It Thickens

Haven’t posted for a couple of days, because the place has been in a bit of commotion. I’ll get back to daily posts as soon as I can.

Nothing further to report on the new DC project. Nothing new to report on my health — fortunately.

Mary and I hope to get together this weekend to work on *Hard Time* #5. As I’ve mentioned, Mary had to plot this issue almost entirely on her own, with just a couple of emailed suggestions from me along the way. And “plot” is exactly what she did. For this issue of the book, we’re utilizing the writing method that used to be called “Marvel style” — plot, pencils, dialogue, in that order — as opposed to the “full script” method, with complete panel breakdowns, art descriptions, and dialogue created all at the same time. I haven’t worked this way for a decade or so.

The full script method, of course, gives the writer almost total control over every aspect of the story, but comics produced that way sometimes read a little too “written,” if you know what I mean. The writer’s presence can be felt too strongly, becoming almost a distraction from the story itself.

Working “Marvel style”, by contrast, cedes the artist much more control over the pacing of the story and historically has led to some very sloppy writing. But it can also permit the writer, dialoguing the story from the pencil art, to achieve a degree of spontaneity and energy that’s almost impossible with a full script.

I’ll be curious to see how this experiment turns out.

8 Responses to “It Thickens”

  1. A.L. Baroza Says:

    Well, Brian Hurtt’s a solid storyteller. He won’t go all Liefeld on you working from a plot, so the process could very well play to the strengths of the Marvel method.

    It’s funny that no one really works in that fashion anymore, not even at Marvel. I wonder why that is. Is it some kind of reaction of modern writers to the excesses of the Image days? A means to secure more control over the end product?

    Between Hard Time #5 and Joe Casey’s Godland, maybe the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction.

  2. Craig Taylor Says:

    Interesting comments on “Marvel-style”. I remember reading a book with Alan Moore’s script for chapter one of “From Hell”, an epic read in itself. But I’ll make a note to read Hard Time 2 5 with this info in mind.

    Looking fwd to Hard Time 2. Loved season 1 and Brian’s artwork. I’ll be checking out Brian’s “The Damned”, from Oni, next year too.

  3. Steve Gerber Says:

    One reason no one works that way anymore is that very few artists today have been trained in that method. It’s tricky. Not only does it require strong storytelling skills on the part of the artist, it’s also an exercise in draftsmanship. Laying out panels in such a way that dialogue can be added without covering anything important (or beautiful) is an art and a science in itself.

  4. Jeff Clem Says:

    I’ve praised Steve Gerber plenty: here, to his face, elsewhere, and it’s deserved and I’ll keep on doing so…but let me say that Brian’s art on Hard Times is a major draw. When I first heard about the series, I thought that a pseudo-realistic Neal Adams imitator would be used; so, initially, when I say Brian’s art, I was taken off-guard. After a few pages, I was charmed. I met him in person at a small St. Louis con a year or so ago and bought some original art from him. He’s a nice guy, his prices were reasonable and, needless to say, the art is fantastic.

  5. Jeff Clem Says:

    Sorry about the typos in that previous comment. Of course, I mean “Hard Time” without the “s” and “saw,” instead of “say.”

  6. Craig Taylor Says:

    One other part of the artwork in Hard Time season 1 that was incredibly notable was the coloring. I find my enjoyment of comics these days is very dependent on the style of coloring.

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  7. Marc Bryant Says:

    I think Marvel-style scripting may have gone out of vogue when the idea of bullpens, or studios where artists and writers worked face to face fell out of style.
    The act of long distance collaboration by mail/Fed Ex whatever seems like a very cumbersome way of doing things ESPECIALLY with the writing/illustrating being broken up into even more steps with the Marvel style as oppossed to full script.
    However, with the advent of this internet thing, near real-time collaboration is a possibility again and writer/artist teams can work on their stories together, step by step, almost as if they were in a studio together.
    I’ve switched to “Marvel style” with a couple of my collaborators recently, and so far I think the spontaneity and flexibility makes for much better comics than when I was working full-script. Some of my colleagues blow and hiss at the idea of giving *any* additional control/benefit of the doubt to artists, but if it makes for comics with more “soul” for lack of a better word and a bigger sense of fun, I’m all for it personally.

  8. Frankie Says:

    I think “Marvel style” is much more difficult nowadays because you have a generation of artists raised and trained on Liefeld and McFarlane, as opposed to guys like Krigstein and Craig and Wood.