Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hump Day Surprise! A few thoughts about Scarlet #1

I wasn't always a fan of comics.

I used to be one of those people who looked down their noses at comics. They weren't real writing, so why waste your time with them? Clearly, I didn't know what the hell I was talking about.

I first started reading comics back around the time that horrible travesty otherwise known as The Phantom Menace came out. I was a pretty big Star Wars fan boy back then and I heard they were coming out with a comic about one of those fascinating side characters (Ki Adi Mundi) that Lucas dreamed up but did absolutely nothing with. So I bought it.

And the rest is history.

Now I read a lot of comics and I have been anticipating the release of Scarlett ever since I first heard about it. I may not be a Star Wars fan boy anymore, but I am a big fan of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.

So without further ado…

This book is a jewel. From the opening page to the last, this book rocks.

As I have become a better novelist, I have learned to better appreciate and recognize good writing in all forms. As an avid comic reader, I have learned how difficult it is to write a good story in the graphic novel medium. Comics writers don't get to write exposition. They can't explain how a character feels, they have to show us. They do this through dialogue, but also through layout; setting up panels, their content, character placement, etc. This makes the artist as much responsible for the success of a comic as the writer.

We novelists have it easy. We can paint a setting through exposition, and then turn around and tell you exactly how a character feels. Comic writers provide a brief description of all this and then turn it over to the artist. Talk about scary! Fortunately, Bendis and Maleev are both masters.

Don't get what I'm talking about? Well check this out. Here's the setup: Scarlett just killed a cop and she's trying to decide how she feels about that.

© 2010 Jixworld Inc.

That is mastery. Any novelist would be estatic to convey a moment as well as Bendis and Maleev do in these two frames and those handful of words.

Go buy it. You won't be disappointed.


Jon said...

I'm gonna. Tomorrow. I forgot it last week. Did you start reading Ultimate Spider-man yet? I'm telling you, it's the most consistantly entertaining superhero book out there...

Mark Teats said...

I'll have to pick it up. Sounds great!

Also, I took a graphic novel course not long ago and found out how much work it is to try to condense all the content of a novel page (or two) into comic frames. I found it very difficult compared to the verbose freedom of novel where I can ramble on with paragraph after paragraph of description and internal dialogue. I definitely appreciate comic artists and writers and their art form.