Monthly Archives: December 2009

Script writing

CeltxPeople are often interested in the practical information about putting a comic together, so I’m going to mention today the software I use.

All the Róisín Dubh scripts have been written using the free, open source software known as Celtx. Writing a comic book requires a lot of formatting, but unlike writing for film there is no standardised system.

I was familiar with the format for screenplays before I tackled RD, and for them I used the Final Draft program. Initially, I found the change in formatting for comic books strange and difficult. Some people might write the script as a story first, and then add the formatting to avoid the hassle. I like to build the layout of the pages as I write, and for me that means establishing a strong sense of the page, panel, balloon and character cues from the beginning.

Celtx might not suit everyone because its format is heavily influenced by the system used in film scripts. This works well for me because I’m used to that set-up, but equally I think it’s a clear way to indicate the layout of the comic book to the artist.

Most importantly, if I change around the pages and panels they are renumbered and reordered automatically, and that function alone makes Celtx indispensable to me.

In general, this means the formatting doesn’t get in the way when I’m writing, and allows me to concentrate on the storytelling. I have some minor gripes with the program, but I’ve figured out ways around them.

You can also use the software to write for a range of other media such as film, plays, radio plays, and even to storyboard. Plus, it’s free and updated regularly.

It’s a very useful tool.



Stephen and I have been having a great discussion on email about ideas for the cover of the graphic novel. Since the story kicks off at 1899 I thought it would be great if we could have a nod towards the marvellous fin de siècle movement, and in particular Art Nouveau.

I sent him images from artists like Aubrey Beardsley and Alphonse Mucha, and he replied with work by Arthur Rackham and Irish artist Harry Clarke.

Ligeia by Harry Clarke

I was delighted to be reminded of Harry Clarke’s fantastic artwork, in particular his illustrations of Edgar Allan Poe‘s stories in the collection Tales of Mystery and Imagination.

The pieces were familiar, and stirred a faded childhood memory of me reading a copy of the book and loving the artwork. I’m pretty sure it was at the guest house my family used to stay in during our annual holiday. Being Ireland, the weather was often inclement, and there was a small library of musty books for when a storm kept us from the beach or the playground. I would curl up by a window seat, the rain hammering against the big window with the Atlantic roaring in the distance, and read Grimm’s fairy tales and Poe’s horror stories.

My abiding interest in weird and scary fiction was firmly established by these experiences, and even then I valued the way the artist could illuminate a passage from a story and give it an extra dimension within my imagination.

Clarke is a artist whose work still seems utterly modern, despite a century of changes. I’ve been fortunate to see some of his stained glass work, and they are outstanding. He is one of Ireland’s great artists.