There's one thing that novels, movies, television shows, epic poems, and comic books all have in common: they're all a means of telling a story. As you surely know, many novels are made into movies. Some movies are even made into novels.
And comic books — particularly graphic novels — also make great movies because they're a visual means of storytelling. This is essential to consider when coming up with your comic book ideas.
But how do you come up with a great idea for a comic book? Keep reading to find out!
- The foundation of a comic book.
- Things to consider when fleshing out your idea.
- A list of comic book idea prompts.
Creating a Strong Foundation for Your Comic Book Story
Whether you plan on making an entire comic yourself, or you have a team in mind to get the job done, it all starts with the idea.
So before you start focusing on things like drawing and comic book illustration, it's important to have the idea fleshed out. And this is best done with words at first.
Although comic books are a form of visual storytelling, it’s possible to put too much emphasis on the visuals — at least during the initial idea stage. You also need to have a story; a plot, with a beginning, middle, and end. And you also need to have a compelling main character who needs something but finds there's an obstacle in his/her way.
Without a compelling story and character, it won't matter how good the visuals are. So these factors are important to nail down first.
If you're struggling with an idea, that's okay. This article will help. But before we get to the idea prompts, we need to consider what makes a good comic book.
What Makes a Good Comic Book?
Understanding comics is easy if you keep some basic tenets in mind. Of course, it's best to be a reader of comic books. No amount of teaching can take the place of the familiarity you gain from years of reading and enjoying comic books.
But aside from reading, you can keep the following things in mind to help you craft a crowd-pleasing comic book:
- Length – For a beginner, the simpler, the better. If you've never written a comic book before, you don't want to start off attempting to create a graphic novel. Start small. In fact, you may want to start by writing a comic strip or two before moving on to an entire book. Three-panel comic strips can help you learn the mechanics of comic book writing without investing a ton of time in a twenty-page comic.
- Visuals – Focusing on the visuals over the story is a mistake. But always keep the visuals in mind when brainstorming your idea. You'll want the main character to stand out in some way — even in silhouette. And interesting landscapes/locales can make for great panels.
- Dialogue – Too much dialogue can leave little room for other things in each comic panel. Each panel has multiple jobs, so you'll want to keep dialogue concise and learn how much can fit in a speech bubble easily.
- Composition – Remember that you have to consider the “camera” angle for each panel. This means some stage direction and composition notes will help you flesh out the story beats.
With those four factors in mind, let's move on to the prompts section to get those comic book ideas flowing!
Comic Book Idea Prompts
While reading these prompts, think of a short story as a comic book and a longer story as a graphic novel. Remember, simple ideas will work better if you're just beginning.
I've divided these prompts into sections by genre. Some are longer than others, based on popularity. Use them as a jumping-off point to get your plot rolling!
Superhero Comic Prompts
Superhero comics pretty much made the industry. And even today, after so many years, it's still one of the most popular comic book genres out there. From Wonder Woman and Superman to Iron Man and Captain America, there's still a lot of fun to be had in the superhero genre.
1. Do you have a favorite mythical character/creature? There are plenty to choose from. Pick one and base your superhero on the creature's powers. How does your hero get those powers?
2. Imagine a world where children are monitored for superpowers from a young age. They're then divided into superheroes and supervillains based on their powers and personality. Your character is deemed a supervillain, but she doesn't feel evil . . .
3. Create a superhero that doesn't have traditional powers. Instead, he's good at critical thinking, giving him abilities like Sherlock Holmes on steroids. How does he use those powers?
4. After a terrible submersible accident in the Mariana Trench, a character surfaces with an interesting set of superpowers — and a story about a portal to another world.
5. When a comet passes close to Earth, people start developing powerful but temporary superpowers. Chaos ensues and your character has to use her powers for good.
6. A Jekyll and Hyde character is both a superhero and a supervillain. What does the character do to try and stop the supervillain side of himself?
7. Write about a character who learns the secret identity of a supervillain and accidentally puts her family in danger.
8. Write a comedy about a high school for kids with superpowers. The supervillain and superhero parents put their rivalries on hold while they drop their kids off at school.
9. A modern-day superhero suddenly finds himself thrown forward in time by his nemesis. The future is bleak, ruled by greed and hate. He must learn how to get back to his own time and stop the villain from creating such a future.
10. The only way for superheroes to access their powers is by causing themselves physical pain. What kind of heroes would this create?
Science Fiction Comic Prompts
The science fiction genre lends itself well to visual storytelling. From strange, distant planets and alien beings to massive spaceships and unthinkable technology, you can get really creative in this comic book genre.
11. A strange portal opens up in the middle of Central Park. Nothing comes through, but your character is tasked with seeing what's on the other side.
12. The Earth is dying, and there's not enough time to get everyone into space. But there's a new technology that could allow us to access other Earth-like planets. . .
13. Earth becomes a battleground for two warring alien species.
14. A mission to the established Mars colony becomes jeopardized by a terrorist organization.
15. The sun suddenly stops shining. Humankind must scramble to figure out what's wrong.
16. Write a story about the first person to travel back in time.
17. Write about a crew of space pirates fighting against an evil Empire.
18. Explore the implications of a new gravity weapon that has no distance limitations.
19. Death is a thing of the past after scientists learn how to download any consciousness into cyberspace.
20. Miners on an alien planet encounter a strange being that can control their minds.
Fantasy Comic Prompts
Like science fiction, there are plenty of intriguing possibilities in the fantasy comic genre. You can use existing characters such as elves, wizards, and orcs, or you can create your own fantasy creatures. These stories often comprise an adventurous journey.
21. Dragon taming is a dangerous job, made even more so when a creature like no other is born and everyone wants to tame it.
22. Incorporate humor and write a story about a character journeying through a magical forest in which the plants are snarky and the beasts deadly.
23. A group of students stumble on a magic portal to a fantasy world while on a field trip.
24. Write a story about the crazy things that happen in a magic potion store.
25. Write a detective story about a sleuth in a fantasy world.
26. Your character works as a henchman for an evil warlock. But aside from the benefits and the travel, he doesn't think it's the job for him.
27. Your character is dying in the hospital when a strange doctor offers her one last chance at life — in a fantasy world she can never come back from.
28. Evil threatens to spread across the idyllic land, and only a small group of mouse-like creatures can stop it.
29. Strange murders plague the village, and the main character finds out they're being perpetrated by demons. But who is controlling them?
30. A young wizard in training finds himself locked in a strange tower. The only way out is to brave the challenges on each floor until he reaches the top.
Horror Comic Prompts
Writing horror comics is a fun way to scratch that seemingly insatiable appetite for fright among readers. The horror that works best in comic form is the kind that features visually arresting imagery such as monsters, demons, and other fantastical beings. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman is an excellent example of a long-running and highly popular comic series.
31. A woman spends the weekend alone in a friend's cabin. At least she thinks she's alone until some strange noises begin emanating from the basement.
32. When your character visits his fiance's parents, he notices something off about them. He can't help but investigate, and the gruesome truth he learns is truly horrifying.
33. A man tries everything he can to make the ones he hates pay for what they've done. Finally, he turns to the dark arts and unleashes hell.
34. Campers are told to stay out of the cave system in the mountains. But they don't. And the creatures start picking them off one at a time.
35. When the dead come back, the survivors find out how to control them. The world turns into a war zone, and the undead are the soldiers.
36. Men are turning up dead, murdered in gruesome fashion. But they all have one thing in common: they're all suspected serial killers.
37. The child with an overactive imagination suddenly starts bringing her worst nightmares to life.
38. The vacation house by the sea seems like the perfect retreat. But when night falls and the fog rolls in, things start to get creepy.
39. A man running for office is stalked by a deranged woman, who he finally recognizes as his dead mother.
40. Your dog goes missing, but suddenly appears inside your locked house one night. Unfortunately, it's not really your dog anymore.
Other Comic Book Genre Prompts
While the genres above are generally the most popular at the time of this writing, there are other genres you can write in. Here are a couple of prompts for some other good comic book genres.
41. Action/Adventure – A hard-boiled detective must put his ghosts to bed and solve the cause that's haunted him for years.
42. Action/Adventure – An ex-soldier assassin only takes jobs to kill really, really bad guys.
43. Alternative – A writer has trouble coping with life after his characters come to life and start trying to give him advice.
44. Alternative – Write a fictional story based on the disappearance of the Roanoke colony.
45. Romance – Two young people form an unlikely romantic connection after meeting at a UFO festival.
46. Romance – Opposites attract in this enemies-to-lovers romance featuring a seemingly ruthless CEO facing off against an attorney standing up for the little guy.
47. Humor – A dare goes hilariously wrong when one young man signs up for clown college.
48. Humor – A comedian can hear people’s thoughts, and he uses this to his advantage during crowd work at comedy shows.
Whether you want to be the next Stan Lee or Art Spiegelman, these prompts can help you. Everyone starts somewhere, and learning how to write comics is a gradual process. But when you've got a finished product you're ready to put out into the world, you'll want to make sure it has the best chance of succeeding. And that takes a little bit of research!
Giving Your Comic the Tools to Succeed
Writing a comic book is a big accomplishment. But comics don't sell themselves (unless you're already a known entity). So if you want to make some money while getting your work out into the world, you'll need to know a bit about the comic book market. You probably won't be surprised to learn that Amazon sells a ton of comics every day. And if you're a self-publisher, you can sell comics and graphic novels through an Amazon KDP account.
But before you publish your comic, you'll need to make sure there's a good market for it. And to do this, you can use Publisher Rocket to:
- Choose the best keywords – Customers search by keywords and categories. This is an essential way to help your comic get in front of reader eyes.
- Check out the competition – See what comics are selling well on Amazon so you can see what the market wants.
- Find keywords for Amazon ads – Running ads is a great way to find new readers and build your fanbase. And with PR, you don't have to spend hours manually finding lists of keywords.
- Check out categories – See all the available comics categories — and see how many sales it would take to put you into the number one position in that category!
With a recent update, you can also see what percentage of a given category is dominated by traditional publishers. This can help you determine which category will give your comic book the best chance of success.Learn more about Publisher Rocket here.