Behind the Scenes: Parallel's Comic Process
Getting Ready for Comic Issue III
Parallel’s Comic Issue 3 is scheduled to drop at the beginning of September, and we know the community is gearing up for more action. We’re now at the halfway point of our first arc, The Priming, and we thought it would be a good idea to dive deeper into how the comic falls into the hands (or wallets) of our readers. We sat down with our lead writer, Greg Lastra, for an in-depth look at the process behind ideation, writing, and delivering this epic visual tale. His experience sheds light on why he is the best person to lead our lore and comic team in developing the Parallel story which we have today.
As we interviewed Greg, there was no help but noticing the viral Pepe Silvia-style whiteboard of ideas sitting behind him; a realistic view at what is going on in most of our staff’s heads here at Parallel.
Let’s dive in.
What does the process look like for producing an upcoming comic issue?
Before we explain how a future comic issue is developed, we should mention that an outline of our Arc; the 6 issues that make up the series, The Priming, had to be laid out. Doing so involved numerous meetings and tons of hours of brainstorming to specify what important events would occur to help develop our story. Greg mentions, "If we have an idea of which event will really drive the narrative for this 6 part series, each issue’s plot would help build up to that."
When we develop the story for the current comic issue, we usually start with the ending. “Knowing where you’re going at the end is a huge advantage,” Lastra explains. This is because he likes to work backwards from the place where Parallel will tease the story of the next issue. This usually means ending with a lead into the faction that will be in the upcoming comic. From there, we identify which characters will help make this story come to life. We draw from the existing Parallel TCG cards for character support, or even create new ones, when needed, to expand the universe.
The Story Pitch and Writing Team
Greg stresses that the comic building process is a group-effort, and that the story gets developed by a writing “super team.” Here there are people from different backgrounds and areas of Parallel: Product, Strategy, Engineering, Game Design, and Growth, alongside the Producer and Editor from Raid Comics, who helps make sure that things translate properly to the page.
The super team brainstorms ideas after Greg defines what the story should open on, and what events should occur in the upcoming issue. Depending on the central Parallel of the current story, the team will lean on different themes to help develop the narrative. There is a lot of help from the game here, which draws more conclusions on how the factions differ from one another. Each Parallel has different motives, needs, wants, and aspirations.
“The Marcolians, for example, feel like they have a rightful claim to the Earth, whereas the Kathari are looking to solve a problem occurring on Sepulii. The Earthen, at this given time, just want to co-exist and piece together their current situation on Earth,” Greg explains.
From The Beat Board to The Script
After all the notes from the team are put together, the “GPS of the story” is assembled on something called a Beat Board. Greg puts the outline and character descriptions on the board to review with the team once again. Then the pages and panels are laid out. Once everyone is happy, he takes a hand at the script.
In writing the script, Greg offers a few points of advice, including starting at the last page to keep the comic in a good length and page count, and the foundational: “show don’t tell.”
“I’m a big believer in show, don’t tell. Which is beautiful about comics because it is visual storytelling.”
The rough draft is reviewed, edited, and improved, and then it’s time for RAID to apply inks and colours.
The Art Process
Firstly, Greg works with Raid to go over a visual guide for the artists. The guide features page-by-page art references from the Parallel world; including cards, 3D assets, and avatars to help spark inspiration. Although the panels include action lines and a concise focus on what’s physically happening in the frame, we ensure the artists still have creative freedom in their designs.
Once all the colours are completed and the team is happy with the finished product, the many teams in Parallel get the digital comic on the web for users to purchase, view, and share with their friends!
The world of Parallel can become so big so quickly. How are you and the team pacing yourselves and ensuring that the story is where it should go?
Fans of Parallel dig the lore, and we understand why. The story behind what makes this company live has infinite possibilities and potential. That’s why we take universe-building so seriously.
“Knowing that the world can get so big, the team is ensuring that we don’t rush this. We need to focus and keep it digestible.”
This is why pacing ourselves has become so important. For example, bigger characters and Paragons need the introduction they deserve. Greg mentions that the Parallel team keeps everything outlined to keep on course. This doesn’t mean that everything is set in stone, however. New card art comes out everyday, which helps spark new creative ideas. But everything from the art, to the product, to the story, is bounced between team members to make sure everyone is going in the same direction.
Are comics still just as popular as they used to be? How has the industry changed?
Greg reassured us that Comic Book Guy is still very much alive and well. In fact, he attended SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) a week prior, and affirmed that the target market still meets the iconic Simpsons character to a T.
But that doesn’t mean that comics are only for one type of person. There are visual stories for any genre that one is interested in, and he encouraged people to explore the style and story that works for them.
As Greg showed us his collection of different comics, he explained, "As someone starting out, maybe grabbing a single comic at the shop would work, but after collecting for a while, economically, grabbing collected editions, or buying digitally are other avenues you could take.
The comic industry is still thriving. There is a comic for everybody, multiple genres and multiple forms, and multiple avenues of preference. What’s more so changed is the structure or way of experiencing and consuming them.”
What is Parallel doing to adapt and stand out?
As with anything we develop, the Parallel team pushes ourselves to be the best we can be. We take our story seriously, and how a user experiences that story is equally as important. From our opening experience, to our comic-reader, everything has been thought through to ensure our readers get the look and feel of reading a physical book. This is also because we are keeping future printing in mind.
On top of our in-house world-building, we are working with RAID, one of the leaders of the comic book industry. Through working with well-known names, such as Ramón K Pérez, we maintain a level of professionalism in the production of our comics.
What can we expect from the upcoming Comic Issue III?
We’ve started our Arc with Earthen and made our way into Kathari in Issue II. “Readers can now be prepared for a Marcolian-supremacy, action-filled plot, laying the foundation for conflict.” Greg shares. In this new issue you’ll see new characters from our Base Alpha Set, but also our Expansion. Some characters may be portrayed differently from what you're used to in the game or through the cards, but you can expect the same agro-style Marcolian the fan base recognizes and loves.
Comic Issue III begins Manifest on Monday, September 11th, and hits general sale in the Parallel Shop on Friday, September 15th.