Friday, November 24, 2023

Behind the Scenes

It almost sounds a bit strange for me to actually say it out loud but for the past year, I've been making comics.
Certainly not on a professional level but at the same time, I take it seriously and get a lot of joy out of finishing a script.
Recently I've found that as I get close to the end of a story, my writing becomes a lot more intense; it's almost like the final 100 meters of a marathon.

Marcelo was on a long vacation shortly after we completed "A Big Fan" and prior to that, I had written three additional scripts that I was hoping he would be eager to work on them upon return.
I was very happy when in March he returned and let me know that he had read two of them, loved both of them but really wanted to do "The Partner" first, something that I was in agreement with.

He also had a great idea that made the comic better. One thing I love about the collaborative process between Marcelo & I is that whenever he has a suggestion for a change, it always takes what I had put down and takes it to the next level. Originally page 11-the splash page where we got to color and see Robin in costume for the first time-was going to have the panels of Robin gathering the unconscious bad guys, tying them up and leaving with Batman.

It would have lacked the emotional impact that the finished comic has. When it goes to color and you see Robin in color like that, it's a really great page and I'm so glad Marcelo made that suggestion. When I saw what he had in mind via the preliminary sketches he sent before starting work on the final art, I knew he was firing on all cylinders.

But that's actually not my favorite page of the comic; that honor goes to page 7 of the comic (Just to be clear, when I say page 7, I'm not counting the cover that we did). In fact...I'd go so far as to say that's one of my favorite comic pages ever.

I haven't compiled a list of my favorite comic pages but some examples of mine would be Spider-Man lifting the fallen masonry from off his body in The Amazing Spider-Man #33, drawn gorgeously by Steve Ditko.

I would love to have this as a poster...

Tim Drake's debut as Robin with an iconic two-page splash by the late, great Norm Breyfogle is also one of my favorite pages. 

But for page 7 of "The Partner", I didn't notice it at first but Marcelo was doing some kind of next level storytelling that slipped by me at first but then I saw it and couldn't believe how genius it was.

First, let's look at the script for that page
Now let's look at the preliminary sketch Marcelo sent me in late March.

And now the final page with lettering by Carl Shinyama
First, Carl's slight tweaking of Batman's internal monologue was great, makes everything flow a lot better. You can tell Carl's an editor who isn't just a glorified spellchecker. Also, Marcelo added Robin's shadowed silhouette instead of just a set of eyes as that made his presence much more known to the reader.

But the real genius of this page-and what makes it a favorite of mine-is what Marcelo did with the panels. Go back and look at the page and the four panels. Did you notice anything?

With each panel, as Robin silently takes down this gang, one-by-one, the perspective is constantly moving forward closer to the main gangster, while at the same time, the panels are getting smaller. It's symbolizing Robin, taking down this gang one member at time and closing in on the final bad guy.

When it finally hit me I asked Marcelo, "Is that intentional!?"
It was and it was brilliant.
I always knew that Marcelo was talented as an artist but this was pretty much when I stopped thinking of him as just an artist and more of a storyteller.

And I'm glad that my stories are being drawn by such an amazing storyteller, that I've got someone like Carl doing the lettering, making the slightest tweaks that make everything so much better. We're hard at work on our next story which is due in late December. I've been pretty good about not showing anything however...I think I can give a small preview.

Coming December 29th...

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