Monday, December 15, 2014

PLOTTING IN THE DARK

In the previous post, we broke down an issue of Justice League 3000 and featured Keith Giffen's unique way of plotting (essentially drawing an entire mini-comic).  I thought it would be fun to see what a (somewhat) normal comic book plot looks like, so here's the first half of my plot for Justice League Dark #36.  Read it through, then look at the actual story to see how our wonderful artist, Andres Guinaldo, interpreted my plot.  You'll also get a sense of what it's like scripting from your own outline: dropping certain elements, adding others, discovering new wrinkles you didn't realize were there.  The heavy lifting is in the plotting, for sure, but scripting can be a real revelation and help you find the heart and soul of the story you thought you understood.  Enjoy!  (And let's not forget that Justice League Dark is ©copyright 2014 DC Comics.)



Justice League Dark #36:
The Amber of the Moment, Part Two:  
Long After Tomorrow
(22 pages)


Page One
Tier One:
Half pager.  A reverse angle of the last shot  in our previous issue:  “Camera” is behind Nightmare Nurse, Frankenstein, Swamp Thing and Andrew Bennett (all of them weak, weary, wasted) as they stand at the literal edge of the world:  it’s as if a giant hand came and snapped the edge of the planet away.  And beyond it?  Infinite blackness.  Asa realizes that the vortex that opened when the House of Wonders exploded (in the JLD Annual), has carried them to the very end of time.  The chunk of rock they’re standing on—let’s call it Nowhere Land (for our own reference, not for the story)—is all that’s left in all the universe.  And that chunk, Nurse senses, is being eaten away by Non-Time:  bit by bit by bit.  Soon it...and they...will be gone.

Tier Two:
Close four-shot of Nurse, Frank, Swampy and Bennett:  stunned, confused...and, yes, afraid.  How the hell did this happen? they wonder.  How did they get here?  And where are Zatanna and the others?

Long shot—as they turn away from the edge and walk across this bizarre, barren landscape.  As we said last month: “...black, blasted rock as far as the eye can see.  Not a hint of foliage anywhere.  Mountains rise, sharp and jagged, like a shattered sword.  The sky above is pitch black:  no moon, no stars, not a hint of light.  The only illumination comes from cracks and gauges in the earth, spitting up a hellish light that casts shadows—they seem to be alive, creeping and slithering with will and determination—across the world.”  Bennett notes that this world...if they can even call it a world...has a rudimentary atmosphere.  There’s (barely) breathable air here.  And it’s bitterly cold—even for an undead vampire.  Nurse senses that the atmosphere isn’t natural...that it’s been magically created.  “By who?” Frank asks.

Very close on...something hidden in the shadows, watching Nurse and the others.  We can’t see anything except for two inhuman eyes, gleaming with madness, staring out.  (This, we’ll shortly learn, is the mutated Felix Faust—as seen on our wonderfully creepy cover.)

Page Two
Tier One:
Closer on Nurse, Frank, Swampy and Bennett—as Swamp Thing suddenly weaves on his feet, staggers...

Closer still:  ...and falls.  The others whirl, concerned.

Two-shot of Swamp Thing and the Nurse—as Asa kneels beside Holland—who’s suddenly shriveling, growing thinner, his plant-flesh growing harder, crustier:  it’s as if the very life force is being drained from him.

Tier Two:
Close on Swamp Thing—even more shriveled.  His face sunken, his expression one of confusion and pain.  He looks like the plant equivalent of a cancer patient, days away from death.  “The Green,” Swampy gasps.  “I can’t feel the Green...”  And the reason for that is, on this world, there is no green.  (Well, for the most part:  there’s a twist coming later.)

Another angle—as Nurse calls up the Rod of Asclepius (see reference):  Asa holds the glowing rod in one hand while, with the other, she feeds Swampy healing magic that will keep him alive...but only for a time.

Looking up at Bennett, from Swamp Thing’s perspective—the vampire not just concerned about Holland, but about himself.  He needs blood to survive and, even though he’s fine now, the time will come when he’ll have to feed.  And what then?  There’s nothing to feed on here...except the other three.  And even if he’d consider feeding on them...they’re not alive, not human, in the conventional sense.

Page Three
Tier One:
Wider—as Frankenstein helps Swamp Thing to his feet (the Rod of Asclepius is gone now)...  

Another angle:  ...and the four of them walk on across this inhospitable landscape.

Tier Two:
Long shot of Nowhere Land hanging in the blackness of space (it’s about the size of Manhattan island):  one sliver of land in an absolutely dead cosmos.  The Heavens black as pitch, not a hint of life, of light, to be seen.  Time Itself, Nurse says (in caption), is closing in on this barren piece of rock, eating away at it.  “But to call it Time is a mistake.  It’s more...the absence of time.  Non-Time.”

Tier Three:
Back with our JLD-ers—as wings sprout from Andrew Bennett’s back (there’s a specific look for this so let’s get reference for Andres) and he tells the others that he’ll fly ahead, scout the area.  Perhaps there are other places on this god-forsaken rock that are more hospitable.  

Angle from behind the group—as Bennett flies off...and our shadowed figure (all we see here is the silhouette of Faust’s head) watches them from the foreground

Closer on Swampy, Nurse (backs still to “camera”) and Frankenstein—who whirls to face “camera,” hearing something skittering up behind them.  Frank’s expression makes it clear that, whatever he was expecting to see...it wasn’t this.  

Page Four
Full page splash.  Pull wide—as dozens of rat-sized creatures (Andres:  these creatures should look exactly like the Faust creature on our wonderfully creepy cover...but significantly smaller.  Faust himself will be along shortly) come swarming out of the shadows, skittering toward—and onto—our JLD threesome, overwhelming them: knocking them to the ground—those intestinal tentacles wrapping around Nurse, Frank and Swampy. 

                                                              Page Five
Tier One:
Angle on Frankenstein—as he uses his sword to hack away at the creatures.

Angle on Nurse—blasting some of the creatures away with a spell.

Tier Two:
Angle on Swampy—too weak to defend himself as—wrapped from head to toe in slimy tentacles...

Another behind Swamp Thing:  ...he’s dragged off...struggling vainly...across the hellish landscape, into the shadows.

Tier Three:
Angle on Nurse and Frank—as, free of the creatures, they race after Swampy.  Ahead of them we glimpse...something moving in the shadows.

Looking down at Nurse and Frank—as they, in turn, look up in amazement at the (off-panel) thing that’s emerged from the shadows.

Page Six
Tier One:
Half pager—revealing the full-sized Mutated Felix Faust (as he is on the cover) emerging from the shadows (hanging, suspended, from his web-like tentacles which are attached to an outcropping of rock):  Swamp Thing’s body is half in/half out of Mutated Faust’s body, caught in that disgusting web of intestines.  The Mini-Fausts are crawling all over their “father’s” body, scrambling back inside him.  (Yes, I know it’s disgusting.)

Tier Two:
Angle behind Nightmare Nurse as—Frankenstein yelling for her to stop—she runs toward Mutated Faust...

...and leaps into that mass of intestines...

...getting gobbled up alongside Swamp Thing.

Page Seven
Tier One:
Another angle—as an enraged Frankenstein takes a run at the monster (Faust grinning like a loon, eyes ablaze with triumph and lunacy), as...

Wider:  ...from another direction, a swarm of bats appears (it’s Bennett—who became aware that his partners were in trouble.  And let’s get reference for this transformation for Andres)...

Tier Two:
...attacking Faust (while Frank hacks away at him with his sword).   But it’s not doing any good...

...because Faust sprays a geyser of steaming poison from his mouth, directly in Frankenstein’s face:  the monster, his flesh burning, screams and falls back...

...after which Faust whirls, turning his attention to the bats, spraying more of the poison at them.  In response, the bats catch fire...

Tier Three:
...and the entire swarm falls, in flames, to the ground...

...becoming the collapsed figure of Andrew Bennett:  his body steaming, his flesh seared and scarred.

(Important to note that Faust isn’t just a monster, he’s a magician—and this mutated body is composed of magic.  Each tentacle is, in its way, a spell; that noxious spray he spews isn’t just physically painful, it’s composed of dark magic.  So he’s attacking on both a physical and metaphysical level.)

Page Eight
Tier One:
Wider—as Faust rears up over the fallen Frank and Bennett (Nurse and Swampy have, apparently been digested) ready to move in for the kill.  But...

Closer on Faust.  ...he stops suddenly, his expression changing to one of confusion...

Closer still.  ...and then absolute horror.

Tier Two:
Pull wide—as the Faust-thing explodes (having been blasted from within by one of Asa’s spells):  guts and gore spattering in all directions...Nightmare Nurse, holding Swamp Thing, expelled from the creature, tumbling directly toward “camera.” (Did I mention that this was disgusting?)

Page Nine
Tier One:
Angle on the four gore-covered, aching and weary, JLD-ers slowly getting to their feet.  But before they do...

...they begin gasping for breath.  Not just for breath:  they’re suddenly overcome with the sense that their very beings are being drained, bled out.  It’s hard to concentrate.   It’s as if their minds are dissolving into stardust and soon they’ll be swept away, into the infinite darkness beyond.  The atmosphere, they realize, is starting to collapse.  Their protection against the ravenous Non-Time will be gone in a few minutes and they’ll be devoured.

Closer—as Nurse turns to see Felix Faust’s head, severed from his worm-thing body, looking up at her:  weak, desperate, he informs the Nurse that he’s the one who created this protective bubble in the first place.  She has to help him, re-form him, or it’s the end for all of them. 

Tier Two:
On Nurse—as she hesitates, wondering if she could possibly trust this...whatever the hell it is.  But the truth is they’re going to be dead in a minute:  their choices are limited.  And so...

Wider:  ...with her last remaining strength, her last remaining magic, she unleashes wave after wave of healing light... 

Wider still:  ...restoring Faust, who lays, sprawled, across the ground, muttering incantations.  And, as he chants, the atmosphere is restored.  They all feel themselves being restored...for the moment, at least.  (Asa’s light also heals Frankenstein and Bennett’s burns.)

Page Ten
Nine panels.  Three tiers of three.  All of them CLOSE-UPS of Felix Faust.  In all of them Faust is looking directly at “camera.”

Tier One:
1)  Faust begins to calmly tell his tale, but...

2)  ...as he does...

3)  ...an expression of terrible fear contorts his face.

Tier Two:
4)  Fear slowly becomes sorrow...

5)  ...and the Faust-thing weeps...

6) ...tears (composed of that poisonous substance he spat at Frank and Bennett) streaming, and steaming, down his face.  He wails—giving voice to thousands of years of torment.

Tier Three:
7) The tears stop and Faust’s expression becomes one of agonized loneliness.  For a moment...

8)  ...sanity seems to return to those lunatic eyes.  And then...

9)  ...Faust hangs his head, gazing at the ground.  No longer looking “at camera.”

(And here we learn what’s happened to Felix Faust.   How his hunger for magical power, for eternal life, led him to eventually uncover a forbidden, and long-forgotten, magic that could corrupt God Himself:  Living on for age after age, Faust used the forbidden enchantments to evolve, mutate, in order to survive the harsh changes to the Earth—and, yes, that’s where we are:  Nowhere Land is the Earth, or what’s left of it, at the End of Time.  Humankind, we learn, long ago left the planet, moved off into the stars—but Faust remained, happy to be the Lord and Master of all that remained (what remained wasn’t much—but he was batshit crazy by this point).  Eventually consumed by a cosmic loneliness that drove him even farther over the edge, Faust then began to create these miniature versions of himself...out of his own flesh and consciousness...in order to have some semblance of companionship.  Time crawled on and on and, eventually, Death came to the universe.  All the life-forms on all the worlds were swept away as Time Itself died...and Non-Time began to consume all life.  Faust has struggled to keep this small remaining piece of Earth alive...but he knows that eventually all his struggles will be in vain.  Nowhere Land will be consumed, drowned in the Ocean of Non-Time.)

And, off that, we cut to:

Page Eleven
Tier One:
Panel one is a smaller panel INSET in the HALF-PAGE panel two.

1)  Inset.  The Beginning of Time.  Night.  Exterior shot—of the house we saw last issue:  Zatara’s house—which has been magically restored since its destruction by the Mome-Rath.  Weird lights flashing from within.  Then we’re...

2)  Half pager.  ...inside—where we find Zatanna in the living room, standing in the center of a magical star-shaped spell (see reference) that floats in the center of the room.  Zee, we learn via her first-person narration, has spent the equivalent of a year here (although time flows very differently at The Beginning), first lost in a kind of mad loneliness (that parallels Faust’s), then, finally, finding her center again, her purpose.  She’s determined to find a way out, a way home.

Tier Two:
3)  Closer—as the Star grows brighter and brighter and then...

4)  Another angle:  ...dissolves:  Zee gently wafting to the floor.  Sparks of light—like fireflies—swirling around her.

5)  On Zee—kneeling on the floor—an expression of concern on her face. 

(As she’s been probing the ethers, probing the deeps of Time Itself, Zatanna has become aware of some kind of as-yet-undefined disruption in the Timestream.  A kind of chronal aneurysm that may be about to burst.  Now, she realizes, this isn’t just about saving herself...this may very well be about saving everyone and everything.)  (I’m not sure how much of this I’ll give away here...it may be too soon.  In which case, I’ll hint at this without hitting it on the nose.) 

***


Hope you found that enlightening.  And if you'd like to know what a full script—art and dialogue, all of a piece—looks like, just click here.

46 comments:

  1. Do you think New York in the Marvel Universe has Supervillain insurance? Because, if you are at a major area of the city and get injured or loose.have damaged property due to a supervillain, isn't it kind of on you. It's like going for a jog in a hurricane.


    Jack

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    1. I'd think that some kind of hero/villain insurance would be mandatory for folks living in Marvel Manhattan. And I'd also think that the FF and the Avengers would have all kinds of insurance to protect themselves and would be constantly being sued.

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    2. The FF have been sued since the days of Lee and Kirby. Which makes you wonder if Matt Murdock was the driving force behind Hell's kitchen's gentrification. I think Stark can just throw money at the Avengers problems though. Its the Defenders that must have trouble. What legal president is there for an inter-dimensional being turning a city block into goats? Or being possessed by a demon to assassinate a 10 year old boy who would bring about world peace and threaten Hell?


      Jack

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    3. I wonder who Doctor Strange's lawyer is?

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    4. For that matter, isn't A Christmas Carol a little self-defeating? The point is that you should aid humanity because you are a part of it, that a man must help others and allow them into his heart. That is all well and good. However, the thing that makes Scrooge change his ways is seeing that no one mourns him. That is arguably just as selfish of a reason to stop as he had already been.

      Jack

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    5. I'm not going to debate Dickens or a tale I think is one of the greatest stories ever written. That said, I don't see it as selfish. He realized that he lived a life where he contributed nothing, left nothing of value behind, touched no one. It's not just that no one was there to mourn him. It ran much deeper than that. Scrooge was a good man whose heart had turned cold because of life's blows. This was the blow that melted his heart. And even that was the culmination of his whole Christmas journey with the spirits: the ENTIRE NIGHT is what changed him, not just that moment.

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    6. Hulk. That would always scare opposing council. "HULK SAY SETTLE OUT OF COURT!" Legal degrees are overrated.


      There was actually an Astro City Busiek wrote about the very issue of superheroes and how they interact with the courtroom.

      Jack

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    7. I'm not criticizing Dickens or even the story itself. Muppets couldn't even make it better. Honest to God Muppets The fact that it took me years and years after first encountering of it to see this oddity, the fact that it is overlooked by almost everyone, that it still stands strong is a testament not only to the story, and the writer, but the message. Yes, Scrooge had completely changed.

      It is important to remember that we are talking about Victorian England , Whats more a wealthy man in Victorian England. Social stature wasn't just important to him, but probably viewed as an accurate view of him. It is just a bit odd to our modern views. It is also important to remember this, like much of Dickens work was serialized in the paper, which means space had to be a consideration. Most likely this idea was to give the idea that he thought himself at least moderately good, but was not. However, there were only so many words that could be used, especially since the goal was to get it done by Christmas eve.

      What's more I think that this was noticed by others, in the Movie Scrooge they added a part were Frank Cross's do-gooder girlfriend has changed and hardened her heart, essentially killing what he loved about her. This drives hoe the idea that he never thought of himself as bad... much like Ebeneezer. You see what people get wrong is that it wasn't Scrooge responding in kind or being too hurt and lashing out, it was a belief that this is what needed to be done not only to prosper, but just to survive in the world. That is the idea that is being defeated. That misreading is probably caused by a lack of remembering history.

      Think of my comment less as attacking a timeless classic, and more of when you look back at Spider-man and realize that him becoming a cop could have made up for uncle Ben and been more productive and that Superman could have ended the Nazi threat easily, or that Frodo could have just rode the Eagles straight to Mordor. Lack of perfection doesn't make something bad, it often (like this) makes it more enjoyable hen you an see the power of it.

      JAck

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    8. Good enough, Jack. And I hope it's not too early to wish you the happiest of holidays!

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  2. Not sure about Marvel, but insurance companies in the DCU won't cover "acts of Zod." :-)

    --David

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  3. And that's just the plot?!? No dialogue?!? It is fascinating and exhausting at the same time. I will never underestimate a comic book writer again...not that I ever did. Also, I think I may just stick to reading them. Writing them looks tiring. Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that, sir.

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    1. Right back at you, Douglas! Here's to a magical holiday season and a wonderful 2015!

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  4. Jack, as far as A CHRISTMAS CAROL goes, I'd argue that redemption meets everyone where they are. But then, I've never found his reaction that selfish. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be loved, after all, and nothing to indicate he doesn't genuinely care about others.

    --David

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  5. Thanks for your insights, David...and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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    1. Well no, wanting to be loved is not selfish. The fact is that wanting anything isn't REALLY selfish, its the means that you go through to achieve your means.

      That being said, I didn't say he wanted top be loved, rather that he wanted to be mourned. The two don't necessarily go hand in hand. My point is actually just that doing something for such reasons isn't really altruistic. There is still an ulterior motive. . Yes people are still being helped,. but as that motive is satisfied there becomes less of a need to do it. Of course that is not what I believe Dickens was getting at, as I explained.

      The fact is people perpetually get the meaning of the Christmas Carol wrong.


      Continued for space purposes....

      Jack

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    2. People always invert the point of the story. The reason for this is because they look at it with modern eyes, specifically modern American eyes.

      The point of the story is not that one should do good, but rather that they shouldn't do bad. Not that they should be warm, but rather that they shouldn't be cold. In reality they are very different and come from very different world views.

      Part of what the story is about is a rejection of social Darwinism, as many of Dickens books were. London in the 19th century had many problems, including parents selling their children into slavery. It is no secret that Dickens wrote about these things and with contempt for these parts of humanity. However, Dickens didn't believe people by in large were bad. It was life and circumstances that made people that way.. This idea keeps returning.

      The image of the grave is not pointing out the lack of positive, but rather the existence of a negative. Scrooge merely didn't realize how far he had fallen.. That is why if affected him so. It is about how he lost track of himself.

      Ya gotta understand history, man.

      Jack

      P'S' don't tell me what kid of holiday to have Dematteis.

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    3. Have whatever kind of holiday you'd like, Jack. But I still hope it's a happy one.

      For the record: I've read pretty deeply about Dickens and his times. I'm no professor, but I understand the history. Speaking of which...

      If you ever get a chance, check out the 2005 BBC adaptation of BLEAK HOUSE (it's on Netflix). Brilliant. I can't recommend it highly enough.

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    4. huh, I put apostrophes instead of periods. That's embarrassing.


      So as someone who understands Dickens History, (mine is more overarching of the time, Dickens works, and a few biographical specials) am I right?

      Interesting side point, I once saw a discussion about how the 19th century may explain the difference in views on horror writing in the U.S. and England. Because the Industrial Revolution caused so many horrors in the city the collective psyche of England may view that as where they struggled with loosing their humanity. This is why Horror stories in England are more likely to occur in urban centers. in America however, our existential crisis comes from settling the west, so we view are fears as manifesting in suburban and country settings. Interesting theory to say the least.

      Jack

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    5. Well, that's an interesting theory, Jack. I've never heard that before.

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    6. I wish I could say it was mine.
      Moving on, well... back are my views on Dickens in the realm of reality or just coming out of my ass?

      Also, I went back in time on this site, because I was pretty sure we had this "happy holidays discussion before, Here, scroll to the bottom:


      http://www.jmdematteis.com/2013/12/santas-back.html#comment-form



      Jack

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    7. HAH! And round and round we go. But here's the real question:

      What did you think of the Justice League Dark plot?

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    8. I didn't read it. I had a question first, is it an issue out or one in the wings? I don't want to ruin what will happen. I suppose I could just go look through my comics to find out.... but that's a whole thing.

      Jack

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    9. Eh, it was pretty good. I liked the finished product more. I do wonder why you say tier instead of panel though.

      Your turn.

      jack

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    10. Tier doesn't refer to a panel, Jack. The tiers indicate the panel placement on the page. (Tier one might have three panels, tier two, stacked beneath that, might have two, etc.) Beneath each tier, you'll see the descriptions of the individual panels.

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    11. And I hope I didn't sound as though I'm being dismissive of historical context. I actually really enjoy reading those kinds of criticisms...I just tend to approach the works differently.

      For me personally, the most important takeaway from A CHRISTMAS CAROL is that Scrooge, like the world around him, suddenly erupts with JOY.

      Scrooge isn't a particularly thoughtful man, which is why his self-reflection can only be prompted by external forces who spell everything out for him. That's why even his acts of charity are SPONTANEOUS. They are not acts of the mind or of the will but a heart that's overflowing with gratitude for the gift of being alive.

      Scrooge is a man who's suddenly discovered the universe is a song and wants the entire world to dance along with him--and indeed they have!

      --David

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    12. I enjoy reading plots like this, as it's essentially the best of both worlds. It's not like Stan Lee's 'go crazy with the fight scene for five pages!' approach, but it gives the artist more freedom than full script while retaining a clear direction. Though I still prefer writing in full script, as I find the dialogue often tends to lead the action for me. I often find the quip or one-liner and then the action to accompany it. But maybe I'll try a plot like this one day--it's always good to be versatile!

      --David

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    13. Both approaches are great fun, David, and I enjoy plot-first and full script equally, for different reasons. For me, the real fun of plot-first is having the artwork in front of you while you dialogue. It allows you to react to the artist's work in a unique, and powerful, way.

      Delete
  6. And a very merry Christmas to you as well, JMD!

    --David

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  7. The tier thing confused me as well so thanks for that explanation. I think I'm sticking to my zine and mini comics for the time being. My condolences on Trinity of Sin being cancelled. I'm really digging that book.

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    1. Thanks, Douglas. I've known about the cancellation for a while, but something about it being announced makes it all-the-more real.

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    2. JM,

      Let me add my condolences. I don't think the book was given a fair chance. Rick

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    3. Thanks, Rick. It's an unforgiving market right now and books really aren't given a chance. But that's the pop culture landscape in general. TV shows are quickly cancelled, as well.

      That said, I'm very happy with the remaining issues of the series—I honestly think the book gets better every month—and I hope the current readers will stick around to see how the arc ends.

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  8. I know I'm getting all of them. Not real happy about the two month hiatus for the unwieldy CONVERGENCE coming up.

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  9. Rick here.

    Since you asked everyone, I thought you might like to know what I thought of JLD 36.

    It was very good. Solid plotting, logical flow, nice dialog. I also liked that running theme of yours in which no one is beyond salvation; Faust's small story buried in the little one. Furthermore, your fight scenes had a purpose. That's not always the case in comics. I did, however, think the fight scenes at the end were a little confusing--it was hard to figure out and follow the sequencing (who was the werewolf? Bennett? Couldn't the two Fausts have looked a little distinctive?). In addition, I could not "suspend disbelief" during the "lack of air" sequences. Swamp Thing is a plant; he survives on CO2, not oxygen. If there were no plants for eons, he might as well have shriveled on the spot. Vamp's don't need air; Bennett's dead. And, with all it's been through, I'm not sure why Asa's host body wouldn't have been protected by Asa for the lack of O2. Frank'stein would logically have been the most affected due to his massive frame.

    While I thought that issue 36 was very good, I thought issue 35 was excellent. It involved a rarely seen comic subject of familial love which was touchingly brought to life. Maybe it's my age, but I really like it a whole lot.

    And, I also paid attention to your posted material. I have actually started writing a comic script, in fits and starts, and I now know how Harvey Peckar must have felt when he started American Splendor. I don't know if there are terms for it, but using sequential panels to balance actual "chronological time" with "activity time" while conceptualizing the whole page's layout is tough.

    Happy New Year.

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    1. Writing comics ain't easy, Rick—but it sure is fun and rewarding.

      Re: JLD #36. Maybe it wasn't clear, but Swamp Thing was dying, not because he was suffocating, but because he had lost contact with the Green. And when the others fell, it was because the collapsing atmosphere was letting in the Non-Time...and that's what was killing them.

      Re: #35. I really enjoyed doing some backstory on Zatanna, exploring her relationship with her father. I think she's a wonderful character, with lots of still-untapped potential.

      I really loved AMERICAN SPLENDOR, by the way. Pekar had a unique way of telling a visual story that totally suited his small, deeply personal tales.

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    2. JM,

      The problem wasn't your story, it was my lack of clear commentary. I understood he was dying because he had lost contact with the Green. My observation was simply that without enough green stuff, there was nothing for him to breathe. So, even the one rose wouldn't rejuvenate him--he needed a good ol' fashioned swamp or forest. Nonetheless, I am enjoying the story arc, and look forward to the next issue.

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    3. The idea, as expressed by Swamp Thing, was that the single rose was like a hologram: one piece contained the whole. The entirety of the Green was in that single flower. It requires a leap, certainly, but so does a moss-covered swamp-monster! : )

      All that said, glad you're enjoying the book. It's been a fantastic gig. I've totally enjoyed it.

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  10. I don't know much about CONVERGENCE, but, from what I do know, I think it's going to be a fun event.

    And thanks for hanging in there with ToS!

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  11. Since you're interested in developing a backstory for Zatanna, I should mention that Zatara and the Phantom Stranger know each other (from the Madam Xanadu series). PS is also very friendly with her (Zatanna issue 2). Perhaps he would make an interesting godfather (and, besides, PS is now out of work). Rick

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    1. That's a nice connection. Don't know if it applies to the New 52 but, since I'm the writer, I can make it so!

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    2. Wasn't her series merged with the other Vertigo stories by Pandora?

      About Zatanna issue 2, its in the series where, at the end, PS brings in some groceries. Really. He must have made a heck of a grocery store customer.

      And since I'm on a roll, the godfather angle would give PS another reason to dislike Constantine. A "fling" and no ring? Rick

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    3. I just had a great idea for a new mini-series: "The Phantom Stranger Goes Grocery Shopping!" Then he meets some demons in the frozen food section and...

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    4. ...he stops them from shop-lifting the devil's food cake?

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