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Okay… so it’s the time again for a look at the process of adapting GRRM’s A Clash of Kings. These are increasingly difficult to write without repeating myself. I’ve written many times about why the inclusion of the chapter title at the start of every chapter is important – it creates a narrative break not immediately evident. Establishing shots are also key at the start of every scene change – not just a location but a dramatic shift in color if possible – the reader needs to know they’re in a different place at a glance. But again, I’ve written about all this before, so my commentary might run leaner here. It’s inevitable.
I wish the people were grittier. Rougher. The art in this book is beautiful, but it’s so clean. Where are these people washing their hair and faces? In the freezing cold water? I guess maybe? They also are perfectly groomed…
This is a tricky thing because, see, we need these characters to remain recognizable from issue to issue. We’re shooting for an accurate translation of the prose to comics here, not a more liberal retelling like the TV show. So that means a lot of traditional comics tricks are off limits. We can’t build in much in the way of new text allowing for name drops as an example. We have to trust the reader to come to the table with some semblance of understanding. If space was limitless, I would start every chapter with a little “Previously…” and a quick “who’s who” with headshots.
This is one of those pages I got specific on our layout needs. Show the whole mountain but break it up with panels that show the characters moving through them. There’s a name for this that a cartoonist I admire named Ben Towle once spoke of. But my memory is poor at the moment. Suffice to say it’s an important tool in the comics tool chest. It allows the magnitude of the splash and the scope of the scene while still preserving the fundamentals of the sequential narrative. My only regret is I should have directed the scene to have more color variations through the three panels to help convey the passage of time.
Silhouettes are our friend when framing a panel to help direct the focus of the art. Panel 4 is a great example of this allowing the reader to understand that the men are preparing their attack while giving focus where it needs to be.
Even though this book is overwhelmed with text and space is limited, I try to keep the prose out of the action sequences when possible. Prose slows down the processing time on the art and makes the book feel heavy.
I love a borderless punch out bit like panel 4 here. Everything drops for a moment but these two people, highlighting the significance of the meeting.
This book requires a lot of cut away scenes. Stories within stories. I sometimes wish each of these could be presented in a radically different art style than the main book. We pulled that off with some Peter Kuper-inspired panels during Bran’s Raven nightmare sequence many issues back. This one works to – though less dramatically. Mel Rubi does some great composition. The quick break in colors on this page help signify the break away, as well as the full bleed to the edge of the page.
I like ending these scenes – especially the chapter breaks – on a bog, wide open full bleed panel.
Chapter break. But you know that because there’s a big name right across the top. Look, it’s right there. It’s like hitting a wall when you turn the page. It takes you out of the story for a moment. That’s actually the intent.
Panel 3: Lettering placement can have a big impact on the pacing and dramatic effect. Placing these two captions at the start of the panel and leaving a wide-open space after helps the time and effect of the scene. That said, we hit this problem sometimes with this book – a bit where the text is literally describing the image. I’m reminded of a bit that Will Eisner write about: A character was running up a flight of stairs yelling “Aieeee! I am running up the stairs!” The point was to let the art speak for itself. Not to have it repeat the same information. That’s what I think about when I cut GRRM’s text. What do we not need. But sometimes the bits we don’t need are attached to the bits we do need, like weird word barnacles. This panel is like that.
Not much to say in this bit… but look at that beautiful panel. You can tell it’s the start of a scene change at a glance, and it sets the mood wonderfully. Dramatic lighting and staging can be more important than bog action.
That’s what I have to say about this issue. Follow me on Twitter – @landryqwalker. Or you can email me at email@example.com