“Marvel Style”…at DC

I gleaned this from a Newsarama interview with Keith Giffen and Dan DiDio, talking about their collaborative approach to writing and drawing O.M.A.C.

“Giffen: Where we are when it comes to doing O.M.A.C. is somewhere midway between full script and “Marvel style.” [snip]

Nrama: You’re doing something similar with Dan [Jurgens] on Superman, where you’re doing the dialogue after the art is done, right?

Giffen: Yeah. One of the things I know that DC has been pushing and would like to get back into is that kind of collaboration. A close collaboration.”

And a bit later, DiDio states:

“Just purely about how, when we were approaching the New 52, we really wanted a better synthesis between the artist and the writer, really working together as a team, as a tandem…”

Anyone who’s been watching DC’s evolution over the last few years can spot the trend of the publisher wanting more writer/artists creating their books, mainly by promoting their regular artists into the writer spot (one might say to the detriment of other writers, both veterans and up-and-comers…) But Giffen’s comment seems to speak to an initiative for a more plot/art/dialogue approach to creating comics, much like the old “Marvel style.”

I do like this approach, at least in theory. It tends to promote a more cohesive vision between the writer and artist, and I’ve certainly had some great experiences working in this style with a few collaborators (mainly fellow Columbusite and PANEL Collective member Andy Bennett). On the other hand, it can become a nightmare for the writer if the artist decides to go off on their own and just draw whatever they want, without much regard to the plot. Think late 80s/early 90s and the rise of the Image artists at Marvel, where veteran writers like Chris Claremont and Peter David had to rewrite entire issues after they saw what their artists decided to do with their original plots.

Anyway, I’ll be curious to see how many books in DC’s lineup adopt this trend.

Neon Talking Super Street Bat Luge…Activate!

I never got into the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series as the show was a bit too campy for my tastes. Not that I had anything against it. I think it was a fun cartoon and certainly found an audience of fans both young and old. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

However, by coincidence I caught this week’s episode, which just happened to be the series finale. And wow, what an amazing ending to a fun, wacky show! Titled “Mitefall,” it featured Batmite, the imp from the 5th dimension with an unhealthy obsession with Batman, trying to get the “goofy” show cancelled to make room for a darker, edgier, “more dramatic” Batman series. Fanboy stand-in, anyone?

Anyway, Batmite’s strategy is to alienate the show’s viewing audience by making it “jump the shark” (which he does both literally and figuratively). He gives Batman a precocious little daughter, a Scrapy-Doo like canine sidekick, switches Aquaman’s voice actor to Ted McGinley, and introduces several ridiculous Batman outfits based on the toy lines we’re all familiar with (things like arctic explorer Batman). Oh, and then there’s the aforementioned Neon Talking Super Street Bat Luge.

Series writer Paul Dini turned in a fantastically subversive, self-referential script, both acknowledging and ridiculing many of the real world entertainment and business aspects of a show like this. I’m talking about demographics, toy lines, ad executives, ratings, etc. The episode wasn’t just meta, it was hyper meta.

Oh, and it also featured Ambush Bug.

Anyway, whether you were a fan of the show or not, I’d highly recommend this episode, if only for the in-jokes and meta-commentary. And the faux new Batman CGI cartoon hinted at in the end.

Bonus for Craig: in the opening sequence, Batman teams up with Abraham Lincoln to defeat a steampunk John Wilkes Booth!

DC Nation on Cartoon Network

Did you catch the teaser trailer during the Green Lantern animated show for the “DC Nation” block of shows coming to the Cartoon Network in 2012? If not, check it out below:

They showed one of the Aardman claymation Batman shorts, and it was charming. I’m digging the various animation styles featured in the trailer above, too. And there’s a Doom Patrol clip in there as well! Maybe it’ll be on the Young Justice show? Or a short? Whatever the case may be, I’m excited for this block of DC Comics-related animation.

PS. The Green Lantern show was pretty good, with solid writing and great action sequences. Too bad the CG animation style is a big turn off for me; they look like inflated plastic toys.

My Spectre story in DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 #1

December 8, 2010 saw the release of my first work as a writer for DC Comics, in the form of an 8-page Spectre story in the DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 #1. (Aside to FOX “News”: yes, that’s right. Holiday Special. Not Christmas Special. Because all your fears were correct, there really is a War on Christmas (TM) and guess who contributed to it? Me. An Iranian! Gasp! And my story deals with Norouz, the Persian New Year. So yes, feel free to invite me to one of your fine programs and browbeat and berate me in the name of saving America and its children. Any of them will do, The Hannity Factor, or Glenn O’Reilly, or any of the half dozen shows hosted by Fox Interchangeable Attractive Blonde Female Reporter Standard Model #B-726.)

Er, sorry. Where was I? Oh right, the DC Holiday Special. It’s a one-shot, costs $5, and in it you’ll find six 8-page stories featuring various DC Universe characters from different timelines dealing with an aspect of the season. And it’s all wrapped up under a nice Matt Haley cover:

DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2010 #1

Written by DAN ABNETT & ANDY LANNING, SETH ALBANO, TONY BEDARD, JOEY CAVALIERI, KEVIN GREVIOUX and DARA NARAGHI
Art by RENATO ARLEM, ROBERTO CASTRO, RICHARD & TANYA HORIE, CARLO SORIANO and more
Cover by MATT HALEY

From the dawn of time (Anthro) to the far-flung future (Legion of Super-Heroes), sentient life has honored the winter holidays with celebrations and rituals as diverse as the universe itself! Join DC Comics – and a stellar team of writers and artists – to honor the vast and diverse holidays of the DC Universe in 6 tales of holiday cheer! Starring the aforementioned characters along with Superman, The Spectre, Jonah Hex, and Green Lantern John Stewart for a HOLIDAY SPECIAL like no other!

So I thought it would be fun to show a tiny bit of the process behind creating my story. We’ll just look at the first page. First up, my script for page 1:

Suggested Page Layout: 1 x 1

PANEL 1: Wide/Large, about 3/4 page. We open with a dramatic shot of The Spectre flying high over Tehran, Iran. It’s a sunny spring day, with the clear blue sky and the snow-capped mountain range in the background nicely juxtaposed against the densely populated urban sprawl below. (References: with mountains here and here, without mountains here)

1. Masthead/Logo: The Spectre

2. Caption (credits): “The Gift”
Dara Naraghi – Writer, etc.

3. Caption: Tehran, Iran. On the eve of the vernal equinox.

4. Caption (Crispus): Being what you’d call a non-believer, the holidays, to me, were always more about spending time with family than anything else.

5. Caption (Crispus): But after my death, they lost even that meaning.

6. Caption (Crispus): So this year, I ditched the painful memories at home for the far corners of the world. I’ve been at it for a few months.

PANEL 2: Wide. The Spectre is now “landing” on a busy street in a rich part of town, lined with high-end stores and boutiques. Show several young, attractive, trendy Iranian women carrying shopping bags. (References: here and here) Also show a beggar sitting on the sidewalk, panhandling.

7. Caption (Crispus): Guess there are a few perks to being The Spectre’s human host. No borders. No jet lag.

8. Caption (Crispus): And apparently no need for a Farsi translator. I understand what everyone around me is talking about.

9. Caption (Crispus): From the rich…

10. Caption (Crispus): …to the poor.

You’ll notice a lot of “here” and “here” talk in the descriptions. That’s where I linked to URLs of photo references for the artist in my Word document; I just didn’t reproduce them in the sample above.

Anyway, next step is the pencils, which were provided by Tom Derenick:

The pencils were then inked by Norm Rapmund, and a proof of the initial lettering was done, in this case featuring the lettering of Travis Lanham:

And finally, here’s the finished page, including colors by Chris Beckett. You’ll notice some of the lettering on the story title was tweaked from the previous stage:

And of course, editor Mike Carlin guided the whole book through from start to finish, assisted by Rachel Gluckstern. So there you have it, the magic of comic book creation, demystified.

The only small downer is that a couple of lettering mistakes that were caught during the production phase somehow didn’t get corrected before printing, and ended up in the final product. Oh well, nothing can be done about it now. I’m still quite happy with the story, and hope you’ll enjoy it as well.

So if you picked up the book, drop me an email or leave a comment below and share your thoughts. What worked and what didn’t? I’d love to hear from you.