Storytelling 101k

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

This is one of my favorite pages. I love the way you can use one background over multiple panels in comics. There’s something about breaking up a background with panel dividers that totally gives the scene a feeling of movement as if a camera were panning across a background. I see it done all over the place, so I couldn’t remember the first time I saw it done. But I do remember the first time I really noticed it used to maximum effect, which was when I first read The Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

If you’ve read The Watchmen, you know it’s almost a textbook on how to tell a story in comics, and if you haven’t read it, run out right now and get the book before the movie comes out. I’m sure the movie will be great, but the book is one of the very best ever.

NOTE: The content for The Watchmen isn’t really All-Ages. If you live with your parents, you might want to check with them before reading. :)

13 Responses to “Storytelling 101k”

  1. Danny Burleson Says:

    “The content for The Watchmen isn’t really All-Ages.” THAT’S an understatement! lol

    Watchmen is definitely a must-read–and must-view–for any comic artist, but yeah, unless someone’s at least 16 to 18 or has very, um, ‘cool’ parents, it’s best to hold off. I read it for the first time two years ago (at age 25) and it still kind of freaked me out. Better to start out with something milder, like V for Vendetta. ;)

    As for the movie, the filmmakers have a larger project on their hands than I think they realize. Frankly, I’ve never understood why they didn’t just make a 12-part HBO maxi-series or something. But here’s hoping they still capture the heart of the story and aren’t afraid to make it like 2 hours, 58 minutes long if needed (followed by a LOTR-style extended edition, of course.)

    I hear they’re keeping it in the original alternate 1985, so that’s a good start. Imagine this year’s election in THAT dimension: Nixon running for an umpteenth term! :) ..

  2. kelly Says:

    I loved watchman! I think its a must read for any designer also the way the pages are broken up and even some of the each individual panels and how the buildings and characters are framed. This has to be one of my favorite strips so far due to the cinematographic way you’ve composed the strip, the humor, and that there are still paper airplanes flying around. :)

  3. J Mahood Says:

    Just grate my friend!

  4. Trade Says:

    Hey Danny, good to hear from you. So you think I understated the All-Ages thing, huh? lol.

    I totally agree with you on the length of the Watchmen movie. It’ll be tough to fit all the different sub-plots in there. I’ll really be interested to see how they handle the Black Freighter sequence (my favorite part). The casting of all the characters looks great. What do you think?

    I was interested in your comment about keeping the story set in 1985, but as I was thinking about it I realized they’d have to keep it set during the Cold War as Ozy’s whole plan was based on uniting the two nations on a common enemy, so I don’t think it would work if they did try to update it, but thankfully that’s not the case.

  5. Trade Says:

    Hey Kelly, Jonathan, Thanks for the comments. Glad you enjoyed the strip today. Those silly airplanes. :)

  6. Phil Says:

    I have enjoyed Zip and Lil’ Bit since the first story; this is a continually engaging and well-drawn comic. Watchmen: the only way it is going to work, in my opinion, is if they have every separate storyline running simultaneously on screen. And since that isn’t going to happen, it will probably be eviscerated and turned into a dumb ‘search for the bad guy’ group superhero film. Watchmen is even less filmable than V for Vendetta, which was lobotomised and sent out, drooling, into cinemas.

  7. Danny Burleson Says:

    Logistically, if you look all the plots and subplots of Watchmen, it’s the Black Freighter that ties it all together. But, realistically, I think that would be the first thing to get chopped for time when looking at the big picture.

    I personally think the best thing they could do to make for a happy medium between length and fan-service, is to make the Black Freighter story anyway (either filmed live or 2-D animated; NOT 3-D) and make it a DVD-only “branching mode” sub-feature that plays the scenes at appropriate times throughout the movie. That way non-fans don’t have to sit in the theatre for 4+ hours just for the sake of “getting the whole story” and fans still get the payoff they deserve.

    Either that, or open with this disclaimer: The following film is based on a lengthy graphic novel. We tried to cram the story into less than 120 minutes and probably didn’t succeed. After viewing this film, we encourage you to buy “Absolute Watchmen” or borrow it from your local library to understand what’s going really on. Otherwise, Alan Moore will stalk you.

  8. Trade Says:

    Hey Phil. Nice to hear from you, and thanks for the props. :)

    You and Danny make really good points about them having to chop quite a bit of that story up to make it movie length. Sadly, I bet you’re right in that the Black Freighter won’t make the cut (anyone knowing different feel free to holler).

    On another note, do you think they’ll stay true to the comic version of Dr. Manhattan’s costume?

  9. Danny Burleson Says:

    HA! Considering it’s the same director as “300″, except for maybe an implied scene or a, um, ‘rear shot’, methinks he will wear those black shorts throughout.

    And now I can’t help but think anyone who hasn’t read Watchmen yet, isn’t going to now. lol

  10. mike Says:

    that star maker is the most awesomest thing ever.

  11. Daniel Ted Feliciano Says:

    I’m jealous already.

  12. Trade Says:

    Hey Mike, Daniel, Good to hear from you. I agree. I need one of the star-makers too.

  13. Laurie Jones Says:

    Folding paper, specially paper airplanes, is a fun activity that can be shared by the entire family. Boys and girls, young or old. It doesn’t really matter. It also teaches you about aerodynamics. There are 50 paper airplanes at