Writer Notes The Stone King Part 4

Page 77 – 82

Big fight scene. I always have trouble writing these. I tried to use the surroundings a lot so it wasn’t a fight that could be randomly placed anyway. One idea that Tyler and I had for Phul is that while he is a new recruit, one thing he does that gives him an advantage is he can take a hit really well. So while Ave is jumping around and mostly dodging folks he is taking people more head on.

Page 83 – 85

I really like Scritch’s beat up face.

I wanted to have Ave start to leave and then come back for Phul as a reverse of her delaying saving Rheebee. This time she starts by being selfish but then listens to her own moral instincts. Then as they leave she changes Rheebee’s moto.

Page 86 – 87

I really like the faces gave Phul when he realizes how much blood there is.

Much like Ave is starting to leave her upbringing behind, Phul is learning too. So he needed to be the one to suggest they lie to his superior officer.

page 88 – 89

In case anyone was wondering where the Stone King has been all through the last half of the story, he’s literally getting pulled away. I like the groove Tyler put in the landscape to show that. They have a general plan for something like this, but this hasn’t happened in recent memory and the plan isn’t quite working. That give Ave and Phul their opening.

Page 90 – 95

These pages are important because they have to establish what the solution is. Basically Stone King “blood” and human blood mixing make the gems. So the Stone King doesn’t want the gem back. This is more a throne in the lion’s paw situation.  Their prayer/warning about blood is a warning about this. But this hasn’t happened in so long that the warning has evolved into a blood taboo over time. So bringing up at the beginning was kinda to put the idea of blood on stone being bad in people’s minds. Then this solution isn’t coming out of no where.

Page 96 – 99

The gems have been growing all night so they are in pretty deep and there are a lot of them.

page 100 – 104

I like quite moments in comics. Ave and Phul appreciating the view would be something neither of them have had time to do during the rest of the story. It all takes place in roughly a day.

It also gives Ave a moment to let it sink in that she saved the city but can’t return to it. As they say good bye to each other I wanted them to bring up things they said to each other through out the day. Showing that they understood each other. When Ave tells Phul he can do a better job saving everyone, I asked for a sad smile. That’s an expression which is hard to nail. Tyler knocked it out of the park.

I really wanted to end on that last view of Ave riding Hey You away from the city, having sorta got what she wanted.

Writer Notes The Stone King Part 3

These are my writer notes for The Stone King chapter 3. I’m gonna spoil it all. So if you haven’t read it skip this blog post.

Page 55 – 58

The creatures in the stable are called Stonebacks. I asked Tyler for something big and study like a rhino. Here the two important reactions from the kids are when they ask about Rheebee and how they feel about Phul. The kids don’t think Rheebee will be worried, just mad. I still wanted to push this Rheebee being a bad parental figure enough though Ave still feels bad about her death.

Their reaction to Phul is just to show how earlier the kids are taught not to trust or talk to guards. Scritch being everything Rheebee was trying to make them, immediately thinks you would only talk to a guard to snitch.

page 59 – 61

I wanted to give a little more context of the blood taboo in this culture. It’s a hint at the reveal of the end so I wanted to keep bringing it up. So you get a little more details about it. It’s blood touching the ground that is the biggest problem. I also wanted to show that Rheebee is weighing on her even if she isn’t showing it.

page 62 – 64

While Ave is more of a known quantity at this point, I needed to give the audience more about Phul. He wants to help but is more naive about the world than Ave. They are both kids but Phul is bigger so someone might mistake him as older.

page 65 – 68

After Ave’s outburst is what make Phul realize got more going on than her goal focused exterior. Until now he could dismiss it as a distraction. After all the last time it came up was right before she broke his nose. It takes them a moment of quiet to let things pass.

I also think Phul’s “I won’t tell anyone” verse Ave’s “Yes, you will. It’s your job” is the idealist verse the realist.

Ave hasn’t had much time to deal with her feelings. And this space is important.

page 69 – 71

This is an in general what Phul and the rest of the guards aren’t as on top of the local thieves as they’d like. It’s mostly Ave that shows how to find the thief hideout.

page 72 – 76

The green lights in the thief tunnel looks greats. Tyler is awesome.

When Ave sees Yorrick is when she feels like she can finally let her guard down. He was sorta the only who would give her comfort when Rheebee was harsh with her. Which leads to more of her shock when Yorrick pulls a knife on her.

Writer Notes The Stone King Part 2

These are my writer notes for The Stone King chapter 2. If you haven’t read it yet stick these writer notes. You can grab it on Comixology.

Page 30 – 31

When I wrote the Stone King, I did it all at once. In the collection, these pages comes right after the big double page spread. So Tyler and I reused that splash to act as the title page.

This is also last we see of Scritch for awhile. While Ave is busy getting everyone out, Scritch is looting.

Page 32 – 37

This is the big emotional beat of this chapter. It was important to stick the landing.

Originally this scene played out a little differently. It was mostly the same until Ave notices how much Rheebee is bleeding. Then realizes Rheebee would bleed out if Ave lifted the rubble and get crushed if Ave didn’t. But then later Ave is beating herself up over Rheebee’s death when she could do anything either way.

The change to Ave leaving and then pausing to think about the money added more emotional conflict. The decision can represent the conflict what she thinks is the right thing and what her Rheebee wants her to value/can get Ave to a better life. BAM! SYMBOLISM! Rheebee teaching all the kids to value selfishness partly leads to her own death while Rheebee’s mantra “A slow thief is a dead thief” proves to be true.

Rheebee starts with berating Ave but then you know it’s real bad when she is pleading. That needs to be conveyed with dialogue since Ave and the reader can’t see here. So there’s the please that gets Ave to stop thinking about the money.

I love non-talking scenes that convey the emotions. Then the sound of the Stone King lets Ave know she doesn’t have time to properly grieve.  She does keep the money though. Because she’s not entirely leaving Rheebee behind.

Page 38-40

Hey, that glowy spot wasn’t there before!

We get Phul’s second introduction and name. His eagerness to help is bigger the responsibilities he’s being given. It give Ave room to wiggle in and get them to team up.

Page 41 – 45

This is mostly some exposition to get the goal in the story will be. It does a lot of the heavy lifting for explain stuff. The expressions are really important because these long just talking scenes can get very visually boring.

Page 46 – 47

While Ave’s motive is clear at this point, we needed Phul to have a clear reason for going against orders. Giving him a moment to see all the people who are effected helps push him into helping.

Page 48 – 54

This whole chase seen is all Tyler.  I told him would like the chase scene to be more built into the city but he hadn’t completely designed the city. So I told him: It’s a chase scene. At one point Ave runs into Hey You and the kids. One of the kids falls off. Phul saves the kid but puts himself in danger. Ave saves Phul. The details beyond that were up to Tyler. Then when he sent me the pages I went in and added the dialogue.

Writer Notes The Stone King Part 1

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.

Writer Notes Fame and Misfortune Part 3

Continuing my Fame and Misfortune writer notes.

Page 51-54

I don’t know why I keep put car accidents into comics I write AND draw. I did try to push myself with tilting chaotic panels during the car wreck. You can see a tiny glimpse of a motorcycle following the limo. So Fatima isn’t coming out of no where.

page 55-58

This scene sorta, while Rebecca is callous socially, she is at least decent enough to check on everyone including the truck driver. Where as Fatima just recorded Lala vomiting.

I liked drawing the groupies and Lala with mushed makeup and hair after the accident and after Rebecca saves Lala from the jet engine.

The jet engine is again upping the ridiculousness of the curse trying to kill Lala. This is a clue to Rebecca that this isn’t just bad luck. It’s freakishly bad luck.

page 59-61

Marnie is again the person who notices Lee. Now that Rebecca has pieces, she can start to put the mystery together. And Fatima has the rest of what Rebecca needs.

page 62-66

This is clearly some exposition. That establishing shot, I made sure the full moon was visible.

Lala’s bit of sympathy is inspired by a video I saw of Britney Spears where she is high and upset the Spawn movie isn’t in theaters. It was something that was clearly posted to make her look back but what struck me was that someone she trusted filmed her without her knowing and showed her private vulnerable moment to the world without her consent. It’s a clear violation in my mind. Also of Fatima’s other photos and videos of Lala before this have been embarrassing but they weren’t things Lala did in private.  It gives a good line between her and Rebecca.

Then Lala destroys the sympathy moment she has going with a shitty comment so the audience isn’t too broken up about her impending death.

page 67-70

Rebecca and Marnie now begin to investigate. Originally this scene was slightly different and I changed it so Rebecca had to work a little harder to get the name. Marnie also gets to chip in to solving things, since her friend knows Mistress Lala trivia. There is a mistake here though. Since they don’t live in our world I tried to avoid pop culture references. So Lala shouldn’t have a “I won’t grow up” cover. In the omnibus I’ll probably tweak the title.

Page 71-74

I always like how Lee gets summoned up. Lee fulfilling Lala’s wish is an extrapolation of the singers/stars who get talked about a lot all died tragically. So the easiest way for Lala to get remembered is to do the same.

page 75-77

Super dramatic lightly is always fun to do in black and white. Rebecca is covering her nose because of a burnt hair smell. The TV fell in the tube both crushing Lala and electrocuting her.

And then everything wraps up pretty quick with Lala dead.