How an issue #2 gets made
There’s a ton of info on the web about how to produce your first comic but very little on how to approach that second issue.
What makes issue two different from the first? On a practical level, nothing. It still has to be written, drawn and printed. As a publisher, you are better armed with more information – you have fewer questions about ‘how’ to do stuff but more questions on ‘what’ you should do.
What do you do to keep things interesting for yourself as well as the reader? What worked well in the first issue and what didn’t? What should you change or refine the second time around? If you were praised for the seriousness of your stories from issue one, do you continue on this tack, or do you rebel and try something light-hearted?
Questions like these spring out of having to meet a set of expectations that were not there when issue one launched. You have an audience (hopefully) and they’re waiting to see what you do next. You become a lot more conscious about what you write – the topics and subject matter you select – and how you treat them.
A case in point is one story I’ve included in issue two called “Brother’s Keeper.” Looking at the selection of stories I had originally queued for the next issue, I felt that the book needed a straight up action story to pick up the overall pace. In this way, I had to be ruthless about what stories were adding something to the overall reading experience.
This is where having a vision for your book is important. It helps keep subsequent issues on tack.
The vision behind the London Horror Comic is variety. It’s four different types of comics that can be rolled into a single tube. When the selection of books on shelves can be overwhelming, it’s the one title anyone should be able to reach for, to make that journey home from work pass quickly.
So if you’re about to write that second issue and hit a wall, think back to what inspired you to start your book in the first place. What weren’t you getting from existing comics that fired you up to do your own? Proceed from there and then become ruthless about the stories you write. If you find yourself writing the same story but with different characters, re-frame the story as a comedy and see what you get.
Above all, take risks. Part of the joy of reaching for a new comic is to see what happens next. So if it’s issue two or issue 300, make sure you keep readers guessing. They will thank you for it.