My inner geek is shouting, 'First!'
This one really hits home. I had a script edited in TPG a while back. A script I was totally pumped for. A short 8 pager / scene from a larger project I've been working on. Then I got it edited and I was dumbfounded at how Steven (and other people) didn't see the awesomeness I saw. Then I realized... It's really easy to understand your flaws when somebody's there to point them out for you. You take stuff for granted, and you look into the mirror and see what you wanna see. That's the catch.
In this script, there's the main character's zombified wife. I describe her as 'the girl' half the time and 'his wife' the other half. And there's some flashbacks where she's human, then she's zombied in the present day. Well I wasn't clear. I had some people asking me if there's two girls in this story, whether the zombie is his former wife, people totally dumbfounded over my LACK OF CLARITY, that instead of being able to enjoy the story, they were constantly lost, trying to figure out where in the story they are, as readers.
And that, in short, is how you fail as a writer. Be clear and be precise. And that's the catch with comics. They require so many people to create a comic, that the writer types one thing, he see's something else, hands it to the penciler, who sees something else, then to the inker, who inks the wrong lines, to the colorist who messes up the colors, and to the letterer who blocks off the great artwork.
I remember hearing Quentin Tarantino sees his movies in his head as he's writing them. Like he can envision the scenes, the shots, hear the sound track, all that. And that's all fine and dandy. He can do that. And him overseeing the entire film, from concept to production, let's him put what he sees in his mind down onto paper, and into the camera lense, edited perfectly, and into the theatre. With comics, it's more of a relay race. Or one of them races where you run your ass off, hand the thing to the next person, then you sit and catch your breath and watch while they run to the next. And in the end of the race, it's not about which team had the fastest person, it's about which team ended it the fastest. The same goes for comics. Tarantino might be the fastest person on the track, and in movies that's all great, but with comics there's SO many interpretations that you HAVE to be clear. You gotta be precise. If you aren't, that's when stuff goes wrong.
Luckily, I'm hoping to be an artist / writer.. Which seems to make it a littler easier for me to think visually, and hopefully draw my own stories. I couldn't imagine just writing up a script, tossing it to some artist, and not seeing it until it's published. Or lettering somebody else take that thing, and basically put my creation into their hands. I'd feel so vulnerable. But that's why we gotta be precise. Clear. Don't let people misread what you thought you said. Anyway...
Another great post, Lee. Eagerly awaiting next week's column, where we expand on this single panel idea and become Time-Masters! Gasp. Hah.