Thursday, February 4, 2010

From Script to Page: Page 1

To a lot of people, the process of making a comic is a mysterious one. In this "From Script to Page" series, I'm gonna try to pull back the curtain a little and show you some of the thinking and drawing that went into the creation of MONSTERPLEX. Enjoy!


The first draft of the MONSTERPLEX script came together pretty quickly over just a few hours. It was one of those lightning-in-the-bottle creative sessions you always hope for but rarely get. Subsequent drafts did not differ greatly from the rough. The whole story just kind of fell out of head.

Let's look at the script for page one:

Page 1

1 – We see two women buying tickets for a show at the front ticket window of CORMAN CINEMAS. Corman Cinemas looks like the sort of place you wouldn’t have wanted to go into even if you were being chased by a mugger, an element which, unfortunately, tends to hand out around the theater. Old movie posters for such classics as “It Came From the Back Nine” (a monster terrorizes a country club golf course) and “Aunt Attack” (serial killer Aunt cuts through her nieces and nephews) and “Vampire Love Boat” (this one’s pretty obvious, but it’s about Vampires that seduce and feed on a cruise ship) and “Beetles in the Breadbasket” (Bugs storm a restaurant and get in the food) line the outer walls. The posters, like most everything on the outer fa├žade of Corman Cinemas, are barely hanging on. (In fact, let’s not really see the posters very well. They should be mostly obscured or so small we can’t make them out. We’re going to feature them more prominently later.) We can see the large, fluorescent sign reading “Corman Cinemas” We can’t see who is selling the tickets in the ticket window because he or she is obscured by the dark glass. This should be the big panel on the page, either vertically off to the left side of the page, or horizontally across the top. Whichever works. Check out the other comics on Zuda to see how they handle the space.

The women: One is Lucy. . Lucy is in her mid-40’s, wears glasses and generally thinks she’s too cool for school. But she LOVES monster movies! Lucy carries a purse.

Not so excited is Angelina Patel, Lina for short. She’s an attractive East Indian woman in her mid-30’s. She’s dressed, as her friend is, in business attire. Lina would rather be anywhere other than Corman Cinemas.

Two, please!

Lucy, what is
this place?

2- The two women are now inside the theater and having their tickets torn. The inside of Corman Cinemas stands as a direct contrast to the outside. Sleek and clean, this is an inviting theater with a great big lobby and classically styled architecture. At the same time, it’s very modern. Think of it like the great movie houses of old like Grauman’s Chinese and Egyptian, but with all the modern accouterments like an ATM, modern snack bar, an arcade, etc.

We shouldn’t be able to get a good look at any of the theater employees yet. Feel free to put other patrons roaming in the background, but I want the employees to remain mysterious. I see this panel as being shot over the ticket tearer’s husky shoulder.

The women are very wrapped up in their conversation, neither one paying any attention to the employee.

Lina, relax.
I found it
online, isn’t it great?
They only show old
monster movies here,
nothing else. Is that
not the greatest thing
you’ve ever heard of?

Sounds like a
good way to lose a
lot of money.

Second theater to your right.

3- The women are now at the concessions counter. Lucy is fishing money out of her purse to pay for the their snacks, while Lina takes the popcorn being handed to her by the concessions employee. Again, neither is paying any attention to the employee. Indeed, all we even see is a very hairy, clawed hand poking out of a uniformed sleeve handing the popcorn to Lina.

For shame!
You dare besmirch the
name of man’s greatest creation,
the low budget b-movie!?
You are dead to me.


Better dead than

4- The two women walking down the hallway to their show. Again, keep the employees mostly hidden, but feel free to include a couple patrons.

I see there’s a
lack of Zombie in
your movie diet.
We may made need to make
more than one trip.

You are really into
this stuff.

It’s primal, Lina.
We all need a good
scare once in a while.
It’s only when we’re
frightened that we
truly want to be

5- The two women sitting by themselves in the darkened theater with their popcorn and sodas. Lina is reaching into the large popcorn tub.


You telling me
Zombies are life affirming?

Not just zombies, but vampires,
werewolves, mutant creatures—
the whole lot of them.

What’s this one about?

6- A smallish panel, maybe inset in panel 5. We see Lina’s hand being brought to her mouth, full of popcorn and, more importantly, bugs. The bugs are crawling over her hand and in the popcorn. Let’s make ‘em beetles. This is a close-up shot. We should only see Lina’s mouth and hand. We wanna get up close and personal with the grossness.

LUCY (from off panel)



As you can see, I'm a wordy sonuvagun. You'll even notice some dialogue in panel 3 that I later deleted completely.

I've found that most artists like a lot of description, not less. Monsterplex Artist David Schlotterback is a bit of comics novice so I really wanted to give him as much info as possible. As you can see, it really worked:

Dave did a great job with this first pass at page one, but there were some continuity problems and not enough room was left for the dialogue. I gave him some notes and he came back with something a lot closer to what you see in the final version:

I loved how Dave filled out the world a little more in this one.

DAVID: We wanted to have the backgrounds provide fodder for humor as the characters wander the halls. To take that further, I schemed to put my favorite people or characters from popular culture in the background for a little extra eye candy. I continue to do this with future pages of MP, so keep a look out in the background. You never know who you’ll see lurking the halls of Corman Cinemas.

Luckily, Dave is really good at sort of thing. Lots of cameos and great creature designs coming up as the MONSTERPLEX story really gets going on page 9! Be sure and help us get there by voting, favoriting, commenting, giving a 5-star rating and visiting often!

More later.



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