Ready for another tip?
Most of us got into comics because of superheroes. My progression was from cartoons to movies to comics. That may be the progression for a lot of you, too. Once we got into either the Marvel or DC universes, we noticed how robust those universes were. Then we wanted to replicate those universes when we created our own.
The problem with imitation is that we often don’t understand what it is that’s being done beneath the surface. We think we can just slap any kind of generic hero in any type of generic problem, throw a few punches, and then come up with a solution that will satisfy readers.
That thinking is wrong.
For the most part, when we’re creating these imitation comics, we’re forgetting the first rule of a shared universe:
There’s more than one hero or villain.
You can make your world seem much bigger than it is by not only creating more heroes and villains, but by also mentioning them.
That’s right. All it takes is a mention.
Well, let’s clean that up a bit. A single mention probably wouldn’t do it. A few mentions of different characters probably would. And not just teammates, either. People outside of the team.
An example seems in order.
Larynx-Boy is on the Body Perfect team, with Breasticles, Mindscape, Reflex, and Brawn. They’re fighting The Wrongdoers: Rightwing, Leftwing, Bowled-Over, Headshot, and The Ass. It’s a four issue limited series, as the Wrongdoers try to take over the town of Pastycakes and thus, claim dominion over bakeries all over the world. (It’s an example. (Sweet) Roll with it.)
If you want to make the world seem bigger than it is, then you have to make mention of characters and events outside of the immediate storyline.
Larynx-Boy loves to talk. It drives his opponents crazy. So he could be prattling on about how he met The Beasties and really had a thing for Lupe, and that could segue into the time when he teamed up with Width and Breadth to repel the Flatliners of the 2nd Dimension.
See what I did? I took a four issue series with two teams fighting each other, and I mentioned two other teams and another threat, which implies that the world is bigger than what’s going on in the series itself.
This gives your world the scope it didn’t have previously in the mind of your reader, without having to do anything else. You just mentioned some names and an adventure.