I’ve been penciling away on the next tale so that Mercy’s stories won’t miss a beat when the star-spanning Jekka adventure wraps up ( just about a month from now). Next up: a change-of-pace tale as Mercy returns to New Gelaph’s shadowy streets for some terse, hard-hitting crime action. Above are a few panels from the work-in-progress.
Posts Tagged ‘action’
Well, no one was more surprised than I to learn that two incredibly supportive Trekker fans have launched a podcast where they discuss all the Trekker stories. Trekker Talk takes one story per installment and goes over it in thoughtful depth and detail. They also have fun contests and other ways to engage with their listeners. It’s flattering if a bit disorienting to know that the series has inspired that kind of enthusiastic support, and I’m very grateful to the couple, whom I have met at convention appearances over the last couple of years, that has taken the time and energy to put this together. I hope you’ll give it a listen! I’m sure they’d love to hear from many other readers.
Not only is it exciting to have the podcast out there as a way to celebrate the series, I’m equally grateful for its presence as another way that people might come to her about Mercy St. Clair for the first time.
As passionate as I am about producing the series and getting it out to as many readers as possible, I feel far from equal to the task of doing so on my own. Having readers who are willing to jump in and come up with creative ways to help spread the word– whether that’s by launching a podcast, or sharing a post, or talking up Mercy’s adventures at a local comic shop– is a tremendous boost, and allows me to return to the drawing board with even greater energy than before. So, thanks to Ruth and Darrin, and to all of you who help to keep Trekker thriving!
An action sequence in comics presents great opportunities and some particular challenges for the artist and the storyteller.
For the artist, it’s a chance to play with pacing– elongating a brief moment by slicing it up in to several small panels is the equivalent to switching into “slow-motion”, for instance. It’s a chance to show off your dynamic figure-drawing skills. Nothing tests an artist’s understanding of anatomy, construction and how a figure moves in three-dimensional space quite as thoroughly as does a vitally active sequence. For the storyteller, it’s both an opportunity and an obligation to convey frenetic, chaotic action while still keeping the story clear. If you’ve ever suffered through a scene in a movie that is so poorly shot and/or edited that the action is unclear and you simply can’t follow what is happening, then you have experienced a failure of storytelling. If you have to ask yourself. “what’s going on here?” then you are no longer experiencing a story, you are trying to solve a puzzle. A puzzle created unintentionally by someone breaking the rules of storytelling.
The best way I know to approach this particular challenge is to think of an action scene as something to be choreographed– where you are staging the figures to flow from one image to the next just as you would if you were blocking out a dance sequence. This keeps the thread– the through line– of the action clearly in focus. With that as your foundation, the particular details of the action– racing through a dangerous landscape, guns blazing, blows landing, etc– add drama and texture to the scene without ever confusing the unfolding events. It also allows you to move the “camera” around throughout the sequence to choose the clearest and most compelling angle for each shot, without ever being in danger of confusing the reader. If, on the other hand, the storyteller focuses on the particular details of an action sequence–a particularly cool explosion, or an awesome piece of high-tech gadgetry, or the blood splattering from an open wound, they run the risk of distracting the reader from the on-rushing flow of events and the action sequence is reduced to bits of drawing. Often luridly graphic and self-indulgent drawing at that.
Another value in keeping that through-line of action clear is that it frees the storyteller from the need to clutter up a scene with unnecessary dialog. If you find yourself compelled to add dialog to explain or enhance the drama of an action sequence, chances are strong that you have used poor choreography in blocking out the scene and you are now reduced to applying “bandages” which will largely prove both awkward and ineffectual. Best to go back and re-stage the action to stand on its own.
This is not to say all copy is unwelcome in action scenes, of course. With Trekker, I’ve often used narrative captions to underscore or counterpoint the action. Dialog, internal or external, can be used to further reveal character or introduce subtext to an otherwise straight-forward action scene. (Jekka’s narrative captions at the beginning of the current fight sequence on page 37, “…there was blood… there was definitely blood” are intended to underscore that while for Mercy and the adults such events are familiar, Jekka remains a youth who is being exposed to some horrors for the first time.The task was to make this point without having to pull away from the main action to do so. That would have arrested the forward momentum of things at a horribly wrong time. So these captions serve the point while allowing Mercy to continue her deadly motions uninterrupted.)
Depending on how “realistically” you want the scene to read, you have to judge how much talking can go on in the midst of frantic action, but at times it is well-justified– as long as it serves the needs of your story. The “rules” I try to play by in Trekker are different from those in some other stories where the bounds of realism can be stretched pretty far without eroding the story. Spider-man’s playful banter in the old Lee comics seemed in keeping with his improbable and fantastic setting. It was almost like he was entering a separate reality when he switched identities from the care-warn, clearly recognizable everyday world of Peter Parker. But that’s a different story, and a different blog post. For Trekker, I’m hoping to stick closer and more consistently to a world that, while perhaps slightly “enhanced” never drifts into the mythic land of the superhero.
Much more to come as “Jekka” continues to unfold. The “red alert” may be about to die down, but the action becomes even deadlier for Mercy and company. Stay tuned!
With “The Train to Avalon Bay” we open a new chapter in the story of Mercy St. Clair in more ways than one. First, it marks the beginning of the all-new, never-before published Trekker stories (and please note “Avalon Bay” begins being serialized THIS MONTH in the pages of Dark Horse Presents #24!). That’s important news for long-time Trekker fans who have been waiting patiently for me to pick up the tale from where it left off years ago, when “Trial By Fire” first appeared as a stand-alone issue from Image Comics. And it’s important for me, personally, because with this story I finally make good on all the promises I’ve made to fans over the years about my intentions to get back to Trekker. And it also marks the return to what has always been far and away my most rewarding and meaningful project. And for readers both old and new, “Avalon Bay” will mark another significant development in the lives of Mercy and her world.
While this tale was primarily designed years ago to re-introduce Mercy after yet another in the long breaks in her appearances, it was also planned from the beginning to be a next step in “upping the ante” in Mercy’s emotional life, and also to set the stage for events which will pull Mercy into a broader, more complicated and dangerous world than she has yet encountered. All of that is a long way down the road at this point, but I can promise you, the tracks are all laid out, the hammers are ringing and the nails are going down. We’ll hit some bumps and detours along the way to keep the journey surprising and interesting for both you and me, but we’re bound for new, broad and exciting horizons. All aboard!!
We’re about to kick into a new era at Trekkercomic.com! Next week, “Trial By Fire” comes to its somber conclusion. And in doing so, it sets the stage for the launch on the following Monday, May 13 of “The Train to Avalon Bay”, the first of the brand-new, never-before-seen stories that will continue Mercy’s adventures. This is an event I have planned for from the day I launched the website, and I couldn’t be happier to be picking up Mercy’s story right where “Trial” leaves off. With Jeremy Colwell on board for the colors, and Ken Bruzenak contributing his flare with the lettering, the new tales get off to a great start. In the story, Mercy and Molly depart for a “vacation”, but it wouldn’t be a Trekker story if things didn’t soon go horribly wrong. In the end, there’s a race against death, another emotionally wrenching conclusion for Mercy, and wheels are put in motion that will have life-changing consequences for our favorite bounty hunter. You will want to be here!
Meanwhile, the TREKKER OMNIBUS, collecting all of the tales features to this point on the website, is coming the August from Dark Horse and me– new color, extra features and all. I hope you’ll order it on line or pick it up from your favorite comic shop. The terrific Gail Simone foreword is worth the price of admission by itself, and if you’re a Trekker fan at all, this collection is built to satisfy!