This week we get to look behind the writing process of Landry Walker as he guides us through George R R Martin’s A Clash of Kings #11, out now from Dynamite.
[+++ NOTE: Potential spoilers! Buy and read the book, then return here for the commentary! +++]
We start this issue off with a nightmare sequence. We specifically wanted all such sequences to feel disjointed and out of sync with the rest of the book. You need to know it’s a nightmare at a glance. Luckily, GRRM wrote this sequence describing wolves with child faces. So…
One of the tricks we use to eschew standard comic page formatting. Drop the traditional panel borders and drop all sense of structure. The chaos of the page helps give a feeling of discomfort.
We jump in abruptly here. I would have liked a couple of panels to establish Theon’s awakening and disorientation. But space is always a premium on this book.
Note the panels at the end of the page – we exit on an exterior shot. Close-up of the windows. Theon is trapped – let’s imply it whenever possible.
One tiny blip of dialog, yet a lot of real estate given to captions. A key when reading these books is that they are not meant to be transformative of the source material. While it would be easier to make alterations that served the medium, the job is to preserve as much of the content as possible without rewriting it. So we have to do something I wouldn’t normally choose for a visual medium, and that’s rely heavily on narration.
Like many scenes in this series, we have a lot of “talking heads”. If you’re writing an original comic, I would urge you to avoid such scenes. But this is a novel adaptation, and so we have to make it work. It all comes down to the performance of the characters, and often we have to infer what exactly that might be from the overall context of the work. We have to make sure the characters’ body language and facial expressions carry the energy of the scene.
End on a long shot – helps the reader know we’re jumping into a scene change.
Same as end of page 6 – but note the different time of day. So we use these necessary scenes to convey information: Time has passed.
A different nightmare. Stylized characters, odd angles – Mel Rubi, our artist, really did some beautiful work here.
Some tricky panel structure in this one. We need to have these big moments, but this is still a four-panel page. Note Danerys sitting outside the panel in the middle. Makes her the focus and gives the rest of the sequence on the page a bit of a “montage” feel. Again, it helps add to the sense of time passing.
This isn’t exactly important, but I really enjoyed framing the sequence for the merchant here. He has no idea he’s in the middle of a crazy political struggle, and he really just wants to sell a brass plate. In a world full of thieves and murderers, this guy just wants to sell a plate.
It’s a joke, but it’s important that your unimportant characters have personality. It adds to the strength of your story.
Every now and again I have to add a tiny bit of dialog. So in this instance I added Daenerys’ “AAAAAHHH”. I really try not to – this is George’s world, not mine. And as small as this is, I have to wonder how GRRM would have done it. It was similar when I was working with Dean Koontz on a book – I wrote an entire GN of his character, Odd Thomas. I had to write as Dean more than as myself. Set ego aside. That’s the job.
You think about everything we have to cut for space in this book, and then wonder why we choose to keep the shopkeeper at all? The interaction shows us who Daenerys is. Little interactions build character sometimes more than overt ones.
I do wish we had the space to break his dialogue up into two balloons, though – but that’s often the case. We definitely strain the limits with our lettering.
That’s all the notable things I can point to for the production of this issue. As always, this book is a massive collaboration of many talented people. I just work with my editor Anne Groell and push the words into certain places – it’s everyone else that makes them look pretty.