Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Comic Book Script Library

The Comic Book Script library is a fascinating repository of the comic scripts of notable authors including Alan Moore, Bendis, Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Matt Fraction, Neil Gaiman, Brian K Vaughn and many more.
Some are links, some documents, some pdfs.

Neil Gaiman - The Sandman # 24

Page 10 panel 1 Long panel across the top of the page. Medium shot: the Sandman is smashing the mirror with his right fist (the key is in his other hand). Make this a very kinetic shot - his arm outstretched, his hand a fist, his cloak whipped back by the forward motion. It's a gesture of complete and utter frustration. It's a full-length mirror and his fist is ramming straight into it. Shards of glass are flying out from it, from the point in the centre where he's punching it. The Sandman's on the left of panel, the mirror hangs in the centre. Make this a really cathartic, violent panel. The Sandman is, of course, completely unhurt and untouched by this. (Kids: the Sandman doesn't exist - you do. Don't try this at home.)



And now a link to the master of the comic book script: Mr Alan Moore. This is the intro and the first panel to The Killing Joke - over 1000 words.
No wonder that there's a much quoted story that Eddie Campbell had his wife, Annie, mark anything that he needed to actually draw in highlighter on the immensely thick From Hell scripts.

(UPDATE 15th May - In the comments the ever so nice Mr Campbell points out that:
A JOKE OF DAVE SIM'S THAT FOR SOME REASON WON CREDENCE IN THIS LOONY COMIC BOOK WORLD OF OURS. THE TRUTH IS I ASKED ALAN TO INDICATE AT THE START OF EACH PAGE HOW MANY PANELS THERE WERE TO BE AND HOW EXACTLY THEY WERE TO BE PLACED ( E.G. 'THREE OVER THREE OVER TWO, WITH THE LARGE ONE ON THE BOTTOM TIER BEING ON THE RIGHT') THUS ANNE WAS ABLE TO RULE ALL THE PAGES IN INK WITHOUT ME HAVING TO READ THE SCRIPT FIRST. I NEVER DID NOT READ THE SCRIPT.
So, many apologies to Eddie. Thanks to him for not jumping up and down about it. And I shall never repeat the story again! King fuck-up is going to lie down.)

But then again, no one can describe water and say hello in such an entertaining way as Mr Moore:

Alan Moore - Batman: The Killing Joke -
Page 1 Panel 1 - a puddle of water:

WELL, I’VE CHECKED THE LANDING GEAR, FASTENED MY SEATBELT, SWALLOWED MY CIGAR IN A SINGLE GULP AND GROUND MY SCOTCH AND SODA OUT IN THE ASTRAY PROVIDED, SO I SUPPOSE WE’RE ALL SET FOR TAKE OFF. BEFORE WE GO SCREECHING OFF INTO THOSE ANGRY CREATIVE SKIES FROM WHICH WE MAY BOTH WELL RETURN AS BLACKENED CINDERS, I SUPPOSE A FEW PRELIMINARY NOTES ARE IN ORDER, SO SIT BACK WHILE I RUN THROUGH THEM WITH ACCOMPANYING HAND MOVEMENTS FROM OUT CHARMING STEWARDESS IN THE CENTRE AISLE.
FIRSTLY, SINCE I’M NOT ENTIRELY SURE HOW THESE GRAPHIC NOVELS ARE SET OUT, MIGHT I SUGGEST THAT IF THERE ARE END-PAPERS OF ANY KIND THEY MIGHT BE DESIGNED SO AS TO FLOW INTO AND OUT OF THE FIRST AND LAST PANELS OF THE STORY. SINCE BOTH THE FIRST AND LAST PANELS CONTAIN A SIMPLE CLOSE-UP IMAGE OF THE SURFACE OF A PUDDLE RIPPLED BY RAIN, THEN MAYBE A SIMPLE ENLARGEMENT OF A BLACK AND WHITE RIPPLE EFFECT TO THE POINT WHERE IT BECOMES HUGE AND ABSTRACT WOULD BE IN ORDER? AS WITH ALL MY VISUAL SUGGESTIONS, BOTH HERE AND IN THE PANEL DESCRIPTIONS BELOW, PLEASE DON’T FEEL BOUND IN BY THEM IN ANYWAY. THEY’RE ONLY MEANT AS WORKABLE SUGGESTIONS, SO IF YOU CAN SEE A BETTER SET OF PICTURES THAN I CAN (WHICH I’D SAY IS QUITE LIKELY, ALL THINGS CONSIDERED) THEN PLEASE FEEL FREE TO THROW OUT WHAT I’VE COME UP WITH AND SUBSTITUTE WHATEVER YOU FEEL LIKE.
I WANT YOU TO FEEL AS COMFORTABLE AND UNRESTRICTED AS POSSIBLE DURING THE SEVERAL MONTHS OF YOUR BITTERLY BRIEF MORTAL LIFESPAN THAT YOU’LL SPEND WORKING ON THIS JOB, SO JUST LAY BACK AND MELLOW OUT. TAKE YOUR SHOES AND SOCKS OFF. FIDDLE AROUND INBETWEEN YOUR TOES. NOBODY CARES. ANOTHER GENERAL NOTE WOULD REGARD STYLE AND PRESENTATION. I’VE ALREADY GONE INTO THIS IN THE SYNOPSIS, SO I WON’T DWELL ON IT TOO MUCH HERE, EXCEPT TO UNDERLINE A COUPLE OF THE MORE IMPORTANT POINTS, ONE SUCH POINT WOULD BE OUR TREATMENT OF THE BATMAN AND HIS MYTHOS, INCLUDING THE BATMOBILE, THE BATCAVE AND WHATEVER OTHER ELEMENTS MIGHT FIND THEMSELVES INCLUDED IN THE STORY BEFORE IT’S END. AS I SEE IT, THIS STORY ISN’T SET IN ANY SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD. WE DIDN’T SHOW ANY CALENDARS, OR ANY NEWSPAPERS WITH HEADLINES CLOSE ENOUGH TO READ THE DATE. THE ARCHITECTURE AND THE SETTINGS IN GENERAL THAT WE SEE ARE EITHER OBVIOUSLY OLD AND DATES, AS IN THE CARNIVAL SEQUENCES, OR HAVE AN AMBIGUOUS ORT OF LOOK TO THEM THAT’S BOTH FUTURISTIC AND ANTIQUE AT THE SAME TIME, AS WITH THE FLEISCHER-SUPERMAN/LANG’S METROPOLIS LOOK THAT I SEE OUR VERSION OF GOTHAM CITY AS HAVING, AT LEAST ON IT’S UPPER LEVELS. THE LOWER AND SEEDIER LEVELS OF GOTHAM ARE MORE INCLINED TOWARDS A TERRITORY SOMEWHERE BETWEEN DAVID LYNCH AND THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, ALL PATCHES OF RUST AND MOULD AND HISSING STEAM AND DAMP, GLISTENING ALLEYWAYS. I IMAGINE THIS STRIP AS HAVING AN OPPRESSIVELY DARK FILM NOIR FEEL TO IT, WITH A LOT OF UNPLEASANTLY TANGIBLE TEXTURES, SUCH AS YOU HABITUALLY
RENDER SO DELIGHTFULLY, TO GIVE THE WHOLE THING A REALLY INTENSE FEELING OF PALPABLE UNEASE AND CRAZYNESS. SINCE I KNOW THAT YOU LIKE USING LARGE AREAS OF BLACK ANYWAY, THEN MIGHT I SUGGEST THAT WE USE THE DARK AND SHADOWY NATURE OF OUR BACKDROPS AND THE BLACKNESS OF THE BATMAN’S COSTUME TO GIVE US AS MANY INTERESTING PRIMARILY-BLACK COMPOSITIONS AS WE CAN GET AWAY WITH? THE FACT THAT THE JOKER IS SUCH A BLEACHED AND BLOODLESS WHITE PLAYS OFF INTERESTINGLY AGAINST THIS, I RECKON, SO PLEASE FEEL FREE TO GO COMPLETELY LOOPY WITH THE QUINK ON THIS ONE. AS FAR AS THE CHARACTERS THEMSELVES GO, I’LL DESCRIBE THEM IN DETAIL WHEN THEY MAKE THEIR APPEARANCES, BUT MY ONLY GENERAL NOTE WOULD BE THAT LIKE THE LANDSCAPE AND THE VARIOUS PROPS, THEY HAVE A SORT OF TIMELESS AND MYTHIC QUALITY TO THEM WHICH DOESN’T FIX THEM FIRMLY IN ANY ONE AGE-RANGE OR TIME-PERIOD. THE JOKER LOOKS EITHER OLD OR BADLY DEPRAVED, BUT THEN HE’S ALWAYS LOOKED THAT WAY. THE BATMAN IS BIG AND GRIM AND OLDER THAN WE ARE, BECAUSE AS I REMEMBER THE BATMAN HE’S ALWAYS BEEN BIGGER AND OLDER THAN I AM AND I’LL FIGHT ANY MAN THAT SAYS DIFFERENT. GIVEN THIS TIMELESS AND MYTHIC QUALITY, IT ALSO STRIKES ME THAT THERE ARE CERTAIN ELEMENTS OF THIS STORY THAT HAVE STRONG OPERATIC ELEMENTS. BOTH THE BATMAN AND THE JOKER HAVE A POWERFUL OPERATIC QUALITY TO THEIR APPEARANCE IN THAT THE JOKER IS AN EXTREME VERSION OF THE HARLEQUIN FIGURE WITH THE BATMAN’S CAPE AND
MASK LOOKING LIKE SOMETHING STRAIGHT OUT OF DIE FLEDERMAUS. I DUNNO WHY I MENTION THIS EXCEPT TO UNDERLINE THE SORT OF GRAND EMOTIONAL INTENSITY I WANT THIS BOOK TO HAVE WITH BOTH THE BATMAN AND THE JOKER BECOMING POWERFUL AND PRECISE SYMBOLIC FIGURES IN A NIGHTMARISH AND ALMOST ABSTRACT LANDSCAPE. ANYWAY, BEFORE I WANDER OFF INTO A COMPLETELY IMPENETRABLE AESTHETIC FOG I SUPPOSE WE OUT TO ROLL OUR SLEEVES UP AND GET STRAIGHT DOWN TO BUSINESS WITHOUT FURTHER ADO.
THIS FIRST PAGE AND A COUPLE OF THE SUBSEQUENT ONES HAVE NINE PANELS APIECE, ALBEIT WITH VERY LITTLE OR NO DIALOGUE TO CLUTTER THEM UP. I WANT THE SILENCE AND THE METRONOME-LIKE VISUAL BEAT THAT THE PANELS WILL HAVE TO CREATE A SENSE OF TENSION AND INTRIGUE AND SUSPENSE WITH WHICH TO DRAG THE READER INTO THE STORY, WHILE STILL LEAVING US ENOUGH ROOM TO SET UP ALL THE NARRATIVE AND ATMOSPHERIC ELEMENTS THAT WE WANT TO ESTABLISH. IN THIS FIRST PANEL, WE HAVE A TIGHT CLOSE UP OF THE SURFACE OF A PUDDLE. (SEE? AND THERE WAS YOU ALL WORRIED THAT I WOULDN’T GIVE YOU ANYTHING FASCINATING TO DRAW.) WE ARE SO CLOSE TO THE PUDDLE AS TO SEE IT ONLY AS AN ALMOST ABSTRACT IMAGE OF WIDENING RIPPLES SPREADING ACROSS A SHADOWY AND BLACK LIQUID SURFACE. IT IS NIGHT TIME, AND THE RIPPLES THAT WE SEE IN THE FOREGROUND ARE CAUSED BY LARGE DROPLETS OF RAIN THAT FALL THROUGH THE FOREGROUND IN DIAGONAL SLASHES. MAYBE WE CAN SEE ONE DROPLET AS ITS PRECISE MOMENT OF IMPACT WITH THE PUDDLE, SO CLOSE ARE WE TO IT. ALTHOUGH I DON’T SUPPOSE THAT THIS INFORMATION WILL MAKE MUCH DIFFERENCE TO THIS CURRENT PANEL, FOR YOUR FUTURE REFERENCE IT IS MID NOVEMBER AND BITTERLY COLD. HERE, ALL WE SEE IS THE RAIN SPLASHING INTO THE PUDDLE AND THE SILVERY WHITE RIPPLES SPREADING OUT ACROSS THE DARKNESS.
No Dialogue.

My favurite bit of the Alan Moore script is the minuscule "no dialogue" at the end of the 1000 words to say hello and describe a puddle. Genius.
(Link via somewhere. Ooops)

3 comments:

  1. "No wonder that there's a much quoted story that Eddie Campbell had his wife, Annie, mark anything that he needed to actually draw in highlighter..."

    A JOKE OF DAVE SIM'S THAT FOR SOME REASON WON CREDENCE IN THIS LOONY COMIC BOOK WORLD OF OURS. THE TRUTH IS I ASKED ALAN TO INDICATE AT THE START OF EACH PAGE HOW MANY PANELS THERE WERE TO BE AND HOW EXACTLY THEY WERE TO BE PLACED ( E.G. 'THREE OVER THREE OVER TWO, WITH THE LARGE ONE ON THE BOTTOM TIER BEING ON THE RIGHT') THUS ANNE WAS ABLE TO RULE ALL THE PAGES IN INK WITHOUT ME HAVING TO READ THE SCRIPT FIRST. I NEVER DID NOT READ THE SCRIPT.

    I also liked Alan's use of of caps as a visual clue as to which part was description and which part dialogue. that is, you can see they're separate clearly from a few feet away

    anway, good post.

    Eddie

    EDDIE

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  2. Very interesting! Although, you've neglected to provide a link to the actual library itself...and even a quick Google search doesn't reveal the source of all these (and other) gems.

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  3. Hi, chief fuck up here. All I can do is blame the stress and trauma of the day at work for the mistakes.

    Gavin - link all fixed.

    Eddie - sorry bout that. Even worse is that I'm convinced you've pulled me up on it before - and after a quick search I find you have. http://rhbfictions.blogspot.com/2007/01/alan-moore-eddie-campbell-best.html

    Sorry.
    Update in main post anyway. Going to lie down.

    ReplyDelete