Well that was real mature...

Well that was real mature...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Go Big or Go Home: Away We Go...:



            I can't remember what all I suggested to Matt. All I remember was his reaction. "Dick Ruby, we have to start with that." I asked why (admittedly, it was the one that grabbed me the most, but I was interested to see why he liked the idea). He paused, looked up and said the full title out loud slowly. "It's. Just. Sounds. Sooooooo. (long pause) Pulpy." I realized, I had him with the title. It was a good start, and my partner was clearly excited. Maybe this would work if I didn't screw it up.
            I knew two things when I started. First, I wanted to begin at the end and have Dick tell the story so I could have a first person narrative. It would echo a style of storytelling that is frequently associated with the noir genre. Second, I wanted a "saga cell" for the series. It seems that lots of pulp novels either left the main figure rather mysterious or they hit you with everything at once instead of portioning out the backstory. (Fans of James Bond will notice the rather fun send up of the villain backstory with Dr. Evil in one of Mike Myers "Austin Powers" films). I figured I would do it in a compact-all-at-once-way.  I went broad and over the top with the dramatics (to stay true to the form) and I think it worked well. I got in all the bits I wanted to establish in a pretty clean way. I wanted to establish that Dick is smart - college educated - not a generic working class "deez, dem and doz" New York stereotype. He needed to be physical (an athlete), and hardened by life (combat veteran who has had to adapt to a different life path). Since it was a weekly comic, I needed a hook that would bring back readers a week later, each page had to have some kind of cliffhanger element. I went real big on that. I figure once you see the title you are either in or out at that point, so I figured I should stay true to the genre and go over the top. (How do you know it's over the top? If you can't help but do the musical effect of "bum-bum-bum" in your head.) 
            Little touches: In the original script I had the education sequence scripted as a photo from Dick's graduation, Matt decided to go with an image of the diploma. It was an interesting choice and broke up the page some. I chose the date January 4th because it's my wife's birthday. The name Dick Ruby was a play on the popular "Richard Diamond, Private Eye" radio and tv character (I even slid a little joke in there). I stressed over the vernacular, frequently wondering how much was too much. Again I figured go big or go home. I work in "Flat Foot" and "Dame." I really stressed over the use of  the word "Japs." Common for the era, but today it's hardly a term that would be used today. Ultimately, I went with it since I figured he would have a bitter streak on that front and might even be something I could use in a future story to develop the character further. When I wrote this I was thinking vertical layout, it wasn't until Matt started drawing that he decided to go horizontal, interestingly enough it still worked. Note that Dick is a left handed batter, I thought it was interesting that Matt made him a lefty (more on that later).

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