Here’s the writer notes for The Stone King chapter 1. It’s by me and Tyler Crook. If you haven’t read it, don’t read the rest of this. I’m spoiling everything.
pages 1 – 4
I wanted the Stone King to open up with a silent action scene. It would build atmosphere and mood. It’s kinda a risky approach cause it’s easy for a reader to see this silent bit and think “Why should I care about this person?” But the Stone King is huge and this quieter opening is a good way to show the reader rather than tell.
It was originally two pages but Tyler suggested added more to help show off the landscape.
That first splash page is key to introducing the silence giant though.
page 5 – 9
Ave climb up does a lot of work to establish things visually. We have her skills are competent but not perfect, how much the Stone King is aware of it’s own body, and how the moss has magic healing properties. They also all lead into each other. The Stone King swatting at her grappling hook like it’s an insect, leads to Ave getting caught by surprise and injuring herself, and that injury lets the moss show off what it can do.
Tyler’s art does a great job showing that all off that the scene doesn’t need dialogue. Which is good because I usually hate it when character talk to themselves.
page 10 – 14
The Ruby is our story McGuffin. Ave’s excitement at it rather than the moss healing her, is to make it clear that the moss is an known thing to her. This gem is something new and exciting. Tyler and I brainstormed a replacement for Holy Crap! We are aiming for a middle grade age range, so this has the added bit of both world building and keeping out real world curses. Our idea was that their culture and success is built around the Stone King. So their curses should reflect that.
A tiny detail that is easy to miss is the blood around the Stone King cut. It’s not there until Ave climbs past it to get to the healing moss. The idea is some of her blood got near the Stone King’s cut. It’s easy to forget about intentionally because Ave forgets about it too. She’s too distracted but her new ruby. There is also a glow there that wasn’t there until after her blood got smeared there.
Ave showing it off to Hey You and having her attempt to eat it was something I thought would be cute. Tyler added the line of drool when Ave takes it from her mouth.
And with Ave’s first real batch of dialogue (rather than just curses and “oh no”s give you some context for her climb. And immediately starts the thread of her not entirely liking her role in life.
Page 15 – 16
The first draft didn’t have this scene. It went straight to her in the city. But Tyler wanted to establish more of the landscape and what the city was like from the outside. I also realized we should introduce Phul sooner. He is our second main character but wasn’t appearing in the first chapter.
I thought this little gate guarding scene would work to show Phul is still learning how to be a guard. It also gives Ave something to give credit to her story when she asked Phul for help.
page 17 – 18
I always like establishing settings like this. I thought of the opening intro of the Cowboy Bebop movie and how that makes the city feel lived in and shows shots of the daily life.
Here is where having a great collaborator helps. I told Tyler the high points of what’s going on in the city. Like this is the main street and on it are these types of things, then Ave turns to this street that is less populated and has this, then she finally turns down on her street which is run down and more empty. I also gave Tyler the dialogue that random people are saying. He could then break is up and zoom in on what he did and didn’t what.
The one thing the needs to be seen clearly though is the shaman saying a prayer over the injured person. That prayer pops up a few more times. It’s something that would be known but any resident of Stoneport.
page 19 – 21
Rheebee’s intro to the reader was important cause she is gonna inform a lot of who Ave is and add emotional conflict through Ave’s life. In this scene notice that Rheebee doesn’t ever praise Ave. She accuses Ave of lying, tries to cheat her out of her share of the prize. All she gives Ave is her new assignment and a cynical statement about life. It gives you a glimpse of what Ave wants to escape.
page 22 – 25
I wanted to build on more of Ave’s discontentment with the city and her life before everything falls a part. There is a little bit of be careful what you wish for. She’s got a longing for more and all she has in her life is folks who tell her it will never happen. I also really like silent contemplative panels.
page 26 – 28
When the Stone King attacks you get to see the difference between Scritch and Ave. Where as Ave doesn’t get any joy from their circumstance, Scritch is the ideal of what Rheebee wanted out of the kids. Disaster makes Ave think of getting everyone out where as Scritch thinks of getting everyone’s stuff out.
This last double page spread marks the biggest difference from the comixology version and the print version. We wrote the script but then got some guidelines from comixology that told us now double page spreads. It makes sense cause they don’t work super well in comixology’s guided view. But it’s a great page turn in the book, so we kept it there. The digital version just has half the spread and Ave’s insert moved over.