Landry Walker writes a commentary on his recent A Clash Of Kings #13, on sale now from Dynamite Entertainment.
SPOILERS! Today we’re here to talk about the creepy, creepy nightmare that is Theon Greyjoy attempting to seduce his sister. Admittedly, in the Song of Ice and Fire universe, siblings hook up. But it’s disturbing. And the only saving grace is that Theon also found it disturbing, once he discovered the identity of the woman he was trying to establish said relations with.
Anyway… PAGE 1:
As is often the case, we start off with an establishing shot giving us a sense of location. Note that series artist Mel Rubi chose a borderless and full bleed image to use here. This helps give the image a sense of scope as our mind’s eye sees the image continue off the page. Compare that to how the clearly delineated borders on the rest of the page make everything more intimate – though that’s a terrible choice of words given the last frame. Agh! Stop that, Asha…. You know he’s your brother!!
These talking head shots would all be very boring if there wasn’t a ton of acting built in by the characters. Look on panel 2 how Asha’s gesture jokingly implies her precious sensibilities have been injured, and on panel 4 how the calculating gaze gives us a window into her personality. This continues on through …
PAGE 3, particularly panel 3:
Much of this direction is described in the book itself. But not all of it. When adapting the works of another writer, the goal is to find the intended mannerisms that might occur. Ones that keep the essence of the scene. This is particularly important as I think this issue involved the most cuts out of any to date. My original breakdown for issue 13 was over a 100 pages, and I only have 21 to play with!
Note how we pull away and close the scene on the last panel here. I love how Mel chose to take the characters off panel. Really drives home the closing of the scene. This is vital, as our next page jumps in time.
And check out the lettering technique used by Simon Bowland on the second to last panel. Each balloon stacks just so over the previous.
PAGE 5, panel 4:
We all share your horror, Theon. We all do.
I fought with myself to find a way to keep Theon’s pity party in here. It says a lot about how his ego is being pulled apart, brick by brick. Which helps give us the structure we need later to understand how he takes on such a horrible role within the story.
Somehow, Asha climbing onto the table in the last panel of this page is one of my favorites. Some of the most skilled art – the real test of an artist – isn’t in the flashy splash pages, but instead in the ability to play with depth of field and body language. You look at this panel, and you know EXACTLY what is happening. And really, all you can see is a hand, a foot, and a butt. And yet, it’s conveying a moment of motion and action perfectly
Theon’s flinching from the axe is perfect. The body language of Asha continues to kill. She exudes confidence, and it all appears earned. There’s a savagery about her in the original novel, and Mel and the rest of the team delivered that visually without flaw.
Look at all that lettering. Someone remind me to send Simon a gift basket.
Looking back, I wish we had made the last panel on this page a full bleed. Would have built the impact up and helped the scene transition.
My note on this page was an important one – these two, no matter what else is occurring between them, ARE siblings. Asha DOES care about Theon. The whole thing is a bit of a game for her, but she’s not a monster. We largely know how things unfold for these two, and right here is the moment we can show a small hint of the larger relationship these two share, outside the posturing and pretense.
Panel 1 – Remember what I said about full bleed open panels. This one is AMAZING. Our colorist Ivan Nunes pulls of some brilliant work this issue – the sky in this panel… imagine it empty and blue. That wouldn’t hold the same effect. Time of day is one of our most useful tools in this book, and that means leaning on Ivan a great deal to deliver the tone and atmosphere that helps us see and understand scene changes.
We have seen this kind of moment try and push its way out between Cersei and Tyrion before. They hate each other, but they are still brother and sister. An interesting contrast with the last chapter. This bit was fun to work with, though. Witness through this scene, a glimpse of how Cersei and Tyrion might be to each other if they had been raised in a different world.
But they weren’t, so… you might want to be careful with that wine, Cersei.
Now THAT is the Iron Throne!
It would have been nice to have a two page spread for this scene. But given how much we had to cut, it was a difficult job keeping even the single page splash. It’s not even super text heavy. But if your big moments aren’t big, then no one will feel impact from them.
Mel is starting to explore more break out illustrations within the panel border. A nice way to highlight the character the panel is focusing on and more energy to the talking head image.
We’re back to the lettering. If this wasn’t an adaptation, I’d expect a stern lecture from my editor on the volume of dialog per panel. But this is a prose-focused comic, for fairly obvious reasons. We’re not trying to reinvent the story here, but instead bring it into a visual medium while maintaining the words George R.R. Martin originally wrote. That said, we ARE still in a visual medium. So you have to balance those text heavy panels with relatively light ones, and let the art speak for itself. Tyrion standing in the maester’s bed is a perfect example.
Also, we had to cut a whole bit on how Shagga wants to have sex with the screaming naked lady. The scene was cut due to space, but we keep an allusion to it by having Shagga watch her as she runs away. If you are following the comic after reading the book, you might pick up on that missing bit and feel it is nodded to. Again, trying to maintain as literal a translation as possible here.