By Josh Hechinger
Welcome to From Strip to Script, where I take a page of finished comic art and try to derive a script from it, to see what I can learn from the exercise.
Because I am fundamentally cheap and inpatient, I’ve always been a big proponent of digital comics; not paying for a print run and being able to put out work almost as it’s completed is my jam, as the kids today say.
So, coming at it from the cheapie perspective, I’m always interested in seeing how the bigger companies approach digital. Not just in terms of how they put out their ongoing material and back-catalogues, but especially what they do for digital-first material.
And while I haven’t had a whole lot of time for DC’s output in the past couple few years, their moves in the digital landscape are always particularly interesting to me, from their Zuda program (which me and current Hot Talent John Bivens did a thing for, waybackwhen) to their current approach of doing a variety of media tie-in and out-of-continuity anthology comics as digital-first, with print issues and collections following.
(Also, the fact that they’ve stuck with their horizontal half-page this long is oddly charming to me? I’m weird, though.)
Maybe it’s because of the lower initial overhead/loss leading nature of doing digital-to-print, but DC’s digital line seems a little less…precious? self-serious? than the print one has been in the recentish past. Things seem a little freer to get weird and…well, not experimental-in-terms-of-the-medium, but certainly experiemential-in-terms-of-who-a-big-company-lets-work-on-their-IP? And that’s always fun to see.
Like, for example, when Beto did a Wonder Woman story, part two of which I’m going to look at here.
(“Beto” being Gilbert Hernandez, of Love & Rockets fame, joined here by John Rauch on colors.)
PAGE TWENTY-ONE (THREE Panels)
P1. WW chucks the hapless GRO-BOT into orbit.
– WW Up, up, and away!
P2. She winces and rubs her throwin’ shoulder.
– WW It should be bouncing off a satellite and back here in a minute or so.
– WW Oof, pulled that one.
P3. She walks around, hands on her lower back, stretching slightly as she looks thoughtfully into the middle distance.
– WW So I’m the most powerful Earth-born human on the planet?
– WW Never thought about it.
– WW Never had to.
So, What’d We Learn?
– I mean, thing one is just that if I was writing for a cartoonist of Hernandez’ caliber, I’d just stay the hell out of the way as much as possible.
– A thing I like about this page is that Wonder Woman’s never quite still. She’s always doing something, throwing a robot into space, working out her kinks (no joke intended) in every panel. Look at the way the background changes from 2-3; even though she looks like she’s standing and staring in 3, the background change indicates she’s probably been pacing around.
– Similarly, WW is downright chatty on this page, thinking out loud with a kind of brisk, blunt tone that I really dig. The constant light patter is very comic book-y, in a delightful way: there’s a constant motion to the story, things are always happening.
(That said, the next starts with a beautiful panel of WW sitting serenely on a rock, waiting for the robot to fall back to earth.)
– How gorgeous are those skies? Well done, John Rauch…