[++ WARNING: Possible spoilers! Buy & read the book, then come back here to enjoy the commentary!++]
Okay, we’re jumping in at page 1 of issue 9 of volume 2. So, I’ve written a lot of these comics at this point. But, for the new readers – when I came on board for this adaptation, I considered the job – capture the look and feel of the novels in a comic form. So that’s one reason I pushed for every character POV chapter to lead with that character’s name. I also knew that without this, chapters would blur from one to another without as much of a mental break. You are meant to disconnect from a novel just a bit at the end of a chapter. That works great in prose, but in comics we flow (typically) from one page to another, unless we reach an end of issue break. Chapters aren’t typically used. But… they are in the novel, so we apply them here. And though the difference they make is small, it’s still important.
I also push for most scene changes to begin and end with an establishing shot of the location. This is another tool we can use to help bring the reader in and out of a scene, and helps the reader subconsciously accept the passage of time.
We don’t allow for a lot of full-page splash pages in this book. We simply have so little real estate. But sometimes it’s very necessary. Luckily, we have a great letterer – Tom Napolitano – guiding our eye from caption to caption through the art. The letterer is often the most overlooked part of a comic creation, but skilled lettering is key to a comic’s success and they deserve as much credit as anyone else on the creative team. On that note… I just noticed… is Tom’s name not in the credits? That’s weird. That should be fixed.
See… new establishing shot in panel 1. We should have run those borderless though. Would have given us a bit more of a comfortable start to the scene and a better break from the rest of the page. Also notice – Tyrion is always drinking in these pages. ALWAYS. Without wine to pour, he would have a lot less to do.
Guess what we have here? An establishing shot. This is where we can have a bit more use, by reusing the same shot but changing the lighting we imply the passage of time. We now know it’s been a long day for Tyrion, meeting people in his home. Close the scene with the same image and the sun has set.
Now look, if we didn’t launch Sansa’s chapter with her name in bold at the top, you wouldn’t have that “take you out of the story” moment that we want here. We need to be taken out of the story, then moved back into it with a new establishing shot.
Sansa’s flashback… we tend to run the flashbacks in monochrome. I wish we went a little rougher with the art too. But this works. You should have a pretty good sense when reading that this is a flashback.
We continue our little flashback scene. Note the jagged panel border. This also pushes that “other’ aspect of these scenes, so we know when and where this takes place within the story. It’s outside the main story and you need to KNOW that. Comics are about communication, and half that communication is silent, and the reader picks it up subconsciously.
I love the layouts of this page. Mel Rubi did a great job building the scene’s intensity.
Sansa’s nightmare sequence. This page got about halfway where I want it to be. It needs a lot more layers of blood, and they all need to be semi-transparent. The page itself should look stained with red rather than blood splattered. This ends up reading too literal.
Sometimes less is more. So, we use another precious splash page up. One simple and powerful image – the mattress in the fireplace. Then step back and let GRRM’s text do the talking. Combining images and words doesn’t always mean heavy sequential.
Oh look – an establishing shot. And it’s morning now. Time passed even though it’s just a glance from one scene to another. Force the reader to move through time at the pace you choose. The storyteller has to control the story, and a huge part of a story is the sense of time!
Closing on that long shot of the city. Now you know the scene is ending, which preps you for…
…Jon! It’s a Jon Snow chapter. The previous scene closes, the title, the intro shot. Boom! We’ve now moved in space as well as time. Note the last panel on this page – take away the text and it’s a simple headshot in the lower corner of the page. The caption should have been on the other side of the art though – not enough room. But… you really don’t want to end the page at a full stop with a character holding their back against the edge of the page where you are ready to flip to the next scene. Better to have something that pushes the reader to turn the page.
This was one I had very specific direction for, which Mel Rubi ran with and took far past anything I could have provided. A beautiful page, we use the weirwood tree to divide the dream visions into natural panels that flow but feel disjointed. Take some time and look at this one. It’s worth it.
Needed something dramatic to pull us out of that dream sequence. Notice the lack of borders and the way all the shading lines point towards the bird, adding energy and drama.
That’s it for this issue!
A Clash Of Kings (Vol 2) #9 is out now from Dynamite