I’ll be posting along these lines (‘Process’) irregularly as we continue on Lady S’s voyage. Mostly, this is my wool-gathering about learning to work in this new (to me) medium, as well as talking about how I go about writing – Lady Sabre specifically, all things generally. World-building is worthy of its own sub-category, I imagine, and that’s something I may tackle later down the road.
These are open posts, and questions are definitely encouraged.
Thoughts for today:
This is my first webcomic. Those of you who read webcomics regularly will no doubt have already been able to tell, simply from a storytelling standpoint.
One of the first things that Rick, Eric, and I discussed when this project got rolling was the publishing schedule. This was something we went around and around about for months, pretty much up until launch this past Monday, and it’s something I’m sure we’ll be revisiting again…and again…and again. Trying to figure out how much to post when, how many screens per week, what screens, what beats, etc, etc, etc.
Both Rick and I come from a print comics background, obviously. That’s a very different scripting and storytelling style, and it’s obviously the one that we’re both the most comfortable with. That said, we knew going in that this was a different beast, and that the medium would allow for a different manner of storytelling. Primarily, we saw it as providing different visual-storytelling opportunities (this will become clearer in the coming weeks as the story allows us to try different things). Rick jumped on this, and I think was the first of us to really see the possibilities.
My process has likewise been evolving – and writing, in my opinion, is a constantly evolving process – for this project. You’ll see, as we continue, the scripting style change from the first chapter to the second to the third. What works in a script for a printed comic is not always the best fit for the web, something that I’m still grappling with. This is nowhere more evident to me than in the matter of pace. Right now, the pace – screen to screen – is still very reminiscent of print. Chapter Three – and yes, that’s a ways away, and hopefully you’ll still be here when we get there – is stylistically very different than Chapters One and Two.
I bring this up because, if you looked at the script for today’s screen, you’ll see that the panel numbers start “higher” than on the screen posted Monday; today, we begin with panel four, rather than panel one. In essence, Rick took what would’ve been a double-page in print and broke it into two discreet screens for the web. This is called learning.
There’s the additional wrinkle of lead-time; we never want to miss a “new screen day,” and – as both Rick and I are working on several other projects currently – that has meant ‘banking’ screens as far in advance as possible. This in turn means that my education, rapid though it may be offline, appears closer to glacial here on the site. For the purposes of storytelling in the first two chapters, I don’t think it hurts us, but it will be interesting to see how the narrative is reading come, say, October.
One more thought:
I hate, with a passion, the term “decompressed storytelling.” The inherent implication is that the writer is wasting time, and I, personally, never waste time in my stories. If someone finds the narrative too slow, well, then they find it too slow. I don’t write anything without a good reason, without a purpose, and many times – especially in serial narrative – that purpose is going to be unknown to the reader in the first instance. But I make my choices with malice aforethought, or, to brutalize one of my favorite Raymond Chandler quotes, “When I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it shall stay split.”
One of the delights, for me, in this format is the ability to allow story to ‘accrue.’ I like the pacing this format affords. Right now, we’re still getting our legs beneath us, and the steps are tentative, even amateurish. What excites me – and frustrates me – is the learning curve. Excites, because it’s the opportunity to discover and hopefully master a whole new manner and means of storytelling; frustrates because lead-time demands that it will always be a while before each new discovery is unveiled.