Features to improve comic book workflow

Hi folks,

Scrivener is a bit awkward to use for comic book writing, relating to the way that auto numbers work. Ideally, a comic book writer needs to see the page and panel numbers in the editor, it isn’t sufficient to only see the numbers at compile times.

This is because, for craft reasons, a comic book writer needs to know at all times what page they are on in the script and what panel number they are on in the script.

Knowing the page numbers allows comic writers to plan for page turns. The only way to surprise the reader is on the top panel of an even number page, and a basic craft tool is to put a surprise twist right after the page turn. (I’ll make an appeal to authority by citing Alan Moore discussing that here http://paperkeg.com/post/8130244823/alan-moore-on-digital)

As for panel numbers, the more panels on a page, the less words and imagery you can fit into each panel. Even Antony Johnston says in the documentation on his web site that he doesn’t recommend using the panel auto count since its important to keep track of the number of panels on the page.

Comic writers can currently work around these limitations by not using the auto number feature, but this means during editing, if I cut out page three or whatever, I need to go through the script renumbering all subsequent pages. Attempts to use the auto number and compiling to remind myself where I am are awkward, especially as the scripts get longer and you need to scroll down further after each compile. Not to mention how difficult it is while revising to find the exact page in the compile output book and match it to the page in the editor if I’m revising the middle of a script.

My proposed, simple solution would be to add a feature where mouse hovering over the auto number marker would create a popup window showing what the current number is given the presently saved compile settings. This could be an optional opt in setting so as not to confuse users who do not need it.

Thanks for your consideration!

I use a modification of Johnson’s method:

Split the document window into two vertical panes. On one, go to the page I’m working on and lock the view (command-opt L). Then I create a new card for each panel. Then I go to view->corkboard options-> show card numbers. Since I’m not Alan Moore, I should be able to fit a decent description of the panel’s action in the text part of the note cards. In the other pane, I open the folder/document where I’m writing the page that I have the notecard/panel desc. in the other pane. Just make sure that the notecards are set not to be compiled if I’m just using them to get the panel count.

Usually I just have one notecard per panel and use the scrivenings view to write the script. That way if I need to rearrange panels, the script follows the notecard. To make the card titles appear in the Scrivenings, go to view -> editor -> show titles in Scrivenings.

And for script pages, just go up a level in the Binder to the Story Folder. This works like a charm, esp. if you follow Johnson’s method of adding a new notecard for each page and naming it “cont.”

This isn’t perfect and takes a bit of getting used to, but I like it and I only wish that the “dynamic” card numbering could be included in the Inspector and Scrivenings titles.

In my actual script, I can use the auto numbering for both pages and panels with no harm done, as I use the notecard numbering to keep me aware of number of pages & panels.

Hope this helps.



I took another look at how Johnston does it. He seems to do one card per page. I gather the Mac version has auto numbering of the index cards? I’m actually using windows. The windows version doesn’t (unless its buried in a menu I haven’t found). So index card auto numbering can’t be used to substitute lack of live numbers in the editor.

Also the screenplay formatting dropdown elements menu appears to not be supported on Scrivening mode on Windows, as far as I can tell…

You know, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the best solution would be for auto numbers to work differently when the comic book template is loaded. It should just use live numbers in the editor itself. A comic book writer not being able to see the page and panel numbers is like a prose writer not being able to see paragraph indents.

Maybe it could be a 3.0 feature…

You’re right that numbered index cards haven’t made it into the Windows version yet (that’s a 2.0 feature).

Unfortunately, live auto-numbering is a lot more complicated in Scrivener than it is in a regular word processing or scriptwriting package. In such programs, the entire document is before you, and there is nothing in the document that is not part of the script. So if you add another number field or delete one, the program can safely cycle through the fields and update the numbers accordingly. Not so in Scrivener, where the script is scattered across different documents (on disk as well as conceptually), and in which there is no guarantee that any particular auto-number is going to be part of the final script until Compile time. Compiling the script in the background every time a number is added or deleted is not an ideal solution, either.

Which isn’t to disregard the request, which I understand, and I can see the problem, but rather just to explain why this is not a simple request with an easy solution.

All the best,