More than Editing!

Normally, when editing, an editor makes a deliberate effort to NOT impose their voice on the work.

Editors primarily deal with catching and fixing problems… but more so, when they see something wrong, editors don’t usually fix it themselves–again, distancing themselves a bit from the work. They merely point it out to the writer and tell them to fix it, maybe with some generalized suggestions.

As a visual director on your script, I would basically be doing the opposite.

I will be ADDING my voice to your work.

Imagine that you had a shooting script for a little movie and passed that script to Steven Spielberg asking him, “Hey, Steven, how would you shoot this?”

Spielberg would apply his personal skills, insights and vision in giving you a map on HOW TO SHOW, the material you’ve created and put together.

That’s what a visual director can do for your comic. 


Hire me to Punch your dialogue for $10/page

After posting this page, a few folks asked me instead of visual directing their script, if I was open to coming on board to tackle some other  specific element.

I had never really thought of this kind of approach before…

After thinking it over for a while, I realized, dialogue is another main element that newer writers often struggle with… and something I would be willing to jump in and add my take on.

While comic scripting includes a lot of moving parts, Visual Direction and Dialogue are the two main areas where I can help the most on a limited budget.



* You choose the level of creative freedom you give me. Tight to the script, or full-freedom.

* You choose the style. I’m a versatile writer, so I can direct the visuals under the umbrella of any specific tone, style, or mood. Obviously, I can judge the style of the script myself, but if there’s something specific you’re going for and specific existing influences, I’m happy to oblige you.

* One and done. You hand me the script… I work it, then hand you back a revised version and we’re done. I don’t go back and forth with folks–that’s co-writing. Obviously, if you have one page of something you don’t like, I’m not going to be a jerk and tell you to toss off… but, the idea is that you’re hiring me to give you my artistic direction and take on the material.

Hit me with any questions.


Comictography Train Wreck

Here’s a couple of real panel descriptions that hit my desk from newer comic writers. These showcase poor comictography choices and really, poor comprehension of comic scripting in general.

Panel 3

Wide panel. We’re looking at everything happen from the dominant side. John has now stepped past the guard on the floor, and is moving to the left where the stairs turn and go down. The laser machine between John and the guard, still points in all of their direction, but John doesn’t notice, as if something is calling him from the right. The guard is slowly getting up. Veronica stands to the left of Marcus, with the robot behind her. Veronica, Marcus and the robot haven’t moved. The robot is further back, closer to the far wall. John is furthest from wall where the robot is. Something outside can be heard, but not seen; a large transport ship scraping against the dock wall as if its magnetic brakes have failed. The lights in the stairwell flicker.

Panel 5

Establishing shot of Veronica, Marcus, and the robot with a series of 3 panels connected, moving them from the third floor to the ground-level outside. Angle the shot, perhaps with some shadowing and lighting cutting across the building, so we don’t see anything happening outside, as if the camera man stands on an imaginary 30ft high platform opposite the building.

It’s difficult to showcase how I would redirect these poor panel descriptions, because good visual direction needs context. I don’t really have enough context to direct these panels properly and you, as the reader, wouldn’t have enough context from my direction, to assess how effective it is.

In the latter example, the writer was trying to jam a sequence of 3 panels in 1 panel description. Yeah, the writer even put in a panel 6 on the same page. The three characters escaped from an explosion in the building. The writer of the script has the characters discussing the situation on the next two pages.

So, as a random stab, just to show you the difference, for whatever it’s worth… I might do something like this;

Firstly, doing an establishing sequence at the bottom of a page is a really poor choice. I would move the sequence up to the next page and perhaps, redirect it as such.

Panel 1


Low key lighting. Veronica, Marcus and the Robot stand outside the building main entrance. Veronica and Marcus stand slouched over, bracing themselves on the building as they try and catch their breath. The robot stands between them, scanning the area with its long range optic lens.

In this instance, I am sticking pretty closely with the original writer’s visualization.

I corrected the mise-en-scene of this panel, to reflect what the writer establishes in the following panels. I didn’t make it up, he had it in his script. He just had the timing and presentation wrong, in that he didn’t give enough of the info in the establishing shot panel.

Further, the writer takes a couple panels to have the robot extract his optic lens and scan around. By establishing the robot with the lens already out in this first (establishing) panel, the script doesn’t need to waste more real estate showcasing that aspect, which by itself has no narrative drive.

Ok, let me do one more;

Panel 1
We see the ambulance has arrived in front of the emergency room. It pulls in an arc so the back is facing the entrance way.

Ooof. Thin. Nothing to it. Really calling for more than one action in the panel.


Here, assuming this element is critical to the narrative, which it really isn’t, but let’s pretend…

I might present this as;

Panel 1


Small panel inset over panel 2. Focus on the front tire of an ambulance locked up and skidding to a violent stop.



Panel 2


Large panel. The front of the ambulance slams into an empty gurney, hurtling it towards the camera.  The flashing ambulance lights above and high-beam headlights are nearly blinding, keeping almost the entire panel mono-chromatic. Only on the outskirts of the panel do the colors and art detail retain their full measure.

The backdoor flies open with one of the medics hanging onto it with one arm, while leaping toward the ER loading ramp. The guy must have a military background, his movements completely efficient, his manner 100% focused. Medics are trained not to panic, but something on this guy’s face wreaks of urgency. 

MEDIC   Get Dr. Miller over here. NOW!

In this instance, I’m moving significantly away from the original writer’s visualization. I’ve kept the core idea, “An ambulance arrives at the hospital with urgency,” but I’ve made it more dramatic, with more narrative weight, and visually, more engaging.

Or at least, I hope so 😉

I’d add one, two more panels to this page max, so the second panel retains all the dominance and energy the original writer was attempting to put on it.

Like I said, these ‘out of context‘ examples are actually pretty difficult to convey accurately.

About the Author —
If you enjoy this article, please share the direct link on your social media.

Newcomer or veteran writer, if you’re working on a project that needs commercial success, Nick urges to you read this intro article.

Nick Macari is a full-time freelance story consultant, developmental editor and writer, working primarily in the independent gaming and comic markets. His first published comic appeared on shelves via Diamond in the late 90’s. Today you can find his comic work on comixology, Amazon, and in select stores around the U.S.