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- What does each character want and why? Motives can be small: I want to impress my girlfriend/pass this class; can be big: I want to cure cancer/win the Nobel. I think this could be the thing that helps keep the tone of this comic positive more than anything else.
- Basic personality of each, and for a short comic I'd keep this pretty broad: arrogant or timid, patient or rash, etc
- Relationship between characters: Professor and students? Professional scientist and hacker? E. coli and a pipette?
- Comic relief. It's what comics are all about, right? Who (or what) will be providing it. Could just be visual; i.e., bacteria as the 3 stooges, or you could rely on one of the characters to be "the funny one"
- How many characters? For something short, I'd limit it to 2 or 3.
- Conflict between characters will bring a level of reality to the comic and will help involve a reader more
- Location. We're in a lab, of course, but you can play with perspective. One frame can be at a bench, the next can be INSIDE DNA, the next can be in a cell. Chuck is a genius when it comes to this kind of stuff, so give him a lot to play with.
- Beginning, middle, and end. For each segment of the cartoon: Programming DNA, Signal Carriers, Genetic Devices, determine an inciting incident for the beginning and a climax for the end.
- In genetic devices, your inciting incident is one of the characters saying what he wants "I want to build an inverter" and that sets the ball rolling. Consider how an inciting incident might draw a reader in, "hook them" on your idea.
- And for the climax: Did the characters get what they wanted? What was the result of the action that was taken? Are characters happy, worried, resolved?
Still More Considerations
- Visaul realism versus abstraction?
- What gets left in the gutter between panels?
- Transitions (Scale, Perspective, Disconnected, Temporal, Other)?
- How to best make use of both dialog text and header/footer text in the panels?