Wednesday, December 17, 2008
So I'm knee deep onto the first issue of Not Fade Away, working on page 18 as we type. It's a fairly nondescript page(illustration-wise) featuring a section of a conversation between Wes and Illyria. The real challenge for me so far on this book has been trying to stage the action in a somewhat original way. The episode itself is so well crafted that the angles and shots employed by the director(Jeff Bell) for any given scenario tend to be the best and most obvious choices in each instance. So I'm left with the question, do I use the same shot used in the episode, or try and come up with my own method for staging the scene? How much should I tinker, if at all? I'd certainly rather draw each piece using my own storytelling and pacing, but I still have to serve the script and intent of the writers. Also, I'm sure the readers of the book aren't going to simply want a shot by shot reconstruction of the episode(which isn't really a legitimate concern in this instance, since we'd need a lot more than three issues to pull that off), but that said there are certain beats and images from the episode that you most certainly have to hit.
The settings have to remain the same as the episode, since the locations aren't changing and neither is what happens.
So where I'm finding that I can express myself most is in the shot choice and pacing on any given page. To (literally)illustrate my point: Panel 1 on this page was described thusly in the script:
Illyria touches her bandage while Wes approaches her with another.
1. ILLYRIA: Then why—
2. WESLEY: Don't I go off and have one last perfect day? Smell the flowers, or sky-dive, or have a go with Mistress Spanks-A-Lot... or whatever the hell one is supposed to do in this situation.
3. ILLYRIA: Mistress Who?
In the episode, we see Wes approach Illyria as she sits on the bed, the camera behind Wes so we can see her front and his back.
I thought that maybe it would be cool to see the expression on Wes' face as he speaks, and Illyria's reaction, as opposed to just Illyria's face, so I shot it from over Illyria's shoulder.
The next panel description reads:
Wes applies another bandage to Illlyria.
4. WESLEY: There is no perfect day for me, Illyria. There is no sunset or painting or finely-aged scotch that's going to sum up my life and make tonight any... There is nothing that I want.
5. ILLYRIA: You want to be with Fred.
In this instance, I stuck pretty much with the kind of shot employed in the episode, as we need that close up of Wes as he delivers such a heart-breaking line. No room for me to mess around with this, nor did I want to. The one thing I did was to widen the shot to include Illyria's noggin.
Wesley has finished with Illyria, and is wiping his hands on a hand towel. Illyria is looking down as she speaks.
6. WESLEY: Yes. Yes, that's where I'd be if I could.
7. ILLYRIA: I could assume her shape, make her come alive again this once for you…but you would never ask me to.
In the episode, we have fairly wide medium shot of both Wes and Illyria as they converse, as well as intermittent close ups on Illyria . I chose however to focus more on Illyria's downcast, cold expression(as well as drawing it from a slightly different angle to increase the sadness a little)as she makes the offer she knows Wes won't accept. Once we continue to establish Wesley's proximity to her by showing his hands in the foreground our staging is fine. I wanted the emphasis here to be Illyria as opposed to the both of them.
Wesley speaks to Illyria kindly while Illyria touches her bandaged neck.
8. WESLEY: The first lesson a watcher learns is to separate truth from illusion. Because in the world of magics, it's the hardest thing to do. The truth is that Fred is gone. To pretend anything else would be a lie. And since I don't actually intend to die tonight, I won't accept a lie. Is it better?
9. ILLYRIA: It's better.
In the episode, Wesley has stepped away from Illyria slightly as he delivers this speech, and the camera focuses on him. I liked the idea of having Wes lean in and say it softly to her in a warm way, a little more affectionately. I want to be able to feel the tension between the characters.
So that's a few examples of how I'm trying to bring a little of my own personality to the proceedings. To be honest on this particular page I changed things up quite a bit, as I didn't think it was making anything less powerful than it had been in the ep. With most pages I can play around with two or three panels, and otherwise stick fairly rigorously with the shots from the episode. On one or two occasions I was loathe to change anything at all because it was all shot so perfectly, maybe just pulling the camera back to incorporate more of the setting, or slightly changing the acting or some such.
Its a tricky process, and lord knows how difficult it is for Scott to try and break such a dense episode down and then squeeze everything into 60-odd pages, while all the time letting the right scenes breathe and in some instances(this is where the real fun begins) extending and embelishing. I can't wait for some of the stuff he has planned, where we delve that little bit deeper into some particularly favoured scenes...
Anyhoo, sorry about the post being so long-winded, thought it might be interesting for folks out there to have a little window into the proceedings.