Hi guys, Dave here with a follow up to Craig’s amazing ‘concept art’ guide, which showed you how he designed our characters and finalised their look. It’s a mind blowing insight into his art process – READ IT HERE.

Quite a few of our backers have asked if I could write a companion piece about how I wrote the script, so I’m more than happy to oblige 😀

Oh, and if you want to make your own comic, I’ve written a series of guides on:

How was KIlltopia #1 written?

From my post apocalyptic road trip series Bust to my dark fantasy saga Vessels, all my books start with a beginning and end. I talked a lot in my recent Q&A livestream about how they also start around a core theme. You can watch it here for tonnes of insights into my process:

The thumbnail is all screwy, but it works, promise 😀

1) Choosing the setting

With Killtopia, I knew I wanted to do something in tribute to my favourite comic series Transmetropolitan – a futuristic saga about journalism, set in a crazy metropolis full of weird people and even stranger cultures.

So I knew it was set in the future. I started to think about the other things I was really into that I hadn’t covered before, such as my favorite action videogames from Japan, like Bayonetta, Vanquish, Resident Evil 4, Nier: Automata and more.

Bayonetta 1 & 2: two true 10/10 games in my book!

Bayonetta 1 & 2: two true 10/10 games in my book!

From there, I decided pretty quickly I wanted to set my comic in Japan, and have it be about action. Another big topic back in 2015 (and now!) is healthcare inequality. Here in Scotland, the NHS was a big topic in the media, and over in the US, Obamacare was being debated.

So I wanted to do something set in the future based around healthcare, and what happens when the poor can’t afford basic human rights like medical care. Then I started thinking about a terrible disease, which is where The Rot came from.

My first description of Killtopia in the first draft script. Not a lot has changed here, as I wrote a location guide early on to get the setting clear in my mind before writing.

My first description of Killtopia in the first draft script. Not a lot has changed here, as I wrote a location guide early on to get the setting clear in my mind before writing.

I’m also a big Breaking Bad fan, so I thought, “Hmm… maybe the lead character could be doing something dangerous or illegal in this mad future city in Japan to pay for his healthcare, or how about to keep someone in his family alive.”

And that’s how Shinji and his dying sister Omi were born.

Fun fact: Shinji Kamiya is named after my two favourite Japanese game developers – Shinji MIkami (Resident Evil 4, Shadows of the Damned, Vanquish) and Hideki Kamiya (Bayonetta, Nier: Automata)

My very, very first attempt at a Shinji bio. Notice it's not really in depth at this point. It's just quick, simple moodboard style concepts. The detail came on the second pass, then the third, fourth and so on until he felt like a fully formed person.

My very, very first attempt at a Shinji bio. Notice it’s not really in depth at this point. It’s just quick, simple moodboard style concepts. The detail came on the second pass, then the third, fourth and so on until he felt like a fully formed person.

2) Fleshing it out

I had a lead character and a challenge for him to overcome, but what was the ‘Breaking Bad’ style thing he was doing to pay for Omi’s care? For that inspiration I turned to another of my favourite Japanese games, No More Heroes, by Goichi ‘Suda51.’

If you haven't played this series, it's well worth seeking out!

If you haven’t played this series, it’s well worth seeking out!

No More Heroes is about an Otaku nerd who kills a local hitman and finds himself thrust into a league table of assassins, and starts to murder his way up to the number one spot for fame and well, to get a quick shag of the league’s boss. Yeah it’s a little crass, but the core concept is genius.

But I couldn’t exactly use that idea wholesale, but I did like the idea of these hyper, crazy personalities fighting each other to the death for money and celebrity status. That’s how the Wreckers, and Killtopia’s second anti-hero (and the best Wrecker in the world) Stiletto were born.

I literally finished the first draft of Killtopia #2 tonight, and some of the stuff Stiletto does in that book is off the charts!

I literally finished the first draft of Killtopia #2 tonight, and some of the stuff Stiletto does in that book is off the charts!

By this point I had a lot of ideas and concepts floating around my head, but big chunks of the story were missing. I needed something for these characters to do, and an end goal for them to achieve.

3) Finding purpose

From here I have to be careful to avoid spoilers, because this is where the meat of the story took shape. By this point I had the name locked down – I just took the word ‘Dystopia’ and gave it a savage edge by adding ‘Kill’ into the mix. Plus it fit my theme of giving my comics one-word names perfectly.

Part of a lore bible document I wrote to get the world setting and story arc straight in my head. It had to be punchy, exciting, not too convoluted - or otherwise I knew I had to fix parts of it. (The whole document took about a month to finish!)

Part of a lore bible document I wrote to get the world setting and story arc straight in my head. It had to be punchy, exciting, not too convoluted – or otherwise I knew I had to fix parts of it. (The whole document took about a month to finish!)

I needed to tie the concept of this nano disease, Wreckers, Shinji and Stiletto together. The obvious challenge for them was to try and find a way to cure the Rot. I then started thinking about why they’d need to do that, and what the cure was.

And that’s how Crash, the world’s first sentient Mech was born:

Crash has a lot of secrets under that metal chassis of his...

Crash has a lot of secrets under that metal chassis of his…

I thought he’d be a perfect ‘Macguffin’ for the whole series, with all these Wreckers fighting over him – sp the concept of bounties was born, and with it the idea to make ‘Killtopia’ a tangible place, namely, the city’s Sector K district.

And so the Killtopia district, with its infestation of killer robots, was conceptualised. Not only would it be a compelling place that I could do neat things with (and have our Wreckers fight to their heart’s content), it also led Shinji to become a salvage hunter.

Going full circle, I decided that hunting Mechs in Killtopia illegally and in secret, would be Shinji’s ‘Breaking Bad’ activity.

The first appearance of Shinji, from my first ever draft. Notice how a lot has changed since the final page 5 of the comic. Shinji doesn't have a helmet now, or earphones. It's all about iteration!

The first appearance of Shinji, from my first ever draft. Notice how a lot has changed since the final page 5 of the comic. Shinji doesn’t have a helmet now, or earphones. It’s all about iteration!

Next, came the actual writing:

4) Writing the 1st draft

So here’s my quick-fire way to write a script:

  • Write your base ideas down on paper – get a notebook and fill it with things you’d feel happy writing about, and that you’d like to read. This could be ideas, themes, movies or games you like – almost like a conceptual moodboard of thoughts.
  • Have a look at what you’ve got as a whole – just start thinking about ways to tie them together, like I explained in points 1-3. Start scribbling any cool ideas that come to mind.
  • Think of your setting – Start to think of where your ideas would be set, and start writing a lore bible, which is a big description of what the world is like. How does it feel? What are the people like? What time period is it? What level of tech does it have? Is it war-torn? Hostile? Peaceful? Dystopian? Write almost a tourist’s guide to your setting, and the world rules will fall into place nicely.
  • Think of your characters – Get a feel for who your main heroes are, and write a bio for them – almost like a CV. Male or female? Young or old? What’s their background? WHat’s their attitude like? What’s their skills? What’s their interests? Do they have any weaknesses? What do they wear?
  • Think of their journey – This is what I meant about having a beginning and an end. Think about what happens to that person, that makes them need to do something, in order to do/fix/solve/destroy/save something else. Fill in the blanks, and don’t worry if it doesn’t gel right away, no great story does.
  • Start your first draft – With the fundamentals in place, you can start writing. Think about the steps in the previous point, and flesh out the bits between each event that takes your heroes from your start, through your big story beats and twists, to their conclusion.
  • Oh and… – It’ll take ages, and you might hate your own work, and you might get sad or depressed (I do a lot when writing!), but please, please, please keep trying. Take a step back if it feels tough and take some time off (It’s not a race!).
  • Oh and, AND! – Get an editor – by that I mean just a friend or someone whose opinion you trust o read each version, and to give you brutally honest feedback. You need critical feedback so you can go back to your draft and improve it, not someone who just says everything is great. Trust me, you’ll end up with a SICK book if you do this (and don’t get down if the feedback is negative, use it to make your book better!)

5) Script to page comparisons

To close out this article, here’s some script to page comparisons from pages we’ve already revealed (so don’t worry about spoilers) – just to show you how much detail I gave Craig for the art, and how I formatted the script. Enjoy 😀

BRING IT IN, ASSHOLE!

 

MEETING SHINJI…

 

Wreckers!

 

 

I hope this guide has been interesting and even helpful if you’re looking to make a comic yourself 😀

Thanks again everyone and stay tuned for more updates very soon!

-Dave