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How I Write a Comic Book Script

The other week I posted a few tweets about the practical steps I take when writing a comic book script. The thread took off and the initial tweet has now been viewed almost half a million times (!!!).  So here’s the whole thread, all cleaned up and expanded on — hope it’s helpful! (And if you’re intrigued by my ideas, please do subscribe to my email newsletter!)

How I Write a Comic Book Script

A big note up front: Everyone has a different process! This is just what works for me, right now, for the most part, most of the time. Be sure to check out what other writers do as well — here’s a fun thread from Tim Seeley describing his process, for example. Then figure out what works for you and do that.

So here’s what I do:

Just one example of my brilliant outlining.

1. Outline the whole thing. This is an entire topic unto itself. But if my outline is really working, it nails the big plot beats as well as the big emotional turning points and thematic brushstrokes — all the essential things that make the story work and matter. A great outline means the scripting goes MUCH more smoothly.

2. Break the outline down into pages.

3A. Break pages down into panels first, then add dialogue.

OR, depending on the scene and how I’m feeling:

3B: Hammer out some dialogue first, then break the pages down into panels.

NOTE: When determining panel breakdowns and page breaks, I always try end a page with some kind of mini cliffhanger. A question, a half finished thought, an action that gets completed on the next page. Gotta keep people turning pages!

4. Write from the beginning, but if I get stuck, skip around and write the easier scenes first.

5. Go back and write the harder scenes, which are easier now that I’ve done the rest.

6. If I’m really stuck on a scene/beat, call up my editor and talk it out. Editors are awesome. Sometimes they just nod and say “uh huh” and let me blab until I work it out. Sometimes they ask just the right questions. These calls ALWAYS help.

7. Rewrite the easier scenes now that I’ve written the harder scenes and know my story better.

8. Revisit the harder scenes again now that I’ve figured out what I needed to tweak in the easier scenes.

9. Go through and edit everything multiple times, paying special attention to little details, making sure I’m explaining what needs to be explained for the artist, and making sure that if, during revisions, I’ve added some detail or bit later in the script, I’m properly setting it up if necessary earlier in the script.

10. Turn it in when I run out of time.

11. Enjoy that fourteen minutes of calm you get after turning in a script.

12. Get feedback from my editors/creative collaborators and work on revisions.

13. Figure out what it’s REALLY all about and make the subtle dialogue and action tweaks that bring out that deeper theme/emotional thread.

Hardest parts of writing a script:

  • The outline.
  • The beginning (particularly working in exposition seamlessly in a serial story).
  • The ending/cliffhanger.
  • Pages 14-16 or so. Those beats before the climax.

(p.s. it’s all hard, sorry.)

Other thoughts:

There’s an interesting mechanical aspect to writing a script. Where you come up against page count limits, for example, and realize that helps you make decisions that work. For example, every once in a while, I’ll have a three page scene that’s hard to crack. So I’ll write everything that precedes & follows it. And suddenly I discover that there’s only a page left for the tricky scene — and that’s all it needed. Or maybe I don’t really need it at all.

(Relatedly, more than once, when I’ve had a huge amount of trouble figuring out how to crack a scene, I ultimately discovered that I didn’t need the scene. I had trouble cracking it because it didn’t belong.)

Two general notes to myself that always seems to work: Give your characters quiet moments that dramatize character, especially early in the script/story, and give the big emotional beats time to play out. Let it breathe when it needs to breathe.

There’s a kind of unspoken, panicky pressure, particularly in superhero comics, to blow something up pretty quickly. Understandable. Gotta grab people’s attention in five page previews. But action without emotional drama falls flat. Gotta take the time to build character and emotional drive.

Other ongoing activities essential to the writing process:

A. Drink a glass of water.

B. Get enough sleep and food.

C. Acknowledge that whatever you’re writing this very instant isn’t perfect, but you’re gonna revise it and make it better and “perfection” is an illusion anyway.

Finally, if you’re looking for more comics making advice from yours truly, please feel free to check out MAKE COMICS LIKE THE PROS, a how-to book I co-wrote with the great Fred Van Lente with amazing art by Colleen Coover.

And finally finally, if you like this kind of advice, please do subscribe to my revamped email newsletter, where I’ll be sharing this kind of thing regularly, along with all kinds of other sneak peeks and bonuses!

By subscribing, you agree to receive our newsletter and agree with our Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Thanks much and keep on writing!

2018.01.31 – INCREDIBLE HULK #712 in stores today!

Pretty excited about this one, folks! INCREDIBLE HULK #712 hits comic shops today, written by yours truly with art by Greg Land and Jay Leisten, colors by Frank D’armata, and letters by Cory Petit! Check out the preview here and ask your local shop to hold a copy for you today!

And here’s North Carolina retailer Lord Retail saying nice things about the book on Twitter:

Master List of Places to Preorder Comics Online!

Last week I made a bit of a ruckus online by posting this tweet, which has now been viewed more than 315,000 times:

Long story short: monthly comic books are sold in the United States through a quirky system that involves retailers ordering unreturnable books from a distributor called Diamond three weeks before they hit stores. The upshot is that you’ll see comics creators and publishers constantly encouraging (begging?) readers to preorder books with their local retailers, because publishers decide how many books to print based on the preorder numbers they get from Diamond. So preordering becomes the one of the very best things a reader can do to help ensure a book’s success and survival.

There are many problems with the system. But let’s focus on one big issue for the moment: in the digital age, consumers are used to clicking a button and buying a thing online the instant they hear about it. But preordering comics tends to be a more complicated process that requires making a special request to a retailer via phone calls or store visits. The vast majority of civilians who might take an interest in a comic book will simply never do that, so it’s not only hard to take preorders from long-time readers, it’s incredibly hard to expand the readership and get preorders from new readers.

But we live in the digital age! Even way back in 2004, when I first started writing comics professionally, there should already have been a website where anyone can preorder and prepay for upcoming comics from their local shops, right? Well, several years ago, Comixology, the flagship distributor of digital comics, built a “Pull List” service that local retailers could use to take pre-orders online. But Comixology has announced that they’re discontinuing that service in March 2018.

After I posted that tweet, a few folks from Diamond contacted me to let me know that the company is working on a new service that will offer some of this preorder functionality through its website, — which sounds fantastic! Here’s a bit more about that:

So, very exciting! But that service doesn’t exist just yet. And as a comics creator, I want to do a better job of providing readers with nice links they can use to preorder my comics online right now.

Thankfully, a bunch of comic stores have created their own solutions, and a bunch of great people recommended them to me via Twitter. I promised to make a master list and share the results. So here we go!


Places I’ve Done Business With Myself

Midtown Comics, based in New York City, has a great website with a previews section where you can search for and pre-order your books, usually at a nice discount. Then you can either have the books shipped to you, anywhere in the world! You can also set up a pull list online, with the option of either picking up the books in person or having them mailed. I buy a lot from Midtown (and do frequent signings there). They’re great. (Creators, if you want to find direct links to your books that you can share online when you plug your work, search for your name and choose to list results “By Date.” Here’s what my list of my books available for pre-order looks like.), based in Portland, also has a great website that allows you to select “Pre-Orders” in the search field and then pre-order whatever upcoming books you want, usually at a 20% discount. They also ship anywhere in the world. TFAW also has dedicated pages for Comics Pre-Orders and Graphic Novel Pre-Orders. I’ve ordered a lot from TFAW over the years, and they’re great. (Creators, this is another great website that lets you find direct links to your books that you can share. Here’s what that search field looks like if you search for “Greg Pak,” just in case you were wondering.)

DCBS is another online-only store where you can pre-order books at a big discount. They’ve got a search window on their front page that allows you to find books by title or creator, which is great. Here’s what comes up when you search for my name, for example. You can also scroll over the “Preorders” tab and find pages that list all current preorders by publisher. Multiple folks sang the praises of DCBS to me via Twitter. is an online-only store that has a pre-orders page where, again, you can pre-order books at a substantial discount for mail delivery. I haven’t pre-ordered from them personally, but I’ve bought a lot of graphic novels from them in the past and they’re great. (I also have a soft spot on my heart for them because this company used to be Lone Star Comics, which ran my local comic shop a million years ago when I was growing up in Dallas. Memories!) Worth noting for fellow creators — it doesn’t look like it’s possible to directly link to a public page for individual preorder books here, alas.

Third Eye Comics, a tremendous retailer based in Maryland, has an online pull list service that lets customers preorder books online and then pick them up at the Annapolis or Lexington Park stores. Check it out!

Venues Recommended by Readers and Colleagues

ComicHub is an online service that lets readers preorder comics with a number of local shops across the US, including Fantom Comics in Washington, DC. You can check the ComicHub website to see if your local store is a member. This particular system isn’t designed for creators trying to plug their work — you can’t directly link to public pages for individual books, as far as I can tell. But multiple people told me via Twitter that the service is working great for them for preordering with their local shops.

Collector’s Paradise in Winnetka and Pasadena has a subscription service you can set up online for either pick up in-store or mail delivery. Comes highly recommended by comics writer Jim McCann.

Forbidden Planet in the UK takes subscriptions online, lets you set up a wish list, and lets you select for “preorders” in its store search window. Here’s what it looks like when you search for my books, for example. They ship everywhere.

Page 45, based in the UK, has a Previews section where you can browse through the catalog of upcoming books and place preorders online. In case you were wondering, Kieron Gillen calls this website “HIGHLY CRUSHWORTHY.”

Mega City Comics, based in the UK, allows you to subscribe to comics online for delivery to UK and European addresses.

Comix Zone – retailer based in North Syracuse, NY that also takes pre-orders for mail delivery online.

Atomic Empire – retailer in Durham, NC that lets you subscribe to titles online.

Off the Wagon – retailer in Kent, OH, that lets you subscribe to titles online.

Hypno Comics – retailer in Ventura, CA, that lets you subscribe to titles online.

Acme Comics – retailer in Greensboro, NC, that takes subscriptions/preorders via a pdf that you can download at the bottom of this about page.

Graham Crackers Comics in Chicago, IL, lets you subscribe to series online.

Alter Ego Comics in Bellevue, WA, lets you subscribe to series once you register and login to their system.

If I missed a shop you recommended or if you know of another good retailer or service that lets you preorder comics online, please do reach out to me via Twitter and let me know! I’ll do my best to update this list in the coming weeks and months.

Also and as always, even if a local venue doesn’t appear on this list, visit or to find your local shops and place your preorders with them directly!


2017.01.17 – WEAPON X #13 in stores today!

Excited to report that WEAPON X #13 hits comic book shops today! The book features an over-the-top team up between Sabretooth and Nuke in Santo Marco with gorgeous interior art from Yildiray Cinar and Frank D’armata and a cover from David Nakayama.

Check out a five page preview right here and ask your local comic shop to hold a copy for you today!

2018.01.10 – MECH CADET YU Volume One Collection and issue #5 in stores TODAY!

BIG NEWS! The first collected trade paperback of MECH CADET YU and issue #5 both hit comic book stores today! So in one day, you can get all 110 pages of the story so far! Call your local shop and ask ’em to hold copies for you!

MECH CADET YU tells the story of Stanford Yu, a janitor’s kid who bonds with a giant robot and joins the elite Sky Corps Academy. It’s written by yours truly with art by Takeshi Miyazawa, colors by Triona Farrell, and letters by Simon Bowland, and it’s the best reviewed book I’ve written in… well, maybe, ever. Issue #5 has already gotten a 9.5/10 review from AiPT — check it out!

The series has also been tapped for a bunch of “Best of 2017” lists — check out a few below!

Bleeding Cool

Geeks of Color

Panel Patter

Den of Geek



And if that’s not enough, check out the preview pages for issue #5 below!

Marvel interviews Greg Pak and Cory Smith about WEAPON H

Excited about WEAPON H! Cory Smith and I are having a heck of a lot of fun and the interview gives a sense of the deeper emotional story we’re exploring with this ludicrous, over the top premise.

Here’s an excerpt from the new interview at Is it difficult to write/draw the juxtaposition between military discipline and unbridled power in one character?

Greg Pak: I’m having a great time with it. I’ve written Hulk stories for years—a little over a decade, in fact! I’ve written a scientist as a Hulk (Banner), a barbarian as a Hulk (Skaar), and a cocky kid as a Hulk (Amadeus). But now I’m writing a grunt, a trained, disciplined soldier as a Hulk. And that’s a great new dynamic that opens up a whole set of new stories and themes to play with.

Cory Smith: I really like what Greg and co. have set up with Clay’s military background and how that would affect/influence a guy with this much power. He’s this unstoppable force of nature with the discipline to command or restrain that part of himself as he needs it. It’s kind of unprecedented, really. (And a whole lot of fun to draw when he cuts loose.)

Read the whole interview here!

And ask your local comic shop to pre-order issue #1, coming in the spring!

The best things I wrote in 2017

We’re coming to the end of 2017, and I’m ready to kvell a bit. Here’s a list of the work I’m the most proud of in 2017. Hope ya dig!

MECH CADET YU tells the story of a janitor’s kid who bonds with a giant robot and joins the elite Sky Corps Academy. Drawn by Takeshi Miyazawa with colors by Triona Farrell and letters by Simon Bowland, the book was originally approved as a four issue miniseries. But because folks like you went nuts for it, BOOM! Studios upgraded it to an ongoing series!

I’m not supposed to say which children are my favorite. But you guys, MECH CADET YU is my favorite. I absolutely love working on the book, I love all my creative collaborators, and I love our kid heroes and all their robots and all the monsters and mystery surrounding them. Ask your local comics shop to order the first trade paperback and issue #5 for you today — both hit stores on January 10!

The PLANET HULK PROSE NOVEL came out in October, and it’s my very first prose novel! I loved every minute of working on this book and I won’t lie — I think it’s pretty great.

If you loved the original PLANET HULK comics, the prose novel’s full of extra development and revelations and a bit of a shocker of an ending that you won’t want to miss. If you’ve never read a Hulk comic in your life, I humbly propose that this novel might be a great introduction to the massive emotion and glory of the character.

And holy cow, you can get it for JUST TWO DOLLARS right now for the Kindle!

TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #15, drawn by the great Mahmud Asrar with colors by Nolan Woodard and a stunning cover by Stonehouse, may be one of my favorite single issue comics I’ve ever written. It starts the “Big Apple Showdown” storyline, which is most infamous for featuring what I’m pretty sure is the biggest team-up of Asian American superheroes ever seen in mainstream comics.

I adore my editors for letting me follow this crew of heroes around as they perform at an Asian American bone marrow registry awareness benefit, get Korean barbecue, fight over the check, and sing karaoke before defending New York from an alien invasion. I love it for the diversity within diversity, with Asian Americans of different backgrounds and generations discovering their conflicts and similarities. And I absolutely love Mahmud’s and Nolan’s gorgeous art, which brings out all the emotion, action, and sheer fun of the story.

And you can buy the collected digital volume (which also includes a two-issue story co-starring the great Jeremy Lin) for a scandalously discounted price of just $2.75 at Amazon/Comixology today!

Sending out another Greg Pak Newsletter today with fun bonuses – subscribe now to get in on it!

MECH CADET YU art from Takeshi Miyazawa and Triona Farrell.

My revamped email newsletter has been a blast so far — I’ve sent out three newsletters over the past few weeks with a few free comics and lots of news.

Today I’m sending out another edition with a nice discount coupon for the Greg Pak Shop and some exclusive sneak images that haven’t been shown anywhere else from an upcoming comic book!

Subscribe today and don’t miss out!

By subscribing, you agree to receive our newsletter and agree with our Privacy Policy. You may unsubscribe at any time.


So a little over 24 hours ago, I posted this on the Twitter machine:

Since then, the tweet’s been viewed over 115,000 times and dozens if not hundreds of Asian American creators have used the #AsAmCreatorRollCall hashtag to tout their work. And hundreds more people have retweeted those tweets.

And my heart’s grown three sizes.

Fifteen years ago, when my producers and I were taking our Asian American sci fi feature film Robot Stories to film festivals, I remember a distributor telling us to our faces that it seemed weird to him that the film had all these Asian people speaking English without accents. I think we just stared at him in astonishment. He didn’t say it in a rude manner; he wasn’t trying to be offensive. He just totally didn’t get it. He didn’t get the film, and he didn’t get us. Even though he literally talking to real live Asian Americans, he didn’t seem to understand that Asian Americans exist or could tell stories that other people could relate to.

In the end, Robot Stories played in over 75 film festivals and won dozens of awards. We self distributed the film theatrically, and with the help of a bunch of incredible grassroots Asian American film festivals, Asian American cultural groups, sci fi fan clubs, college organizations, and indie film fests, we played across the country and ended up getting picked up by Kino for a DVD release.

A lot has changed in fifteen years. But Asian American creators can still face tremendous difficulties getting stories about Asian American characters out into the world. But as I learned with Robot Stories and a bunch of other contemporary Asian American films like The Debut and Better Luck Tomorrow, when folks come together, we can make amazing things happen for each other.

So last night I saw the great Daniel Dae Kim retweet the great Justin Chon on Twitter:

And shortly thereafter, I saw Reappropriate say some smart things about a recent list of 100 influential Asian Americans:

And I found myself thinking about how each of us is more powerful than we realize — particularly when we work together. And that one of the easiest things in the world to do is talk up the things we love so others can find out about them.

So big, big love to everyone who’s shared something using the #AsAmCreatorRollCall tag, and big, big love to everyone who’s retweeted anything someone’s posted using that hashtag. Folks are out there doing absolutely incredible work every day. Let’s all continue sharing in 2018, building that beautiful audience for everyone, and making the world we want to live in.

Please do check out the glorious projects and creators on display at #AsAmCreatorRollCall, and feel free to check out this very nice write up from Splinter News.

Universal FanCon announces Greg Pak as a featured guest!

Big news — I’ll be a featured guest at the Universal FanCon in Baltimore, April 27-29, 2018! I’m super excited about this con — I even backed their Kickstarter a few years back! Here’s their mission statement:

Universal FanCon is the first large-scale, 24-hour, inclusive event that celebrates the diversity of fandom and the diversity of fans. With its broad range of attendees, celebs, and unique experiences – and its engaging, interactive festival atmosphere — FanCon is the place for everyone who is a part of the true fan universe.

I’ll be there all three days in Artists Alley and on various panels and whatnot!

Other guests include great colleagues and friends like Phil LaMarr, Jeffrey Vergge, Sumalee Montano, and Regine Sawyer. Oh, and Billy Dee Williams. 😉

Get your tickets today!

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