That’s it?! What’s IT?!
Heya gang! Welcome back for Page 18, which is our “loopback” page for the flashforward on Page 1 of this issue!
Everett is such a blast to write– particularly when doing these megalomaniac speeches, where you get to use insults like “mindless algae”. This guy didn’t enjoy teaching one bit!
This page, in particular, is why the issue runs a bit long– In the v.1 of the script, we pretty much rolled right from the Don/Sears fight and into Cally v. Warpy– but shortly before DJ started art, I went back and re-read the script and noticed that things seemed to move way too fast– what we were lacking was the beat of this page and last: Cally’s “darkest moment”– Adding it in did mess up our 22p/issue count, but seeing as there are no page limits for the web (and we’re formatted more to a trade at this point)– cutting a beat in order to make a theoretical pagecount seemed silly.
* One of the most admirable things about DJ’s art is the fact that the guy never takes shortcuts. He works completely analog, and it shows: Particularly in Panel 2, which is a “repeat” of Page 1’s spash– but, unlike a lot of artist, he didn’t cheat with a Photoshop cut/paste– but redrew the panel from a new perspective.
And nothing against artists that do use Photoshop to repeat panels, I just think it’s really worth noting when you see a guy doing the old school way!
* Another nice little piece of Lisa atmosphere on this page as well! I noticed the slight coloring in the top right corner of Panel 1, which matches as a light source to Cally’s right hand in Panel 2–
I also thought it was kinda cool how Lisa uses different skin tone colors for Cally and Everett– With Cally (being our heroine) looking a little healthier, while Everett has a slightly pallid quality. Mostly because bad guys shouldn’t have nice tans.
* Brant pretty much completes Everett’s verbal transference to Warpy– I gotta say, it’s a little device worked out like a charm for this particular story beat!
Props to Brant for the design!
Speaking of Brant, he’s running a bit of a garage sale on Ebay right now– he’s got some great stuff up, so make sure you swing by to see if anything tickles your fancy!
SPYING ON THE NET
We seem to have had a pretty decent couple of weeks in terms of visitor traffic– spiking up in terms of page views, which is pretty nice. In fact, according to InkOutbreak (one of the webcomic listing sites we’re on) we had a 3k day a few weeks back.
I’ve actually mostly stopped fretting about the hitcount– One of the nice things I’ve noticed is that we seem to consistently have a great number more page views compared to our visitor count– which means when people stop by, then tend to read a bunch of pages.
That said, I am looking at rolling out some changes when we hit the next arc– possibly toning down on the Process pieces, and doing some new segments.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about our format– Warren Ellis recently posted up an interesting little article on the (literal) shape of webcomics, and how many of them have moved to a two-tier format– actually, in much the same form as we began on Zuda– but, at the end of the day, I’m sticking to our guns with our normal “print” layout– mostly because I don’t mind scrolling, and I don’t want to shackle DJ’s layouts to a fixed form.
What I am really focusing on tightening things up for the next issue. Since this first one was written to the trade, it tended to unfold a bit slowly. So, I’m attempting to beatsheet things in more of a single issue format– using 3 acts at 8 pages a piece to create a single 24 page issue, that also works as three 8 page issues, in the hopes that propels the storytelling momentum.
All of which is to say, I’m starting to get really jazzed up about the next phase of Spy6teen– I think you guys are really going to dig the directions we start heading in!
Well, that’s it for this week, gang! We’ll see ya in 7 days for:
Happy Pi day, gang! And welcome back for page 9– as you can see, Cally’s getting into character here, so you can be sure a number of action packed pages are headed your way!
This week we’ve got a page that ranks up in my “top 10” Spy6teen pages yet. I think it really sums up the book as a whole as well: We’ve got the techy-science stuff, Cally wisecracking, the high school, the Quad War room, and a big “getting into costume” moment! In all, I think this might be the quintessential S16 page!
* As soon as DJ popped this page into the Dropbox, I knew I had to go digging into the archives to check out the last time we had an on-screen Slide– which actually dates all the way back to the second page of our Zuda version in 2009– geez, almost 3 years ago!
Compare the image above to the very first “Slide”:
The effect is still more or less the same, but DJ’s added in a pretty cool “portal” effect for our 2012 version. The evolution of the Slide is going to be fun to track– I’m already starting to feel like it’ll be our version of the Star Trek “Transporter”– Beam us up, Control!
* As a side note, how awesome would this technology be? Don’t like what you’re wearing: Insta-Change!
* Lisa really nailed the Slide effect! I love the slight halo’ing of Cally in Panel 4, which creates an awesome moment of transition/unreality– It works so well, since Cally is transforming into her “superhero” persona. It’s an epic frame and Lisa’s colors render it as such.
* Here’s one little effect I’m not sure you guys are seeing or not in the Web version– I’ve talked before about how, post-compression, we sometimes lose some subtle details in the lineart and colors. I did a little compare/contrast on the last page of Issue 3.
Well, we’ve got a bit of that this page as well– Around the slide effect, Lisa sprinkled in some neat “Slide Dust”– which, I think got a little compressed out– Here’s a shot of the Hi-Def version:
Hopefully, once we hit “Absolute” or at least “Trade Paperback” (which will be available at the end of this issue), we’ll have a printer who will be able to handle and deliver these awesome little details!
* Brant has some “easy” pages coming up– which I think he’s paid in advance on over the last few! This was another STACKED page– and given the 4 vertical top panels (where, naturally, all the dialogue actually takes place!), I was positive that we were going to run into spacing issues.
Luckily, our ninja-riffic editor, DJ “The Blade” Kirkbride managed to do some splicing and dicing to get it all working on the page.
One of DJ’s great magic powers is his ability to break up dialogue over the course of a few panels. For example, Control’s big “tech-y” speech in Panels 2 and 3 were originally scripted for ONLY Panel 2– obviously, wayyyy too much text– And yet, for some reason, my first thought is to start hacking down…whereas Judo DJ can take that negative energy and flip it into another panel.
Ok…I’m done with the ninja/martial arts wordplay…
On the Brant side….C’mon: FAZZZZZZZZAAAAAASHHH! How cool is that?!
Brant did send along an ALT look:
…but both DJ and I preferred the bold/in-your-faceness of the final effect. I tend to think you’ll agree– but if you don’t, tell us why!
SPYING ON THE NET/WRAP UP!
Well, I called it as soon as I saw it:
Marvel is dipping into a Digital Comics Line– and one that’s producing comics specifically for Tablet devices. How’d I call it?
Take a look at the aspect ratio of that announcement image: Doesn’t it look like it’d fit comfortably in an Ipad or Iphone?
Announced at SXSW, Marvel ReEvolution is set to do two things: 1) Add an Augmented Reality component to comics, and 2) create a new format for comics to be released in.
The first (which you can see a bit of here) is a bit gimmicky, reminding me of the “this is going to change everything!” Motion Comic fad– That said, what I am excited for is newly produced comic content that’d going to be available on tablets.
From what I’ve heard, it appears that they’ll be testing the waters with original comics that tie into ongoing stories– but I’m hoping that down the line, we might see wholly original titles (within the Marvel U) being released.
Best part: My understanding is that the Digital comics are free with purchase of a physical print, OR, 99 cents to buy them without.
Longtime readers know I’ve been railing on the 99 cent digital price point for…well, ever…so I’m extremely enthused to hear this news. This could be the thing that brings a bunch of new readers into comics.
The real surprise of the announcement was the involvement of Mark Waid (who I’ve been talking about for the last few weeks)–
When it comes to digital comics, Mark Waid is really the guy with the right amount of passion, curiosity, experience, and creative juice to pull this off.
Kudos, Marvel! I’m looking forward to this!
Ok, that’s it for this week–
NEXT WEEK: CALLY’S ON THE SCENE!
Welcome back for PAGE 15!!
It’s great to be back after a fantastic 3-day weekend (which happened to be a birthday weekend for yours truly)—Now that summer is officially wrapping up (although, if you live in the US, it might not feel like it!) I’m starting to feel like I’m getting back on track with Spy6teen.
The summer was a ton of fun, but between juggling the freelance-day job, and keeping up with visiting friends and going out of town, I was having a hard time balancing out the comic stuff—For example, I’m now impossibly behind on Blog@16, but I do promise to get rolling again on that particular feature.
I’m still happy to report that we’ve only “missed” one day of the main feature though—and hey, 1 out of 59 ain’t anything to shake a stick at.
(Wow…59 pages? I didn’t even realize until now we’ve come this far!)
This week we delve a little further into Anton Vess and reveal him to be the “Big Bad” behind the Chaos Imperious—I’m pretty sure most of you saw this reveal coming, but obviously from a story standpoint: We have to connect the dots.
If there’s one thing I love about this page it’s that we finally get to reveal the Imperious’ motivation: Destroy the World!!
That’s something that has been in place since the start of Spy6teen—when it came to developing a foil for Cally, I really wanted to called back to the old school villains of my youth: Dr. Doom, Dark Phoenix, good ‘ole Cthulhu!
The way I figure it, if you’re gonna go bad, go BIG! And nothing is bigger than a plot to destroy the world…not take it over, nope: Destroy!
That said, the motivation has been thought out: Over the last few generations of genre fiction, we have seen Villain motivation evolve—After all, why would you want to destroy the world? Don’t you LIVE here?!
There was a general shift where Super Villains stopped attempting to destroy, and instead RULE — Cobra Commander, I’m looking in your direction…
I think as the world has become a smaller and more complex place, the idea of a megalomaniac wanting to rule the world has become a bit outdated as well. I sort of chuckle at the thought of Cobra Commander having to attend Worldly Budget Meetings and having to deal with lobbyists. So, back to basics: Let’s destroy the world!
That said, we’re not quite seeing the full picture here: Although destroying the world sounds pretty insane, Vess is a chaotically brilliant man—he’s got a reason!!
We aimed for something different on this page: Sort of a montage of the two sides of Vess. That said, I went WAY overboard on the CAPS/Dialogue on the page, which necessitated an early morning Me/Brant/DJ editing session.
As far as artwork, DJ did a pretty bang up job on the culmination of our “infodump” section—I really wanted to go out with a bang for this chapter of the book, and I think the full body Vess shot, along with the Imperious/Army troops in the background quite visually tells the story.
That said, because I had so much “page room”, I really mucked up with a ton of expansionary dialogue. I gotta hand it to Editor DJ, who managed to whittle down my overwrought explanations for Vess’ rise to power, while maintaining the core ideas.
Again, Lisa’s colors create both a sense of mood and time. She maintains a Sepia-ish tone for the main image of the page—indicating a “past time” as she had throughout our Flashback sequence on the previous pages. I’m a fan of how Vess’ decent into madness matches the same palette we see on this page– creating a kind of color continuity.
Still, I think everyone is going to be happy once we’ve finally moved Cally and the gang out of these dreary caves!
Brant flagged DJ (Kirkbride) and myself fairly early on– He did an initial layout of the page during the flatting stage and discovered, no matter how you sliced it, it just wasn’t going to work.
DJ hopped to work with his red pen and razor blade (he carries them around with him at all times, it’s impressive!) and got to editing. We bounced a few emails back and forth and by this morning had the page you see before you.
if you happened to have swung by yesterday, our last panel looked like this:
Now, obviously Brant did everything he could to maintain Conrad’s final line– which was meant to lead into a bit of a “pet” line for me at the start of next week’s page. Brant provided two versions, one with the “How” line and one without. My first reaction was to maintain the script and keep the “How?” line– but after sleeping on it for a night, I’ve decided to pull it out.
Here’s the thing: Although there isn’t anything technically “wrong” with the “How?” line, it isn’t very aesthetic– Again, no fault of Brant’s at all– he did his best to make the line work, and really– that’s just the only way to do it.
But my job (and Editor DJ) at the end of the day is to make the book work– to make it look as clean and professional as we can humanly make it. DJ shot me an email to let me know that he strongly preferred the non-”How?” version– and (after a good night’s sleep) I have to agree.
So, that’s that– no “How?”– we’ll make next week’s page work without it!
Probably one of the best things about working in this weekly web format is that we can change on the fly like this– Can’t think of any other mass communication storytelling medium that allows for these on-the-fly re-edits…
…well, unless you’re George Lucas and Star Wars…
So as of our next page we’ll finally be moving out of Flashback/Infodump mode– and man am I ready for it! We finally get back to Cally and the main story as we round into the final story beats of this issue!
As soon as I get a chance, I’ll have our Top Web Comics incentive image updated!
and by that, I mean as soon as I reset my password for both Flickr and Top Web Comics, as I’ve managed to lock myself out of both accounts!!
A quick word of thanks (and perhaps our first No-Prize!) to Emote Control, who put together a really great comment on why the MK-Black higher ups might have brought Anton Vess on to begin with! You guys should check it out on last week’s page!
Lots of fun stuff coming up, gang! We’ll be back next week: Same Spy Time, same Spy URL!!
NEXT WEEK: CALLY BACK IN ACTION!!