If you've attended any of the comic book workshops I teach with Prime Vice Studios, you know that the first thing I talk about when it comes to writing a comic is creating an iconic character.
In comic books, iconic characters rule. Think about it. Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc.
This also applies to literary writing.
The first thing we do in our comic book workshops is design the character based on physical appearance, personality, hobbies, strengths/weaknesses, place of origin, etc. I find this helpful in my creative nonfiction and fiction writing as well. Iconic characters help readers get emotionally attached to the story. Once they read a story with an iconic character in it, they will want to read all the stories with that iconic character in it.
Unfortunately, one thing you may have noticed with all the comic book characters I listed above is that they are all White and mostly male.
It is important for more of us, people of color, to create iconic characters of color whether in comics or in the literary world that represent us the way we want to be represented. Thousands of authors get published every year, but only the ones with the most iconic characters and the strongest storytelling skills are remembered well beyond their lifetime. Whether you are reading the Odyssey or Huckleberry Finn, it is the strong timeless characters that you relate to and whose journey you want to follow in the story. We need more iconic timeless characters like these of color in modern literature and the only way for that to happen is for more of us to write them. When you write an iconic character of color, you are not just diversifying the industry, you are also creating an intellectual property (IP).
Once you have an iconic character, you have an IP that you own. This can pay you dividends for generations to come and give you a consistent creative outlet for your work. For example, even if the writer/creator of Spider Man, Stan Lee, passes away, Spider Man will still live on, continue to make money, and continue to develop into new comics, movies, toys, etc. You can do anything with your own IP. You can write multiple stories with it, you can turn it into a movie, video game, merchandise, whatever you please! Having more long lasting iconic characters of color out there will bring long term wealth to our families and our communities.
Writing an iconic character is no easy task, especially for some of us literary writers who tend to focus more on the story and how the characters fit into the story. It is also difficult for comic book artists because they often end up focusing more on the art than the characters and story.
One of the ways in which writing comic books has helped me with my literary writing is that I have started to build more well developed characters using the template I use for my comic book characters. This has helped me write stronger characters and have a stronger voice as a writer. I also use the same templates to teach.
If you would like to use my templates for writing more iconic characters, creating new IPs, writing a story, or starting your own comic book, you can purchase the Prime Vice Studios “Fresh Voices” Comic Creator workbook. It’s not just for comic book artists or writers. Anyone can use it to create and develop an original story idea or a new IP. The workbook can also be accompanied by the free online tutorials on the Prime Vice Studios YouTube page if you are unable to attend our workshops.
Hope you guys find the workbook helpful. If you already have one of our workbooks, I would love to hear your feedback on it.
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to share your perspectives on this topic in the comments below. I’d love to hear your experiences with creating strong characters of color and your opinions on developing IPs. Also, who are some iconic characters of color that have inspired you?
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For my Atlanta readers, we are teaching the Prime Vice Studios “Fresh Voices” Comic Creator workshop on the Atlanta Beltline for their AMFM Summer Fest at The Bakery Atlanta from 2-3pm today, tomorrow, and Friday. If you come to our workshop, you can get our workbook for FREE!
See you guys there! :)
Next Wednesday’s blog will be more #browngirlwrites stories.
Happy Writing! :)
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Art by Loso F. Perez of Prime Vice Studios, LLC.