Question: Script stuff (from Frightened by Penguins)on May 20th, 2011
What detail of direction is given when writing Destructor? Any chance you can post an example of a script already published?
As we said earlier, I tend to have a pretty clear idea of how things should look and go, and thus the scripts are fairly detailed. That said, I am not an artist, and as far as I’m concerned I’d be stupid to try to do Matt’s job for him, so I tend to trust his instincts even if I’d originally pictured something differently. Certainly his use of color is not something I could have ever conceived of on my own; I just don’t think of color as one of the primary tools of comics storytelling, sad to say, and in his hands it’s much less of a supporting player than it would be if I could suddenly draw this stuff myself.
The funny thing about my Destructor scripts, and I don’t really know why this is, is that I vary the format considerably from story to story. The actual document is lost to the ether now I’m afraid, but if I recall correctly, the script for “Croc-Town” was just a big block of text summarizing the events of the story. “Prison Break” and a future strip were broken down by page, but not panel by panel. “Destructor and the Lady” plotted out the whole story beat by beat, but with no page or panel breaks — I left that to Matt. A pair of future stories were done in traditional, full-script format: “PAGE ONE, PANEL ONE,” that sort of thing. Comics scriptwriting, to me, is at best a means to an end, a tool used to create the finished work, not a work in itself, so you use whatever tool comes easiest to you in the moment. At worst, it’s the obstacle your ideas need to climb to get from your head and into your artists and thence to the page, so you do whatever you can to make that journey as swift and simple as possible. At times that’s meant blocking everything out, at other times it’s been close to the old Marvel Method. It changes nearly every time I sit down and start writing.
To give you an example, here’s the “script” or “plot” or “breakdown” or whatever you’d want to call it for the portion of “Destructor and the Lady” we’ve seen so far. You’ll note a few passages in brackets — those are revisions I made once Matt had started drawing the first few pages. You’ll also note that some of the best moments, like Destructor using his fist of flame to melt the ice rather than blast through it, were Matt’s invention.
Destructor and the Lady
by Sean T. Collins
Close-up on Destructor’s feet, pounding one after the other on a sea of frozen snow. He is running full tilt.
We rise to see his armored body, lightly frosted with snow, with some icicles forming here and there.
He looks over his shoulder at his pursuers. In the far distance, we see something smoldering–a crashed air pod, perhaps–with smoke rising in a plume into the sky. Nearer to us, and to Destructor, is a large mob of pursuers silhouetted against the bright arctic sun. We can’t tell who they are or what they look like from this distance, but the vague sounds that drift across the frozen plain are threatening.
Destructor turns and increases his speed.
He soon finds himself mounting a large hill of some kind. Perhaps it is the furthest reach of the distant mountain range he is running to. But as he continues to climb its precarious banks he realizes it is made entirely of ice.
Soon he looks back at his pursuers. They are gaining on him thanks to the difficulty of his climb. He’s a marked man all the way up there, but he has no choice.
He reaches the top of the ice hill. He is about to plow on by and run down the other side, hoping to put some more distance between him and his pursuers, when suddenly he stops. Something has caught his eye.
Embedded in the ice is a gleaming silver-blue shield. Its design is simple and the only marking on it is a picture—really more of a hieroglyph, almost—of an extremely simplified and stylized sword crossing an equally pictographic bone, like an X. The sword appears to have broken the bone in two.
Glancing back at his pursuers, Destructor realizes this shield may come in handy. He reaches to pull it out from the ice.
As soon as he does so, a bright blue burst of energy flashes, and the ice on which he is standing collapses, taking him and the shield with it with a crash.
[Matt, I’m starting to realize that I really love blue energy. And this is true—I do. But you might want to do a different color here just so we can avoid repeating the palette too much. But it’d be have to be something equally chilly – silver, maybe? Silver fire?]
Down he falls into darkness, down down down far below the summit of the icy hill, until he reaches some sort of membrane-like barrier seemingly made of blue flame [see above]. The barrier forms a dome-like shape. It briefly cushions his fall as he bends it inward. Then with a POP! he punctures it and falls through, another thirty feet or so to the ground. The shield, which slid into the dent he made in the barrier, falls after him and lands next to him with a CLANG.
Collecting himself and shaking off the snow and ice from himself, Destructor looks up. He is in some sort of cold, icy chamber, barely lit with cold blue torches casting eerie blue light throughout the scene. [Again, see above. I’d like the fire to be an unnatural color of some sort, though.]
At one end of the chamber, which is roofed by that blue membranous barrier and walled by the ancient hill of ice, there is the skeleton of a man in chainmail and arctic gear, sword at his side. He is wrapped in several now-tattered animal-skin blankets. Clearly he has been dead for a long, long time. Barely visible on his raiment is that same sword-and-broken-bone symbol on the shield Destructor found.
Destructor walks over to the corpse to examine it. He reaches for the sword and holds it aloft. It’s then, in a reflection on the sword’s shiny blade, that he sees he and the corpse are not alone.
Whipping around, he turns to see who is at the other end of the chamber: A beautiful, naked woman. Pale, extremely gaunt, dark eyes, long dark hair. She has been cruelly chained to the floor of the chamber. Strategically placed hair and chains cover her where appropriate.
She is definitely still alive. Well, “alive.” She and Destructor make eye contact, and she nods her head in greeting.
Destructor is smitten.
After a dazed pause, he quickly thinks to help her. Dropping the sword, he turns and grabs a big blanket from the skeletal corpse—a guard, most likely—in each hand. Approaching her, he reaches out his hands with them.
“Want one?” he says.
“Thanks,” she responds. He hands her a blanket and she wraps it around herself, chains clanking.
Looking at her would-be rescuer, she reaches out and touches him, her slender fingers brushing his metal face.
Lady: “You wear strange armor.”
Lady: “What lies beneath your mask?”
Destructor (embarrassed): “…nothing.”
Her chains clank again.
Destructor reaches out, encircling her tiny wrists and the steel cuffs that encircle them.
Destructor: “Your chains…should I…”
Lady: “That won’t be necessary.”
She points across the chamber.
Lady: “Bring me my dead face.”
Destructor turns, and for the first time he notices that behind the body of the guard is a tiny antechamber, more like an alcove or a small slit recess in the rear, its entrance sealed with ice and almost impossible to see due to the frost.
Destructor walks to the end of the chamber. Kicking aside the corpse of the guard, he brushes away some of the frost and snow/ice particles from the frozen wall. Inside he can barely see what appears to be a pedestal, with a mask of some sort sitting on top of it.
He gives the ice a sturdy knock with his fist. It’s rock-solid.
He stands back and points his arm straight at the wall, his hand a fist. A blast of energy fires out of his fist and shatters the ice wall with a CRSSSSH.
Destructor looks inside. Resting against a round stone is a death mask in the shape of a skull face. Atop the round stone is a silver tiara-like crown.
He grabs both and walks back to the Lady. He hands her the crown, which she puts atop her head. Almost immediately she looks more regal, more powerful, more dangerous. She speaks, but her eyes look distant, as though she is talking not to Destructor but to herself.
Lady: “They knew they could not kill me, so they thought to break me. Sealing me in with my betrayer, they chained me in this body. But I need not food, nor love, nor life.”
She turns and looks at Destructor. He hands her the skull mask. She takes it and puts it on.
INSTANTLY—like, one panel she’s one way, the next panel she’s different—upon putting on the mask, she is transformed into a living skeleton. Her gaunt flesh is gone, bones in its place. In her eye sockets dances a remote, gleeful fire. Her crown shimmers, the animal skins cling to her bones. It’s not that her living human face is now wearing a skull mask—her head has become a skull, her body is just bones. Hopefully this will look really creepy and unnerving.
The Lady speaks.
Lady: “My power is in my dead face.”
I hope that answers your question, FbP. And remember, everyone, if you’ve got a question, ask it in the comments and we’ll answer it as best we can!