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John Byrne
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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 8:57am | IP Logged | 1  

This morning I am finishing up (I hope) a montage commission that includes a shot of Kitty Pryde being chased by the demon from X-MEN 143. I pulled out my ESSENTIAL volume for reference, and in flipping thru that story came across this fairly typical page.

Now, I am honestly not trying to start a Dump On Claremont thread here, but look at this page. It is a "classic" example of the writer ignoring the pacing of the action and filling up the available space with words, words, WORDS!

The sequence of events happening in this scene is rapid-fire. One panel follows the last with barely a heartbreak between. Look at pnls 2 and 3, for instance. Did the monster pause briefly before crashing thru the wall?

Words take time to read. Even a fast reader is going to spend more time on the words in the captions and balloons than is actually seen in the action. This is something SO many writers forget. The panels are "snapshots," and we can assume in most cases that there is time before and time after each shot. But not in ALL cases. And this is why it is important for the writer to PAY ATTENTION to what is happening. And how FAST it is happening.

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Michael Penn
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 9:40am | IP Logged | 2  

I suppose one might edit this down as...

Panel 1 -- Cripes! That thing is after me!
Panel 2 -- What is it?!
Panel 3 -- It ripped through the reinforced wall!
Panel 4 -- (Let the art speak for itself)
Panel 5 -- I can't outrun it...
Panel 6 -- ...need to time to outthink it!


Question, JB: Chris Claremont scripts Kitty as hiding under the stairs to obscure her scent and test if the creature can still detect her -- but did you merely mean for Kitty to try to hide just for a breather?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 9:51am | IP Logged | 3  

So long ago! I don't remember.
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Michael Penn
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 12:17pm | IP Logged | 4  

I can't seem to remember how long ago 1980 really was!

Pardon a tangent, but can you please offer an example of when Chris Claremont's penchant for the verbose was an unexpected improvement on your art?
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John Byrne
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 12:28pm | IP Logged | 5  

Pardon a tangent, but can you please offer an example of when Chris Claremont's penchant for the verbose was an unexpected improvement on your art?

I think immediately of the sequence in IRON FIST, in which Danny Rand tours his former brownstone home, seeing phantom memories of times past. I drew it, I knew it, but the way Chris scripted it still made me misty.

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Joe Smith
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 12:53pm | IP Logged | 6  

I have no guilt in saying I ignore words when reading the first time thru when I feel the pictures can tell me what's going on in the moment. Most of your stuff could just have sound effects and I'd get the jist. 
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Matt Hawes
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 1:55pm | IP Logged | 7  

I have to agree that most of the words in that sequence was unnecessary. The art alone gets across what is happening just fine, 
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Brian O'Neill
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 2:22pm | IP Logged | 8  

Silver and 'Bronze' Age Superman stories were also guilty of this. Sometimes, we'd get an entire page of Superman zooming off at super-speed...during the 'fraction of a second' before someone discovered Clark Kent wasn't where he should be..and coming up with some clever trick to preserve his identity, all while keeping a running commentary.
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Don Zomberg
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 2:51pm | IP Logged | 9  

There's a page from an issue of TOMB OF DRACULA where the title character bursts into  a room, surprising several people inside. He makes a typical villainous speech, consisting of three or four word balloons, and only THEN does one of the (off-panel) characters blurt out, "Dracula!"
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Lance Hill
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 3:39pm | IP Logged | 10  

This kind of thing reminds me of a gag from The Simpsons. Bart is falsely accused of stealing from the church collection plate, he runs, jumps out of the window, and makes his escape. Then a voice off screen yells "Stop him! He's heading for the window!".
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John Byrne
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 4:16pm | IP Logged | 11  

When working plot-pencils-script, writers often have a need (unconscious) to make their presence felt. Stan Lee was a master of adding nuance and layering to Kirby's plots -- to making them MORE than what Jack had given him. Unfortunately, to Stan suceeded in writing AGAINST the pictures, other writers have been not so good at it.

Remember Stan's classic caption "The wise man knoweth when to speak, and when to shuteth up"? Hard to imagine too many contemporary writers showing such restraint.

(Interesting point I noted, on the page posted: although it was meant to be a rapid-paced scene, I left room for Chris' verbiage. Perhaps that, too, was unconscious. My artistic brain did not want to see Kitty wearing speech balloons for hats!*)

------------------

* Tho she comes pretty close in that sixth panel! If Orz hadn't broken the border...!

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Eric Jansen
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Posted: 26 July 2015 at 6:37pm | IP Logged | 12  

As a "generous" reader, I will usually "translate" something like this in my mind to be "people THINK really fast!"  What takes more time--running through a house or the speed of thought?

But, yes, it really slows the reader down.  More captions might have been all right to get the info across rather than all the dialogue (monologue?), but that still would have slowed the reading down.  (Manga, to the other exteme, might have done 20 dialogue-free pages for the same type of scene.)

As a person who tries to write and draw his own comics, I would have left these panels pretty empty, save for an occasional "Yow!" or "gasp gasp"!


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