Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Comics Are Hard. Math is Easy

Last week I stumbled across this review of All Star Batman & Robin The Boy Wonder. It reminded me all over again of why I've been in a bit of an 'Arrrrgh Comics!' frame of mind.

But then I went to my regular flist and found people talking to each other about working on their Remixes and a light bulb went off in my head. Why not remix ASBAR for my own personal satisfaction?

Of course, I know absolutely nothing about writing comics, comic writer to artist directions, or anything like that. Zip, zlich, zero. I thought I'd just write the story as best as I could and figure out how to format the script later.

It's now later. Or late enough. Because a comic is twenty-two pages and I'm certain I've reached the point where I need to figure out panels so I can choose a good break between issues 1 & 2.

So now I'm searching for 'Comic Book Panels / Comic Book Scripts For Dummies. The Online Version'.

Truthfully, I'm not even sure how much of a remix what I'm writing really is. In the sense that while yes, I am retelling the story the same way ASBAR itself was trying to retell a particular story. But I keep finding myself wanting to include the exact same elements to see if I could hold onto those aspects and make them interesting, more in character and less porntastic; Viki Vale in a state of undress for a reason was part of the inspiration for the whole thing in the first place.

I suppose I can worry about it more once I figure out the panel situation. I want it realistic for me. I'm not sure I'm ever going to post it anywhere public. It's my attempt to answer certain questions, like can the story be retold and modernized? And could an interesting interpretation come out of Viki Vale on a date of sorts with Bruce Wayne when Dick's parents are murdered and Black Canary some months in the past beating the shite out of people.

The most fun thing about this personal project though is seeing myself thinking in images and homages and seeing little bits of Bat-lore come free floating out of my head to be included.

For me comics have always been much more the writing, direction and dialogue than the art. There was good art and bad art and art I didn't notice because it flowed so well. But the whole Frank Miller / ASBAR thing was the first time I really ever thought about drawing to order. I've slowly come to appreciate the colorists, the inkers and the lettering. But I've never really thought about the relationship between writer and artist and how close the two work together and what it means to try and bring a writer's vision to life. I've been thinking about the art somewhat abstractedly I guess.

Doing this little personal project has me thinking about 'How much lee-way does the artist have? How much do they get to contribute off the top of their head? Is it micro-management for a writer to be detailed about what they to see?' Exactly how visual does a writer actually have to be, to see their story in panels before it's even drawn? Who has the most say about how something looks? When artists get paired with writers, what happens if their styles don't match?

ASBAR again was my first real WTF about the huge jarring. There were these big, heroic-epicly drawn scenes of a 5'oclock shadow Batman bitchsmacking a little boy. It was like watching some weird, freaky, lost scene in Lawrence of Arabia where Peter O'Toole screws a goat.

It wasn't just the characterization that was off to me in that book. It was that the drawing style led me to expect one thing and then - it wasn't there.

And then there's been all this talk recently about how overtly sexy Mary Marvel is likely to be drawn and how Michael Turner has no concept of anatomy and then there's Supergirl. But I don't think I've really thought before (outside of ASBAR) of the writer's influence on the artists. It's been this weird space in my head where I was thinking about the crappy story as one thing and the crappy art as another thing and not realizing/remembering perhaps that it's not just the end result that's a combination, it's the very beginning collaboration that leads to it all.

Hopefully more experimenting will have be better able to explain myself. But right now it sums up as 'Maybe a good writer can say 'And in this fight scene she's doing a lot of grounded battling, tight arm swings, very strong-man. There's no need to show any T&A because anyone in this fight who saw her that way is already unconscious and probably hemorrhaging very badly'.

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