If you are planning on submitting a continual story comic strip in the Bomb Shelter Comic contest, you have your hands full. This specialized form of comic writing requires more story telling than other type of comic. And it all has to begin somewhere.
There are some comic strips who don’t follow any type of story line. Peanuts is one of the most obvious, but others such as Blondie and even Reggie and the gang didn’t rely on any continuity in their scripts. To this day we have no idea where Charlie got Snoopy, and how the heck he became friends with Lucy.
Continual story line comics are different. You have to remember what your characters did last week, last month, -and if you’re lucky – last year. Think superhero comics. We all know how Batman got his wings and why Superman hates kryptonite. More complex was the Spiderman comic, who day to day worked off of the events that had just transpired. Sort of like a super hero soap opera.
How to Get Started
For some people it starts with a great character, and then their history while other comic writers get an idea for the backstory first and then build from there.
For example, you are a student at an ultrasound technician program and start thinking about how a good story would be a student who finds a way to use a sonogram machine to tell if people are lying. This would open up a lot of plots for your future comic, but it is character based. If you had thought how a chemical spill caused the sonogram machine to have this amazing power, your story is history based.
The story of the superhero ultrasound technician and his trusty sonogram machine will need to have some backstory. Or you can treat it like a short term comic and never talk about how the character came to want to be an ultrasound technician, or how he got his powers. Once you decide on how detailed the story should be, you can go ahead and begin putting your comic together. Just make sure to get all the details right like salary, how to, certification, etc. (check out MedicalU.org to get the details).
All the Good Back Stories are Taken
Not if you have a creative mind their not. Sure you have the Hulk’s messed up potion and Spidey’s spider bite but there are other methods of giving your protagonist his powers. You only need to find the right one that fits your vision. If it were me writing about the ultrasound technician, I would incorporate the lying machine into the backstory. Maybe he helps people this way because his family fortune was wiped out in a Ponzi scheme, or he lost his job because a co-worker told a lie about him. Something traumatic that would make mind seek vengeance against other liars.
You have a lot to think about, and not much time to accomplish it. Now is crunch time, where if you have aspirations of being chosen in this years comic challenge you better start cracking.