Fred Van Lente - Writer At Large

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how to format a comics script

I've been very flattered over the years to be complimented on the way I format my comics scripts. I started developing this style when I was a teenager and discovered an unpublished Howard the Duck script that one of my heroes, Steve Gerber, had uploaded to CompuServe -- this very script in fact, that a reader tracked down for me. I modified Gerber's format considerably, particularly under the guidance of Lee Nordling, my supportive editor at Platinum Studios, when we did Cowboys & Aliens together. There have been a few tweaks since then, helped, if I remember correctly, by Nate Cosby while he was an editor at Marvel.

I was inspired to add this page to my site by lettering maestro Nate Piekos, who wrote a great article for his personal site talking about why he likes my format and the logic behind its layout.

So -- keeping in mind there is no "right" or "standard" way to format a comics script -- here's templates on how I do it. This is what I think is the easiest-to-read and the most efficient format for the pencillers, inkers, colorists, letterers and editors to get the information they need to complete an issue.

Remember, save them to the "My Templates" folder in your Office Library or they won't show up in Microsoft Word's Project Gallery.

For more information on writing comics -- not to mention drawing, inking, coloring, lettering, editing, pitching, publishing, and marketing them -- pick up Make Comics Like the Pros by Greg Pak and I.

downloadable templates

Click here for THE TEMPLATE WITH INSTRUCTIONS. (*.dotx)

Click here for a CLEAN TEMPLATE WITHOUT INSTRUCTIONS. (*.dotx)

Click here for a TEMPLATE FOR 1997-2004 MICROSOFT WORD. (*.dot)

UPDATE! The joy of open sourcing: Writer Rob Marland took my template and added fields to automatically add lettering and panel numbers. I am not a fan of auto-numbering but I also type about 90 words a minute (the joys of being an ex-temp) so manually adjusting the numbers is not a big deal for me. You, however, may feel differently, so here are his templates:

Click here to download ROB MARLAND'S TEMPLATE WITH AUTO-NUMBERING FIELDS. (*.dotx)

Click here to download ROB'S AUTO-NUMBERING TEMPLATE WITH INSTRUCTIONS. (*.dotx)

Don't email or tweet me for technical help. I'm not qualified to come to your aid. Fair warning!

script archive

Some completed scripts so you can see the format in action.

MARVEL ZOMBIES HALLOWEEN One-Shot Script / Copyright 2012 Marvel Comics / Read the completed comic here.

BRAIN BOY #1 Script / Copyright 2013 Dark Horse Comics / Read the completed comic here.

ARCHER & ARMSTRONG #1 Script / Copyright 2012 Valiant Comics / Read the completed comic here.

ACTION PHILOSOPHERS: "Immanuel Kant" Script / Copyright 2006 Ryan Dunlavey & Fred Van Lente / Read the completed comic here.

All Contents Copyright Fred Van Lente - All rights reserved.