Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Changes and the Art of Collaboration


            This is where we started building steam and picking up the pace. This page is also probably the best example of collaboration. While all of the text and all of the plot beats on this page were scripted, Matt really treated the individual panel descriptions as suggestions and frequently a went different way. This is very tricky. Writers have to give artists freedom to make changes. The vast majority of the time it will be an improvement, especially once you realize it will never look like what you imagine in your head. It is collaborative, you have to trust them and give them leeway. The only reason to get your back up is if the intent of the scene is changed or if it changes the overall story in some way. On the flip side, artists can't get carried away with that freedom. Writers put things there for a reason. It advances the plot, develops the characters, or sometimes it even sets up something else to be used much later on. Most of the time the artistic eye will improve things but realize the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. It's very easy to loose sight of the big picture when you are focused on a single panel. Be judicious and make sure the point of the scene in the overall context is not being lost. Both writer and artist will be walking a thin line.

            So as I said, this page is a great example doing it right. Matt made a lot of changes but every line and every plot beat is there. Panel 1 was originally scripted as being a high angle looking down - I was thinking that we would descend with Dick into the sewers. I thought it would create a feeling of foreboding. Matt, however, chose to alter the angle which I think adds a nice bit of mystery. I think mine would have worked, but his definitely did work. I also had Dick "undercover" pretending to be a city worker dressed in work-coveralls but Matt decided to put Dick the classic trench coat, which is good since it puts forth an immediate iconic detective image. Sometimes (but only sometimes) imagery will trump logic. Logically, Dick should have been "undercover" or at least not dressed in is everyday clothes as I had scripted, but Matt made the right call by giving him an iconic trench coat look, especially this early in the tale.

            Matt added an extra panel (the bit with the rat was unscripted and a great touch) and he reversed the angle on the final panel. Initially I had the alien eyes glowing in the dark to the side of where Dick was not shining the flashlight. The aliens were scripted as looking "traditionally like the big head, green body EXCEPT it's eyes are yellow cat like eyes and it has sharp teeth." This change had more to do with Matt deciding to go a slightly different way with the alien design which you will see better next page. He decided to keep the big black eyes that are associated with the Roswell style aliens so they would not have shown up in the dark. Either way the beat still works: The reader knows they are there but Dick does not... yet.

            Note Matt's colors get even more vibrant - almost "Dick Tracy" like and I hide the first seed that would point to the climax later on.

            Overall this is where things start to move, I felt I was able to hit more set up while at the same time building tension. Again hitting a good cliffhanger at the end.  Speaking of cliffhangers, it's one thing to hit one or two plot turns and end with a cliffhanger in 22 pages, but when you have to pace a cliffhanger every page, it really accelerates the overall pace because you have to push the character to the "what next" point very quickly. The down side is that you don't have much room for comedy or nice quiet character bits.

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