Writer’s Commentary: David Avallone Talks Bettie Page #7

Dynamite has sent us a new writer’s commentary from David Avallone for Bettie Page #7. This issue has covers by Joseph Michael Linsner and Scott Chantler with interiors by Esau Figueroa.

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Bettie in France, continued! Many spoilers ahead, so read the issue first and then come back for the behind-the-scenes story.

The covers:
In the “A” cover, Bettie gets purple highlights from Joseph Michael Linsner, and breaks hearts the easy way. The “B” cover, by Scott Chantler, is typically hilarious and fun. Note the cameo by Alfred Hitchcock, and the cigar-smoking photographer having a coronary in the foreground, as his worried colleague looks on. This cover was, once again, produced in advance of the script being finalized, and influenced the title.

Page 1:
Bettie and Lyssa deal with a change in plans. I did an extensive poll of Southern friends to find out if “do what, now?” was an expression their parents used, so I could put it in Bettie’s mouth in panel six. Apparently it does go back to the 1950s.

Pages 2–3:
Always good to start off with a bang. The idea of an alien artifact from the Tunguska explosion was something I put in an unsold sci-fi script ages ago. The script never sold, so it shows up here.

In the original script it was the “Tunguska Chip”, but Esau drew a star, in particular the same star as Bettie’s old necklace, and I was embarrassed I hadn’t thought of that myself. So it becomes the Tunguska Star.

Pages 4–5:
I wanted to give Bettie a moment to think about how much she’s changed since issue one, and this was a good spot for it.

Pages 7–9:
Bettie faces off against another model-turned-agent.

Alyoshka is the name of a Russian girlfriend I had in college, and she’s visually modeled a little bit on Natassja Kinski.

Page 10:
The best hotels in Cannes all seem to have these balconies out front, and that felt like a good escape route. I can also think of a couple of Cary Grant movies from the period where he does something like this.

Page 11:
Matt Gaudio takes up the art for the rest of the issue, blending well with Esau’s work on the first half of the book.

Pages 12–13:
The return of my college drama professor Endré, as a Soviet film director who shares his first name, and secret NKVD agent.

Big Bettie Page fans, who might know our girl well enough to know she never drank, might be able to guess that she’s not ordering that drink because she’s thirsty.

Page 14:
I am a big fan of the “you and what army” joke, and its many variations. I’m also fond of the “homemade flamethrower” trick.

Pages 15–16:
Lyssa throws “do what, now?” back at Bettie, as we jump into the speedboat chase.

When I mentioned that I was setting this story on the Riviera, my old friend Tom Scott demanded a Chris Craft speedboat make an appearance, and that gave me the idea for this sequence. Everybody likes a speedboat chase, right? Except the henchmen, who maybe have a bad feeling about how it’s going to go for them. Hat tip to FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and LIVE AND LET DIE for inspiring speedboat chase scenes.

Pages 17–19:
Gasoline is unpredictable sometimes. The gas itself isn’t so dangerous. But the fumes …

Page 20:
The festival organizer uses McKnight’s cover name… George Kaplan, the fake CIA agent from NORTH BY NORTHWEST. And for your cliffhanger … the return of Benway!

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.