There seems to be a running trend of my intentions to be regular with this process column and then falling behind. But hey, life. I’m also writing this while couch-ridden and doped up after my back acted up, so please forgive any typos. My plan was to do nothing this weekend and rest, but I feel funny not doing something. So here we are. If you haven’t a clue what it is I’m doing here, check out the other installments:
Again, keep in mind that due to WordPress formatting limitations, the script format here isn’t exactly how my actual scripts look, but there’s no hard-and-fast comics format anyway, so as long as you get your ideas across competently and clearly in a way that works for the artist, I think you’ll be okay. Here we go, Page 3:
PAGE THREE – (6 Panels)
Establishing panel of The Arctic. There are two small figures flying through the sky. The day is clear and the land is barren.
Jersey Devil, a foul looking, wife-beater wearing winged beast that encapsulates every Jersey stereotype is flying along, holding Bigfoot — who is holding onto his fedora for dear life — in his large talons as they soar across the brisk Arctic sky.
I DUNNO WHAT DA HECK YOUR BRO MOVED OUT HERE FOR! NO DAMES, NO BREW, NO NOTHIN’!
IT’S A LONG STORY.
AND FORTUNATELY, I AIN’T GOT TIME TO TELL IT…
I combined the first two panels because, well, 3.1 is pretty straight forward. And also to show off Jonathan’s great layout on this page (which carries over to 3.3 as well). The key thing to note in these first two panels is Jersey Devil’s design. Really, this is the moment where Footprints, as a concept, either works or falls apart completely. Devil is the most radical caricature in the entire story, and if this first image didn’t work, I don’t think the rest of it would’ve either. Luckily, Jonathan deviated a bit from my description, giving Devil regular arms to work with rather than my ill-conceived “talons.”
There was also some review that once pointed out an apparent misstep in logic by saying that Foot would have had plenty of time to tell any kind of story, being that they traveled from NYC to the Arctic. However, I’d argue that said story would’ve actually spawned from the conversation that Devil starts about being uncertain why Yeti moved out there, so I’m not sure the story would’ve even come up before hand. And, perhaps more importantly… does it matter? As far as I’m concerned, there are gaps in “logic” that are acceptable to a certain degree because they don’t pertain to the story whatsoever, nevermind a tale that involves such a ridiculous idea like Footprints.
The “how” of traveling between the Arctic and NYC — how long did it take, what did they talk about on the way there, etc. — doesn’t make a difference. It doesn’t pertain to the characters or their situation. It’s condensing — cutting out fluff to keep the pace brisk and the story interesting. I could write a five page scene getting them from point A to point B and bore you to death, but stories are windows into the most interesting moments of the characters’ lives. Everything else should be left on the cutting room floor.
Lastly, there was an interesting early layout to this page that featured some different angles that Jonathan reworked because he wasn’t happy with them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it. I found the e-mail from 2010, but sadly, the attachment had disappeared.
Bigfoot points downward towards a small cave dwelling in the midst of the icy mountains, still hanging onto his hat.
Again, this is pretty straight forward, but I like that Jonathan found a good angle to incorporate everything I asked of him, which admittedly sometimes was too much. We’ll get to more of that eventually.
Bigfoot and Jersey Devil stand in the entry way to the cave. It’s icy and filled with snow, but still resembles some semblance of an acceptable living space. Things are strewn about as though someone ransacked the place, looking for something. On the wall, somewhere rather inconspicuous, should be a moth painting identical to the one in Bigfoot’s office.
I FEEL IT AS SOON AS I ENTER THE PLACE.
THE SNOW’S BEEN TOSSED UP. SOMEONE’S BEEN HERE THAT AIN’T S’POSED TO BE.
YETI?! WHERE DA FRICK ARE YA, BRO?
Here comes the first connective imagery of the moth that we’ll play with a lot throughout the story, both because the moth silhouette is striking and because the Mothman legend is just plain creepy. Impressively, Jonathan made this cave habitable, my particular favorite thing being that there’s a couch, as though Yeti kicked back with mass market romance novels and relaxed. But I love this panel because its kind of a cheap trick — more is revealed in the narrative captions than anything else. Yes, the place looks like a mess, but the only reason we know something sinister is afoot is because Foot tells us so. The benefit of having a first person narration. That said, it’s not just a crutch — it also gives a sense of Foot’s knack for investigations and trusting his gut.
This is also the first instance of the recurring “Shutup, Devil!” joke that you’ll see throughout the whole book.
Bigfoot has spotted a picture frame on a shelf that hasn’t been knocked over, and is reaching for it. Jersey Devil is in the background poking at things aimlessly.
This is another simple panel, but Jonathan’s framing is phenomenal. The angle of the picture frame leads your eyes to both important elements of this shot — the picture inside the frame catching Foot’s gaze and also Devil’s snooping around, touching things he probably shouldn’t. It’s just great composition that builds some very simple tension leading into the reveal in the very next panel.
CLOSEUP of the picture in the frame. It’s Bigfoot and Yeti — who looks similar to Bigfoot but white — their arms wrapped behind each other’s backs in a typical brotherly fashion. Bigfoot seems to have his other arm around someone else as well, but the end of the photograph has been deliberately torn off.
THE PICTURE BRINGS BACK A LOTTA MEMORIES…
The first thing you’ll notice is that the picture does not, in fact, look torn in half nor does it incorporate the mysterious other figure that Foot was supposed to have his arm around. Of course, my intention was to have it be a reference to Motheresa. While I don’t recall if this was something Jonathan and I spoke about and changed at some point or if it was simply an oversight on our part (he may have missed it when drawing and clearly I missed it when approving pages), I’m glad that we did. In retrospect, I’m not sure tearing ‘Resa out of the picture is something that Yeti would have done. Bigfoot for sure, but not so much his brother. So in the end, it worked to my benefit to have it drawn this way.
I suppose this is an instance of the difficulty of planting clues early on before having the finer elements of the story — character moments and such — scripted out. For me, I knew the important beats but a lot of the finer details came about as I wrote. So really, the Foot/Yeti/Resa relationship wouldn’t be fully explored until issue #3, and so the beats that I found myself hitting weren’t entirely planned yet. My point is that you can plot/prepare all you want, but the old adage about characters writing themselves can be true; sometimes their motivations, quirks, or dichotomy with other characters only become fully apparent as you’re writing them. It’s weird, honestly, but it’s true. So if you’re writing a story that relies on a spattering of clues and subtleties, it’s worth keeping in mind that you might find yourself retracing your steps to make sure everything lines up. In this case, we got lucky.
The other thing I can say about this is it takes advantage of the page-turn — one of my favorite aspects about comics. This is Page 3, so traditionally this would be on the right side of an open comic (which is why you typically make your splash pages or start of double-page spreads on an even numbered page). If you’re reading digitally, then it doesn’t matter really as every page would essentially be a page turn, but I admittedly wasn’t thinking in those terms. So here — and this is the most elementary example of it, but it works — the idea is just to create a sort of mini cliffhanger to lead the reader from the end of the page to flipping over to the next. It seems obvious, but this can be a great tool for a writer to use to keep the reader engaged.
In this case, I just used the really simple device of carrying over a monologue caption. (The caption continues onto Page 4 to say, “…and ain’t none of good.”) It’s not even a particularly good/necessary line, in retrospect — we know how Foot felt about his brother from the page before, so we can assume that he doesn’t enjoy looking back on these memories. However, the tension comes in on the idea that the picture clearly depicts a very happy memory. So why wouldn’t Foot look back on this fondly? What could’ve happened between them? Subconsciously, hopefully, it gets the reader thinking about those things and invests them in Foot’s relationship to his brother. A relationship that Foot (and the reader) will be forced to confront once we find Yeti’s decapitated body in a few pages time.
So here’s the completed page:
Hopefully that was insightful to some degree. Please let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to cover in future installments and/or anything that might be more useful to you. These are just my opinions and experiences, so take from them what you will. Thanks for reading!