Ladies and Gentlemen,
As of a few hours Antonio is done with the pencilling and ink of our comic.
But Sander, you made that same claim almost 2 months ago. Are you a liar?
Well not about Death’s End I am.
Ernest Hemmingway famously once said that the first draft of anything is shit. A sobering thought as a writer. No matter how good you think you may be, you are not above a very simple truth: you won’t get it right the first time.
Issue 1’s script went through a hundred different versions. Characters were added and removed. Even the main character changed.When the original comic took the viewpoint of Halias, the revised one saw everything through the eyes of Leonardo.
While in the original there were shapeshifting creatures floating through the Undercity, the revised one has none of that. Not because it was bad, but because it had no point.
When the script was finally given to an artist, I kept on making tweaks with every page of art that came in. At one point my artist even scolded me as there were at the time 3 different versions of the script. Each of them equal in what happened in them but with very different content.
When a perfectionist works with perfectionists you can be certain that if you show them what they wrote or drew or colored a month later they’ll regret choices they have made. Small details unnoticable by others, but glaringly obvious to them. J.K. Rowling said that she considers it now a mistake that Harry and Hermione didn’t end up together.
George Lucas tweaked his movies even when others thought they required no tweaking.It can be detrimental to the work. I actually told Antonio as I was considering a revision to warn me if I went George Lucas.
Our first page was an example of a long struggle to get it right. In January of 2016 an e-mail chain between myself and Antonio named Genesis was formed. In this chain the first page was shared by Antonio.
This was what he sent me:
And this is what actually ended up as page 1:
You can notice that the same events transpire in that page. However the framing is very differently. We no longer focus on a random member of the crowd in the first panel. Leonardo is way less dramatic.
The thing is, when Antonio sent me this, it felt off… But I couldn’t point out what felt off.
It looked good. The quality of the art was top notch. Everything felt good enough. But this was page 1.
This was the page that everyone would see as they open the book. This would be the page that has to convince people to flip the page and continue. So it has to be good.Some might even say that it should be held to a different standard than the rest of the comic, but I’d disagree with that.
The same quality should be expected from every page afterwards. No matter how you turn it. A first page has to achieve more than the pages afterwards.
After we announced the work on issue 1 was done, we gave it to a few people. Dialogue was tweaked. Mistakes fixed.
Some panels were redrawn as they lost the impact we wanted them to have. On top of that a full page was added to the work.
Page 16.5 it was nicknamed. One that was simply pushed into the comic to achieve two things. Add context to the scene that followed. Add some more time with a character.
And eventually the final page. My god that final page. A last page is an inviation to issue 2 as much as it is a closer to issue 1.
What we had looked good. But Antonio kept coming back to it.
“What if this character looks like this instead?”
Dialogue was switched around.
Even now I’m not sure if Antonio won’t message me tomorrow-morning going “let’s give that page another shot”.
This comic is going to age me thirty years, but it is so fun and satisfying seeing what I have in my mind come to life.
Fingers crossed that it will be smooth sailing from here on out.