Hey Mom maybe skip this one okay? 
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<<First Name>> Oh you came and you gave without taking--

- the cox box -

'Sup Milkfedians -- Kit here.

This past spring Kelly Sue taught a comics class at a local college. I wound up TA'ing that class, but I was also sort of taking it, since I was there and also into learning about the comics-writing process. All of this to say: I took a bunch of notes in Kel's comics writing class. I've found them mega-helpful. I suspect some of you guys will also find them helpful, and/or interesting, and/or get a kick out of my sad, sad little stick figures!

  1. Is there a tone that is consistent in their style? Does it work with the story I'm thinking about telling? (If their pages tend to be broody and edgy and you're doing a wacky, lighthearted fantasy piece -- maybe save that collaboration for a different project. Or ask if they have samples in a different style.)
  2. No matter how much you love their pinups, you need to study your artist's sequential pages -- you want to get a sense of how they tell a story. If you get lost or can't follow the action, you should really consider hiring an experienced editor who can help them clarify. You can also help in your scripting style.  
    1. For example: space = both time and significance on a page. Some beginning artists will give the bulk of the real estate to the thing that's the most fun to draw or will look the coolest on the page. You can gently guide them away from this practice by calling the most important panel for the story as the largest.**
    2. (Artists, side note -- downloading scripts by established writers and drawing a page or two from those is great practice, and a good way to produce samples if you don't have them on standby.)
  3. Acting - what are the artist's strengths in communicating expression with faces? Body language?  Bear this in mind as you script.  Asking for a panel that punches in on a facial expression isn't going to serve either one of you if facial acting isn't one of their strengths.
  4. Pacing -- STICK FIGURE ILLUSTRATIONS TIME. I think these guys are fighting with swords? Or butterflies. Anyway: whatever's happening in those inset panels in the example on the left is going to feel like it's happening faster than in the scattered ones on the other page. The "6" on "preferred/default panel count" is a good place to start, but each artist's will be different. (The idea here is: if their pages tend to look crowded over 5 panels, you don't want to write them an action scene made of 7-panel pages. That's mean. Don't be mean.) [Kelly Sue jumping in here: I usually suggest starting action scenes with a base of no more than 3 panels per page (I got that tip from Brubaker) -- set up, strike, recovery. (Think about joke structure.) You can extend the storytelling power of those pages in a couple of different ways, one is to use the background to set up the NEXT page of action (got that tip from Fraction), the other is to use inset panels to call shots (eg. "Look, someone's gonna get his with this pipe next" -- got that tip from Ellis) or give emphasis to blows. I think what those doodles are actually illustrating is how small inset panels can communicate different rhythms, rates of speed, depending on placement.]
  5. Body types. Do they seem to prefer to draw certain types? Do they tend to draw the same ones over and over? Again, doesn't have to be a dealbreaker, but if they default to a shape you'll want to specify when characters aren't shaped that way. (Also, if an artist has a record of doing a lot of body type variety, you fucking GRAB THEM. GRAB THEM AND TREASURE THEM LIKE THE TREASURES THEY ARE.)
*These are questions to consider to help "you," the potential writer, and a potential artist partner decide whether you're a good fit together for a project. If you're doing work for hire and assigned together, the rule of thumb is: look for your artist's strengths and write to those. You should be doing that anyway, actually.
**...don't run with this and start micromanaging. The artist is your collaborator, not your puppet. Get out of their way and don't try to out-design them.
*** ONE LAST NOTE: remember comics are VISUAL. Write for the specific artist you're working with. Ask them what they LIKE to draw. Give them space to do visually interesting things. (If you've absolutely gotta linger on a scene that's, like, a conversation in a diner, look for ways to give the artist freedom so they're not stuck drawing nothing but talking heads back and forth for five pages.)
- kelly sue demonic -

Happy birthday, everybody's Uncle Howard Chaykin!  

I overslept this morning and we're not going to be able to participate in Walk to School Day, so I'm feeling like Mom of the Year right now.  

On the upside, Ms. Wendy is recovered from her surgery and back in the office today (YAY!) and all muh womens are wearing their BP leggings becauuuuuuuuuse the BITCH PLANET VOL 1 is out today* at your local comic shop. (If your shop has got a display, post a pic to Twitter and tag me and I'll signal boost with the shop's address and the tag #NCLCS.)

I'll be at the Floating World Comics Bitch Planet event here in Portland signing and hanging out from 6-8pm tonight. I'll have some foam fingers and other goodies too. (Come see me, then head over to Things From Another World and visit with David Marquez to celebrate the new Iron Man book. Trying to think of things to have you smuggle to David for me. Maybe we'll chop a secret message up into parts or something...?  OH. I might have an idea...)

I'm on the ELEVENTH draft of a thing and I want to put a knife through my temple but I'm going to nail it this time GODDAMMIT... so I need to get back to it.  Before I go, couple of merch questions -- 

1)  We've done Brimper and NC trading pins and we've got ODY-C pins in production. What designs would y'all want for Sat Sam and/or Pretty Deadly?  (We're trying to keep them between 3/4 inch and an inch and a half, so they're the right size for either wearing on lanyards at cons, or on jeans jackets.) You can reply to this email. 

2)  Thinking about doing a Milkfed Society6 store just for mugs and maybe phone cases. We ordered a bunch of mugs from them and we're pretty happy with the quality.  Would y'all be interested in either of those things? (Thinking about #bgsd, the Milkfed logo, GLOW LITTLE SHARK GLOW, NC, Brimper, etc.) 

Oh, and I might be on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED this evening?  I'm not sure. I did the interview yesterday morning. If I sound like an idiot, lie to me okay? 


Kelly Sue 

*and about a billion other books, including Jughead, Paper Girls, the Injection trade and the new Iron Man!

#Retailer Asset Box

ODY-C and Acedia this go round! 

- matt fraction -

Today I had the somewhat unique experience of having completely forgotten about a script. Not that I needed to write it; not that the script was due and there were hungry artist hands out there in the world waiting to make me look like I know what I'm doing; a script I had already written, proofed, sent, and filed. Even as I'm typing this now I have no recollection of writing it. I have no recollection of what might be in it. I have no idea what it's about. Like -- like, I got bad chills. I got cold and weirdly shaky for a second. It's just -- it's just gone.

Lt. Sandwich (hey Lauren I just gave you a nickname if Kit is "Lt. Trouble" you're 'Lt. Sandwich') showed me the dropbox with the drafts -- DRAFTS! -- saved by date. Yep. It's done and written. Fábio's already drawing it, even.

Then I saw the date. It was when I was in North Carolina. It was when we were living in a hospital. It was Dad.

In my notebook I began referring to that time as the z o m b i e   z o n e, like that, all red, weird and spaced out. Hospitals are a  z o m b i e   z o n e. Intensive Care Units are a  z o m b i e   z o n e. This entire summer was a great big fucking z o m b i e   z o n e

I remember I told Dad what I was getting done every day. I'd sit next to him while he tried to sleep and would tap away, waiting for the 6 o'clock shift change every night. And from that   z o m b i e   z o n e   I apparently filed scripts. 

I miss you, Dad. There are down days and more-down days. A friend reached out and said we were in for a shitty year of shitty firsts. He's right.

It's been a month.

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