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The dark and raunchy SATELLITE SAM turns up the heat with retailers by offering a scandalous new incentive comic stores won’t be able to resist. Retailers who order ten or more copies of SATELLITE SAM #8 will be able to indulge in the SATELLITE SAM TIJUANA BIBLE—free! 
In the spirit of Great Depression-era Tijuana Bibles, SATELLITE SAM indulges in the explicit and the definitively adults only content in the format of those classic and illegal bootleg comics—at the same time the cast of SATELLITE SAM #8 receive it themselves. When asked to comment on the TIJUANA BIBLE, Chaykin said evasively: “Actually, as I recall this was Matt’s idea—I just got innocently sucked into a maelstrom of filth.” Fraction however, had a different take: “I have long-dreamed of producing a piece of filth with Howard Victor Chaykin, my number-one international pornographer of choice,” he began. “That we had a place in Satellite Sam where a classic Tijuana Bible could appear in both story and the real world as a special (‘special’) thank you to retailers and readers that are on this dark little journey with us was the cherry on top.” “A perfect combination of (sort of) youthful integrity and (young) elder opportunism,” quipped Chaykin. SATELLITE SAM #8, featuring the TIJUANA BIBLE as a story point, arrives in stores on 5/7, and will be available for $3.50. It can be pre-ordered with Diamond Code FEB140626. Retailers who order 10 or more copies of SATELLITE SAM #8 will receive 10 copies of the SATELLITE SAM TIJUANA BIBLE for free. SATELLITE SAM #7 (Diamond Code JAN140613) is available now to order.  SATELLITE SAM, VOL. 1 (ISBN 978-1607068525) is available in stores and to order with Diamond Code NOV130453.
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it’s even being cut to the proper dimensions of one, too. ho ho, comics.

The dark and raunchy SATELLITE SAM turns up the heat with retailers by offering a scandalous new incentive comic stores won’t be able to resist. Retailers who order ten or more copies of SATELLITE SAM #8 will be able to indulge in the SATELLITE SAM TIJUANA BIBLE—free! 

In the spirit of Great Depression-era Tijuana Bibles, SATELLITE SAM indulges in the explicit and the definitively adults only content in the format of those classic and illegal bootleg comics—at the same time the cast of SATELLITE SAM #8 receive it themselves.
 
When asked to comment on the TIJUANA BIBLE, Chaykin said evasively: “Actually, as I recall this was Matt’s idea—I just got innocently sucked into a maelstrom of filth.”
 
Fraction however, had a different take: “I have long-dreamed of producing a piece of filth with Howard Victor Chaykin, my number-one international pornographer of choice,” he began. “That we had a place in Satellite Sam where a classic Tijuana Bible could appear in both story and the real world as a special (‘special’) thank you to retailers and readers that are on this dark little journey with us was the cherry on top.”
 
“A perfect combination of (sort of) youthful integrity and (young) elder opportunism,” quipped Chaykin.
 
SATELLITE SAM #8, featuring the TIJUANA BIBLE as a story point, arrives in stores on 5/7, and will be available for $3.50. It can be pre-ordered with Diamond Code FEB140626. Retailers who order 10 or more copies of SATELLITE SAM #8 will receive 10 copies of the SATELLITE SAM TIJUANA BIBLE for free.
 
SATELLITE SAM #7 (Diamond Code JAN140613) is available now to order. 
 
SATELLITE SAM, VOL. 1 (ISBN 978-1607068525) is available in stores and to order with Diamond Code NOV130453.

it’s even being cut to the proper dimensions of one, too. ho ho, comics.

hawkguy 20 preview

today i color-coded all of HAWKGUY 20 by chronological order so annie and matt could navigate what all happens when why and how easier. then, for kicks, i put it all in chrono-color order, too, at the end, so they could read it linearly, too. this is a screenshot of what that madness looks like.

hawkguy 20 makes hawkguy 6 look like hawkeye 3. you feel me.

Just realized you can draw a straight line from http://mattfraction.com/post/76515275793/cover-version-daredevil-230-and-cutting-techniques to here

hawkguy 20 preview

today i color-coded all of HAWKGUY 20 by chronological order so annie and matt could navigate what all happens when why and how easier. then, for kicks, i put it all in chrono-color order, too, at the end, so they could read it linearly, too. this is a screenshot of what that madness looks like.

hawkguy 20 makes hawkguy 6 look like hawkeye 3. you feel me.

Just realized you can draw a straight line from http://mattfraction.com/post/76515275793/cover-version-daredevil-230-and-cutting-techniques to here
DEAD LETTERS. Sebela, Visions, BOOM!, drops APRIL 2nd.
First issues are tough. good first issues are murder, are rare, are wonderful, and should be shouted about from the rooftops.
DEAD LETTERS #1 is a GREAT first issue. And the hook on its first page is only surpassed by the hook on its last page.
BOOM! might just have the next PREACHER on its hands.

Even better, they have the first DEAD LETTERS on their hands. So to get it in YOURS, call your store, tell ‘em to get it for you. FOC is today.

DEAD LETTERS. Sebela, Visions, BOOM!, drops APRIL 2nd.

First issues are tough. good first issues are murder, are rare, are wonderful, and should be shouted about from the rooftops.

DEAD LETTERS #1 is a GREAT first issue. And the hook on its first page is only surpassed by the hook on its last page.

BOOM! might just have the next PREACHER on its hands.

Even better, they have the first DEAD LETTERS on their hands. So to get it in YOURS, call your store, tell ‘em to get it for you. FOC is today.

COVER VERSION: BATMAN #405, pages 19 & 20

Another exercise, because my hands are slow to warm up tonight. Take a finished page or two and write a script backwards out of that.

I chose two pages from BATMAN 405, which was the second part of Miller and Mazzucchelli’s BATMAN: YEAR ONE.

I chose these because the actual script pages were reprinted in the BATMAN: YEAR ONE collection that was issued in 2005 (along with new digital coloring which is, for my money, as good as new digital coloring over formerly-analogue colors have ever looked, anywhere, by anyone, ever. Richmond Lewis, everybody.) and figured it’d be fun to compare and contrast.

Another rule: I’d not let any panel description go longer than the Twitter-shape of 164 characters. Dialogue wouldn’t count — there’s another school of thought/lesson/screed about that for another time — or panel numbering. Panel descriptions all had to be less than a tweet in length.

Storywise: Jim Gordon and his partner Sarah Essen have just come from questioning Harvey Dent as to whether or not he might be dressing up like a bat and beating up poor people. Batman, turns out, was hiding under Dent’s desk. As Gordon and Essen drive away, a delivery truck nearly hits them, running through a red light, clearly out of control.

Here’s the original pages:

image

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Here’s the original script (click to make legible):

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Here’s mine.

405.18.1
Across the top Batman, silhouetted by the glowing-blue predawn, spins as he hears something wrong, even all the way up here, crouched among antenna and water tanks.

NO DIALOGUE


405.18.2
inside his car, GORDON clutches the wheel between two fists. the cigarette falls out of his mouth as a delivery truck blasts past —

CAP (GORDON) Maybe it’s pills —

CAP (GORDON) — maybe it’s a heart attack —


405.18.3
inside that delivery truck, the DRIVER clutches the wheel in agony, trying to hold on against the incipient heart attack, rigid, pushing himself back.

CAP (GORDON) — maybe it’s both but that doesn’t matter —

CAP (GORDON) — he’s out of control — his foot must be pressed to the accelerator —


405.18.4
GORDON swerves alongside the careening TRUCK, headlights shining in wet asphalt. A BAG LADY drags her shopping cart across the street and into its path…

CAP (GORDON) — oh, no — that old woman —

CAP (GORDON) — can’t let this happen —

CAR SFX skreeeeeee

CAP (GORDON) — come on you heap move —


405.18.5
Above, BATMAN jumps, cape exploding outward —

NO DIALOGUE


405.18.6
— as below, GORDON yells to ESSEN as he starts to PHYSICALLY EXIT HIS VEHICLE —

ESSEN LIEUTENANT —

GORDON Take the WHEEL.


405.19.1
The BAG LADY stares dumbly into the headlights, catching a flash of chicken wire somewhere past her.

NO DIALOGUE


405.19.2
As ESSEN grabs the wheel while sliding over, GORDON leaps from his CAR onto the side of the TRUCK — the vehicles racing RIGHT AT US —

CAP (GORDON) — damn — no time —

CAP (GORDON) — no time —


405.19.3
— while BATMAN, above them, grabs onto a streetlight, knees bent like an Olympic gymnast —

NO DIALOGUE

405.19.4
— as GORDON reaches in through the passenger side window, desperately grabbing for the wheel. The DRIVER gritting his teeth, unable to help —

CAP (GORDON) — can’t reach —

CAP (GORDON) — no time —

CAP (GORDON) — it’s over I’ve blown it —


405.19.5
The TRUCK smashes into the SHOPPING CART. BATMAN tackles the HOMELESS WOMAN out of its way. GORDON, clinging to the passenger door, tries for the steering wheel —

NO DIALOGUE

What did we learn, Charlie Brown?

Well, Miller’s still calling shots here more often than not. The longer and longer I’ve written comics the less and less interested in that control I become; besides, if you write your shit the right way the variations of interpretation any artist worth a good goddamn will come at you with will all be what you wanted or better anyway…

There are no significant coloring notes at all nor environmental ones — the rain it would appear was entirely Mazzucchelli, the time of night and everything else Lewis, smartly working backwards from the following issue.

The SFX getting overlapped by the van wasn’t in the script either; when viewed alongside Mazzucchelli’s autobiographical strips included in the volume (worth the price of admission), this kind of intelligent application of superficially silly comic shit, and their seamless integration into this mundane world, seems the kind of thing he grappled with across the entire process (and still maybe has doubts about). It’s weird that Miller’s still using them — it seems to me very antiquated from such a modern writer — but that’s my own bias speaking and Miller’s sfx work has always been a lot of fun. budda budda budda.

I didn’t get that the cart’s wheel was broken until reading Miller’s script; that’s me, though, not paying close enough attention. You don’t need it either way, really, to still get, very viscerally, what’s happening.

I fucked another thing up, too, with the time: i explicitly say the light is pre-dawn, but it’s not… because dawn comes at the end of the next issue, at the end of a sequence that THIS scene kicks off, one domino into the next. 

All of the edits cut between the unique players of the scene, only bringing them together at the end. None of these physical elements overlap until Gordon reaches into the window — the second to last panel before all the four main characters in the sequence collide. Or almost collide.

We even have to intuit that Batman watches above THIS scene and not another, although, remembering he started off in Dent’s office like Gordon and Essen, it’s hardly a stretch.

If at the end of 20 Batman’d leapt down onto crooks somewhere else that has nothing to do with the scene with Gordon, the edits would have still worked; no “rules” would’ve been broken. In fact the effect could’ve been interesting — provided there was a story reason. Think of the raid on the empty house at the end of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, for example.

There is no physical foreshadowing between the agents on 19 — we don’t see the driver in panel 2, Gordon in 3, or either in 4 — just their vehicles — as we cut between actors and elements. 

Cutting follows pretty traditional axis-oriented edits and angles. There’s nothing here a human couldn’t replicate.

Look at that last panel as written: lots of stuff happening all at once. I’d suggest even too much of a plurality at play, here, that Miller overwrote what could be drawn — truck hits the cart AND a dumpster, knocking both over AND Gordon off the truck already and rolling… Mazzucchelli’s simplification of the final panel against the direction as written made not only for a clearer visual but a strong page-flip — page 20 of the issue opens with Gordon hitting the street, then a black panel, then he comes to, confused — as are we. It’s all smart editing. I’d assume that’s on Mazzucchelli but it could’ve just as easily been original editor Denny O’Neil.

Am begining to think my love and adherence to replicating a pre-digital en-dash (not easy in the age of markup and digital lettering) comes from Frank Miller comics.

There’s something about the shape and structure of page 20 that I love — and i’ve used it a ton in my work. I suspect it’s being drawn to the 4:4 tempo a simple 8-grid creates visually. Mazzucchelli uses it a lot, Pope does, too. Lapham’s STRAY BULLETS… i could go on and on. I love the 8-grid. I dunno that i fell in love with it because of Mazzucchelli’s work necessarily but I love that it’s all over his pages.

I want to take another pass and see if i can tighten it up even further as an exercise, strip away absolutely everything but the fewest possible words. Turn it into a, like, Amy Hempel riff. But that’d take more time than I want to give it and i’ve already faked my hands into typing two pages worth of script and have more to go AND an hour to run yet tonight.

comics!

cover version: daredevil 230 and cutting techniques

life is feeling particularly unmanageable and i am feeling particularly powerless tonight so i thought if i could trick my brain into thinking about comics for a little while maybe i could get to sleep.

i’ve talked before about reverse-engineering comics, or doing cover versions, as being a big part of how i started to teach myself how to write comics. sometimes people look at me as though i’ve just opened my mouth and a torrent of fish and gold coins spilled out so I never know if it makes any sense. you basically sit with a finished comic and a blank page in front of you and you try to work out how they made it. You’ve got the finished result sitting by your side so it’s not hard — and if you change up the nature of what you’re looking for and how you go looking for it you can learn stuff sometimes.

i did one tonight of DAREDEVIL #230 by Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli, Richmond Lewis, and Joe Rosen. It’s part… four? of a storyline called “Born Again.” it’s one of my favorites.

image

I’m particularly enamored of cutting right now — how a comic goes from scene to scene on a page or across any given number of pages. Traditionally pages are considered something like stanzas and kept whole; scene changes come on page-flips. However in the mid to late eighties as art comics, experimental comics, and what we’ve come to think of as alternative comics came to the fore and smart people started to stop thinking of comics as being just Kids Stuff, art/experimental/alternative choices, styles, and techniques bubbled up into the superhero mainstream.

(i guess that’s all sort of received wisdom and i’ve never just grabbed a random bunch of comics from the seventies and eighties and clocked where the cuts come. some other depressed and sleepless night, maybe)

Miller’s work, which at its most baroque during this phase could be almost Faulknerian in its narrative shifts, tells “Born Again” across multiple plotlines and times. There are two different first person narrators and a close-third omniscient narrator.   there is literally one instance of a nondiagetic narrative insertion in the issue of three total across the whole storyline. And the cuts come anywhere and everywhere — at some points across four different locations/times/storylines on a single page.

what i really wanted to do was pick his sense of cutting apart a little bit, just to get a feel for how they did it. i wanted to pay attention to that tonight.

so i took my little notebook, two pens, and a copy of the issue (reprinted, actually, as part of a trade in 1987. that means it was one of Marvel’s first and, as a result, the pagination — meaning what pages were planned to be on the left and what pages were planned to be on the right are fucked up here, which i only know because an overfamiliarity with the actual issues already. interesting to note that in the IDW artist’s edition, the pages are hand-numbered with what their actual number would be, meaning they knew where the ads would be placed… or maybe Ralph macchio, the editor, added that? I’ll ask him…)

Anyway so I opened to the first page, did a little thumbnail drawing of the panels there, and noted what timeline/plotline/etc was happening where. I hashed in some of ‘em when they got really cooking. that looks like this:

image


So one of my favorite sequences starts on page 11. Ben Urich, a reporter and friend of Daredevil, listens to the murder of a source who confessed to being bribed by the Kingpin to bear false witness against Daredevil (who, you of course all know, was actually introduced in Miller’s very FIRST issue of DAREDEVIL as writer and artist. DUH, i know, 101 shit, but here we are).

We start on 11, on the final tier of the page, in the third location/plotline of the page. Ben, on deadline, writes in the chaos of the Daily Bugle office when his phone rings. Ben answers —

image

Picking up on page 12, we cut back and forth across five panels (three times to Ben, twice to the source) as the source tries to tell his truth on the record. Ben, scared for his life, stalls. The locations have dramatically different lighting. Yellow mostly at the bugle, with ben boxed into the center of frame by two editors; the source, laid up in traction, black and blue. Probably not a coincidence that.

Originally there was a page flip; this destroys an effect.

So in this collection you flip to 13; now the source — and his murder — get three frames and Ben two, but in each of the ben frames we PUSH IN to him. Then on 14 ben beings to change color, from orange, to bright red. the killer taunts him and we cut away before the end of the page.

There’s a nice sequencing that happens when you look at the pages as intended, with the 3/2 ratio changing up between the flips.

And then we cut to a new story and location entirely. Rather than treat pages as stanzas, as indivisible units, Miller and co. seem to treat tiers as units — in all but one sequence of the book, any time one moves their eyes down, a sequence/timeline/plotline/location edit could occur.

That exception comes on page 17 and it’s the lead-up to the emotional climax of the issue.

My drawings are hard to interpret but on a seven panel page, we have two long flashback panels to manolis’s murder at top and bottom; Ben, long and tall, between those like a pillar, then Matt, the nun who may or may not be his mother, and his two best friends in the middle. Four discrete timelines, four discrete plot happenings, all in one page. it’s such a chaotic cut that when somebody like me sits with it making a twitchy-handed drawing of it in a tiny notebook it leaps out at you.

image

while the book follows no grid or pattern, there are certain rules seemingly at play so this violation of that rule draws attention to itself. as well it should — all of our characters in the three forward-moving plot threads here are at crises points simultaneously.

So that’s interesting. I’d picked up subconsciously that cuts could come with new tiers but not in the middle of a tier… and so when that rhythm is broken, you’re forced to slow down and think for a second about what you’re seeing and reading.

this makes cutting between four! five even six plot lines in a small, 22-page space possible. By not having to cut on a page flip, threads can be pared down to their bare minimum and moved on from. The real estate each of these scene cuts would otherwise require simply isn’t there — this issue alone would require 40 pages.

And what you’re seeing and reading is that this page also picks up on a triangle motif introduced on page two that informs multiple pages in the issue, echoing the Pietá:

image

Matt and Maggie.

image

Kingpin. the panel structure informs the triangle composition here as well as the drawings; also kingpin stands at his apotheosis in this issue. It’s all downhill from here.

imageJJJ and Ben. Again the panels inform the composition. The truth is the bearing down on ben.

image

Kingpin again. And the worm has begun to turn.

image

Matt, Foggy, and Karen. The pages where the scheme all goes shithouse.

imageBen. Foggy and Karen. Truth and believing in Matt Murdock will save the day.

image

Karen and foggy. Two triangles here. Their friendship standing upright; the weight of the world crushing them down. The answer: judaism. No, wait.

image

An outright triangle — in the must-have IDW Artist’s Edition, you can see Mazzucchelli’s notes on the page making sure the triangle is visible and encouraging white paint to be added to the base.

image

Finally, then, on 22 — matt and maggie. And once more the panel structure supports the triangle. A wide singular panel sits atop two panels, which sit atop three panels.

And these are just the SIMPLE triangles. 

Now, as a writer, i dunno that I would ever go into a script and say “Okay, now bury a triangular composition here atop the page” or whatever — and I’d bet Miller didn’t either. I have one of his scripts from this period and it’s not got any of that kind of writing in it at all — i’d be surprised if it was different here.

It goes to show, then, how much more an artist contributes to the writing than simply drawing what happens. it goes to show how lucky a writer is to find an artist as smart and simpatico as Mazzucchelli was with Miller. It goes to show how much you things you don’t see push a narrative not just forward but pushes it down deeper and creates a richer, more complex, experience.

Because even when you don’t notice — you notice.

Oh! That nondiagetic caption:

image


That little “Downtown” bit in panel one of the above image. It’s the only time that a non-narration bit of text happens in-frame in the issue. it happens twice more in the final issue but that’s it, i think.

the scene follows up a phone call we saw Kingpin make and sets up a sequence in the next issue but here, clearly, someone thought it was too incongruous with the other story lines and needed an iota of clarification. It reeks of editorial note to me but there’s nothing in the artist’s edition to indicate either way. I could ask ralph but, jesus, who’d remember one lone caption placed in a panel twenty-five years ago?

oh shit — i just found one more triangle, but you have to cheat to see it:

image

An editor i worked with said to me one time that i thought about comics more than anybody else he’d ever met. i said “don’t let it get around.”

On October 18, 1896, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst went to war—not with Spain in Cuba but with Joseph Pulitzer in New York. His opening salvo was The New York Journal’s five-cent color supplement, The American Humorist, which Hearst called “eight pages of iridescent polychromous effulgence that makes the rainbow look like a piece of lead pipe.”

The sudden explosion of color comics had been facilitated by new high-speed four-color printing presses, but “lead pipe” may have been the operative term in Hearst’s boast. The original comics were designed to stun—both their startling graphics and their rambunctious antics.

The great J. Hoberman on The Great Comics War