As said before, to have a strong Comic Company, you need a; or a few, strong comics. And the foundation of a strong comic are strong characters. Both leading and background characters. Don't just focus on a great hero, and have a so-so villain. And the same goes the opposite way, don't focus on a great villain and have a so-so hero. You need to take your time on all aspects of every character and try to make them as good as you can.
First, what is a strong character? What makes him strong besides the fact that he can lift a lot of weight and not just talk the talk in your comics. A strong character includes details and an intricate webbing of history to his life. That is unless he is not your normal hero. (use this kind of character sparingly) Enough talk, let's dive in to making a strong character.
Start your character as a normal person, or as a hero. This means, don't start making the hero as you also make the alias. Take May Parker for example, if you were to create her, you wouldn't start by saying. May Parker is athletic and also has an egotistical competition with the Daredevil. You don't always need a name right away either. First start making one of the sides of you character. (Note that some characters will have one side, you won't use an alias. They will be known to the public like the Fantastic Four.)
After you have a good bit of one side of your character, written down of course, begin the other side, and start to match them up. Begin molding each side to fit in to the other so that the character makes since and is interesting at the same time.
There are a few ways of doing this. To show you, I'm going to start creating a character. While I do this, you should either start creating your character or start modifying one you already have. Mine doesn't have a name yet, but we'll call him Henry just for the sake of you understanding who I'm talking about. I'll start with Henry's personal life. He is pretty popular in school, and he gets good grades. He also usually hangs out with all the pretty girls but he makes sure to never show off. (Now since he sounds like perfect already, you're going to have to find some way to let the reader relate with the character.) Most readers will not be your average Henry, and this can be a problem because the reader won't feel the same feelings that the character is feeling.
We have a pretty good basis for a character, we have to start developing a good superhero that matches him now. (If Henry is a superhero, he may be a villain or so on) We don't need a name for Henry's superhero yet either, so we'll call his hero alias Henrydude. Henrydude is very quick and strong, (Explaining his ability to be good at athletics) and he is also pretty smart and quick, as in figuring out problems. (Now explaining for his good grades) Henry is now a character, but he needs a personality.
Figuring out his personality will set alot of things. For example, he likes to joke a lot and hangs out with friends, he'll most likely have a lot of slang in his vocabulary. He will also wear regular clothes like jeans and t-shirts. But if he is rich and hangs out with his butler, then he'll probably have a proper vocabulary and will be a bit of a snob. Let's start designing out character's personality! Also note that this is where we make up for his being so perfect earlier and we let him have a personality that readers can relate with.
Henry is going to be a teenager whose parents are divorced. He lives in the ghetto part of town with his mom and they aren't to well off as far as money goes. (A lot of readers have divorced parents or aren't to rich) This gives him a personality of, "Hey, I know how it feels to not get everything I want, and I also know how it feels to pray every night that we get supper the next day." His personality so far also gives his vocabulary slang but mostly proper grammar because of his good grades and outlook towards others.
You can go on and on with this character; however, right now I won't because of your limited time that you can look at the computer monitor without hurting your eyes. (Just as in example though, you can go on from here with why he is a superhero, maybe sadness from his parents separation etc.) And for his superhero personality, stay pretty close to the personality of your character so not to confuse readers, but change some things the superhero does.
For example, Peter Parker isn't to quick to make witty comments when Spider-Man on the other hand is full of them. This is because he does not have the confidence as Peter Parker to make them. Apply techniques like this to your character too. But remember to be original!
We have a good personality and vocabulary etc. of a character now. We have so much more than you think already though. We also have posture, (Henry for example slouches because he doesn't feel like he's good enough to stand straight since he is kind of poor) and we have what kind of friends our hero hangs out with. His friends effects if he is into stuff, like drugs, or drawing etc. and the list goes on!
If at any point in developing your character, you don't know what kind of a person does what. (Like you don't know how drunks act etc.) Then you need to watch people who are close to your character or what you want your character to be like. Pay attention to grammar, posture, clothing and other details. Also remember while doing this to always write down your ideas, even if you don't think you'll keep them. One idea will lead to another till you perfect your characters. You can always erase old ones and put in better.
It just takes time to create great characters, but in the end it is worth it. Make sure you take the same amount of time for your background characters as you do for you lead characters too. That's all for creating strong characters. Check back here later for the next article, Entertaining Storylines.
- Joseph Lookabaugh