This might seem like a weird place to start, but it’s one of the best ways. Before we begin we need to know what situation/problem our One-Shot will have and how it will end. Without knowing that we could be wasting pages introducing our characters and creating problems leaving us for no room for the Climax and Ending. Doing that will give our One-Shot the Amateur Seal of Approval. Nothing screams amateur more than an ending on a weird page or having a rushed climax and ending to make it fit with in the page limit we gave ourselves.
No matter what genre we’re doing, we need a Climax. Even if it’s a romance or a comedy, it needs a Climax. No one wants to read a story with people bull-shitting spewing a bunch of pop culture references. We need problems, situations, escalations, or drama. Any of those can be found in any story whether it be a kids story or one geared towards adults. Without any one of those we won’t have a One-Shot, we’ll have a portfolio of our artwork.
So before we do anything, we got to know how this thing will Climax and End. This is what will make or break our story. And the more we’re committed to this part of the One-Shot, the better the odds will be that we’ll finish. Also the reader has a better chance of liking what they’ve read. So to understand how to do these we need to break them down further. There are 4 possible ways our Climax and Ending can go, and I’ll list them here.
Comedy ( Happy Ending ) The protagonist succeeds because he…
Sticks to good behavior or trait
Gives up bad behavior or trait
Takes up a new good behavior or trait
Tragedy ( Tragic Ending ) The protagonist fails because he…
Sticks to bad behavior or trait
Gives up a good behavior or trait
Takes on a new bad behavior or trait
Trage-Comedy ( Indifferent Ending ) The protagonist fails, but it’s a good thing because he…
Sticks with a good behavior or trait
Gives up a bad behavior or trait
Takes on a new good behavior or trait
Comi-Tragedy ( Ignorant Ending ) The protagonist succeeds, but it’s a bad thing because he…
Sticks with a bad behavior or trait
Gives up a good behavior or trait
Takes on a new bad behavior or trait
Comedy ( Happy Ending )
The protagonist achieves the goal and his success turns out to be a good thing. * Comedy means story with a happy ending regardless if it’s funny.
Tragedy ( Tragic Ending )
The protagonist fails to achieve the goal and his failure is a bad thing.
Trage-Comedy ( Indifferent Ending )
The protagonist fails to achieve the goal, but his failure turns out to be a good thing.
Comi-Tragedy ( Ignorant Ending )
The protagonist achieves the goal, but his success turns out to be a bad thing.
Now Comedy doesn’t mean it has to be ha-ha funny. It’s just the proper way to label any story that has a happy ending. As we can see we have four categories for both the Climax and Ending along with some subcategories. If we select a Tragedy Climax, we need to have a Tragedy Ending, and so fourth. You can’t mix and match these since doing so will run the risk of confusing or betraying the reader. If we create a Tragedy Climax and use a Comedy Ending it will be out of proportion. So for a rule of thumb we need to keep it traditional.
Our Climax and Ending will help set the pace for our story and help us lay out our thumbnails just by the content of them alone. However we also need to set a number a pages for them. Since I said no more than 4 pages per scene our Climax will be 4 pages. No more, no less. This is the most important part of our One-Shot so it needs to have the most exposure. Our Ending is also critical. Since we’re only working with 16 pages, we need to keep our Ending short and sweet like the rest of the One-Shot. So leave the last page for the Ending.
That might not seem like enough, but trust me it is. Most of the comic books I’ve read in my life were self contained stories that ended in one issue with everything resolved on the last page. My favorite comic book, G.I. Joe, almost always saved the last page for the resolution.
One page will be sufficient for us because there’s another rule in play that I haven’t mentioned. The Panels-Per-Page, or PPP. In all the How To Books I’ve read they seem to be agreed on one thing. No more than 8 panels per page. Any more than 8 is confusing and too busy. And if you think 8 is too many, go into your own collection. You’ll run into pages that have 8 panels. On average most come in between 5 and 7. By knowing 8 PPP is our max, we’ve got a better understanding of the boundaries we have to work with.
So lets add it all up. We’ve got 16 pages, 8 PPP max, for a possible 128 panels in our One-Shot. We won’t make that many, since I’ll explain later how our story will determine how many panels we’ll need. It just gives us an idea of how much at most we’ll have to draw. And when we break everything down in numbers it doesn’t seem like that much work. If it takes us 15 minutes on average to draw a panel, it will take us 32 hours to finish our 16 page One-Shot. That’s the maximum. And for a frame of reference, most people work 40 hours a week. So relatively speaking we should spend one week coming up with something, writing it, and laying it all out. Another week drawing it out in pencils. And lastly one more week to ink, letter, and either color or tone it. 16 pages in 3 weeks. It’s doable.
So lets see that image again of our pages, only this time marking the area of where our Climax and Ending sections will take place with in it.
Now our One-Shot is beginning to feel proportionate. In fact now it should look like a comic book you’ve read in the past. See what I was talking about. The Climax takes up 2 Pagination Areas, pages 12-15. With in that our Climax could have a total of 32 panels max and we can even make the Ending a Splash Page. Or include a Two-Page-Spread in our Climax on either 12 and 13 or 14 and 15. The possibilities are endless. This is just the beginning of how our story will dictate what we’ll draw in it. By seeing the creation process in this way we’re already getting ideas of how it will look without drawing anything in the pages above.
But we can’t tell the Climax and Ending without the other parts. So let’s move on to the next section that will get the ball rolling. From this point on I’ll be referring to the 5 Sections using letters to distinguish their order. This is so it doesn’t cause confusion when mentioning page numbers and the 5 Sections.
This is an esential read. Also be sure to check out Scott's website to explore other ideas and exercises. Like the 24 hour comic.
Even if you prefer manga, this book is old school. It's full of the basics to get the ball rolling.
Even more old school. This is a must have book to learn how to create Sequential Art. Even the pros use this book.
There are a ton of How to Draw Manga Books, but this one is the complete package. It covers everything one will need to know to get started. Highly recommended.