Category Archives: blog

Hard SF

“[S]cience fiction is often very far from escapism, in fact you might say that science fiction is escape into reality… It’s a fiction which does concern itself with real issues: the origin of man; our future. In fact I can’t think of any form of literature which is more concerned with real issues, reality.”

— Arthur C. Clarke

Mid-page scene changes

I’ve been away for a week, so I haven’t had a chance to post anything in the blog, but I saw this post ( by Larry Young on Bleeding Cool today and had to comment. He writes:

Don’t switch scenes in the middle of a page. You would think people would know this one, but they don’t. I agree it doesn’t look jarring as you’re writing your script, but the minute an artist starts to draw it, your boat’s leaking water. If you ask the artist to draw an establishing shot on panel three, you’ve lost your way.

I’ve seen this kind of advice before (even from Alan Moore), but frankly it is fucked. For two reasons.

1. Ever read Love and Rockets? Gilbert Hernandez changes scenes whenever the hell he feels like it. And don’t tell me, “But you’re not Gilbert Hernandez.” Of course I’m not. My point is: why stick to this as an absolute rule, when it obviously is NOT one. One can certainly change scenes mid-page if one applies oneself to making it work.

2. As for “establishing shots on panel three,” ever read any Joe Sacco? With comics you can put the establishing shot anywhere on the page because the reader scans / sees (at least unconsciously) the whole page before he reads panel 1. Failure to understand this UNIQUE function of comics is to assume that comics need to function the same way as TV and movies. Here’s a quote from Sacco from an interview in TCJ #301:

One of the great things about comics is that somehow what’s going on in the whole composition can reflect what’s going on in one panel — for example, you could have a picture on the right hand side of the page: it might be an opening scene that gives you a lot of information about where people are, but in the preceeding panels you have people talking that are in the bigger picture. You can rely on the person’s eye, or the way they’re looking at pages next to each other for them to say, “Oh, well, that’s where they’re walking, even though I haven’t gotten to that page yet.”


BONUS: My opinion on thought balloons from a message board post in 2006, in response to something else said by Young.

From: Kumar Sivasubramanian (KUMAR) [#31]
 14 May 2006

Comics are a visual medium, show don’t tell, yada yada yada, I know but… Comics are between books and film (I know how loaded that statement is — don’t hate me!), and sometimes I feel like a comic without thought balloons is like a novel that doesn’t tell you what any of the characters are thinking. There’s an element missing.

Yes, you can show the characters personalities through their actions, but this necessitates that you design proactive characters and avoid passive characters simply because of a formal convention. (Although a comic about a purely passive character might not be such a good idea in the first place.) Or you have to create characters who talk openly about their feelings which again demands you mostly eliminate certain personality types. I mean, can you imagine reading Hate without knowing what Buddy is thinking?! (Maybe this is a bad example as it falls in the comedy category other people have already forgiven.)

And you could say that only villains think but heroes ACT but that makes the heroes sound like unthinking two-fisted morons to me. Peter Parker used to think plenty back in the old days but it didn’t make him any less heroic — maybe even the opposite.

And in terms of the structural changes needed to replace thought ballons: Although I loved Preacher I didn’t entirely like the John Wayne trick of getting around the thought balloons. In Punisher, though, Ennis does an excellent job with captions for present tense thoughts. That’s a-ok in my book. That said, there is still something vaguely less immediate about captioned thoughts — they seem more measured, more contemplative somehow without those bubbles coming straight out of the character’s head.

So I guess the problem with thought balloons is only when they’re badly written (like everything else). I guess you could say they look ugly on the page, but regular old word balloons look pretty ugly too, you know. Personally, I think they’re beautiful — that soft cottony goodness reminds me of Downy.


The Twinkie Defense

“David [Lynch] had trouble with the fact that Star Wars used up so much of Dune. We found sixteen points of identity between my novel and Star Wars. That is not to say this was other than coincidence, even though we figured the odds against coincidence and produced a number larger than the number of stars in the universe.”
— Frank Herbert (1920-1986) from the Introduction to Eye, 1985

 But the problem facing screenwriters recently has been that a guy named George Lucas already wandered through the book. Star Wars borrowed from Dune a lot, Frank Herbert allows. Then he takes the seriousness off it with a hearty chuckle: “And I think that they owe me at least a dinner.”
— from Rolling Stone #436, December 6 1984

After watching the gripping, marvelous, wonderful first season of HBO’s Game of Thrones (I haven’t read the book it’s based on yet, though I was gifted the series) it occurred to me (and I’m probably not the first) that George RR Martin too owes Frank Herbert a Twinkie at least. This is not as unachievable as it sounds since Herbert’s son Brian already dug up his father’s corpse years ago so he could piss and shit all over it. Go on, George! Give the man his Twinkie already!





Great Houses (of the Landsraad) Great Houses of Westeros
Duke Leto, patriarch of House Atreides, reluctantly relocates to Dune on the orders of the Emperor. Ned Stark, patriarch of House Stark, reluctantly relocates to King’s Landing on the orders of the King.
Leto is betrayed and killed on Dune. Ned Stark is betrayed and killed in King’s Landing.
The Fremen (Bedouin): formidable warriors living in the wild desert, viewed as savage / primitive by city dwellers. The Dothraki (Mongols): formidable warriors living on wild plains, viewed as savage / primitive by city dwellers.
Giant Sand Worms Giant Dragons
Paul Atreides, an exiled rightful heir to the ultimate throne, becomes a Fremen leader and will use giant sand worms to attack the capital city from the wilds. Daenerys Targaryen, an exiled rightful heir to the ultimate throne, becomes a Dothraki leader and will use giant dragons to attack the capital city from the wilds.

And if that doesn’t convince you, perhaps this will:




Separated at Birth

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Richard Corben from Creepy #67 (Warren Publications, December 1974)


The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and Richard Corben from Haunt of Horror: Edgar Allan Poe #1 (Marvel Publishing, July 2006)

(Click through to see the images large and joined, for your scholarly edification and Corbenage.)


Captain Marvel

CAPTAIN MARVEL. Debuted 1940, Fawcett Publications: One of my all-time favorite superhero comics.


SHAZAM (formerly known as Captain Marvel). Debuting 2012, DC Comics: …What the fuck?!?!?!


“This is a one-shot from DC’s continuing attempts to drag the Marvel Family into the mainstream as represented by the shared universe of DC Comics superheroes. I’m sure comics like this have an audience that loves them and that some of the creators do a very nice job, but these always seem wrong to me on a fundamental level, like trying to work Big Bird into episodes of Mad Men just because of an accident that gives them shared ownership.”

            — Tom Spurgeon, 25 January 2011 on Shazam #1, 2011.


Alien / Aliens

So, I was looking at BANANA ALIEN today, and it got me musing…


Some things to think about while watching

ALIEN (1979, dir: Ridley Scott)

  • The first time you watch the movie, you think the survivor is going to be the handsome captain played by Tom Skerritt. Instead, it is Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) — a female.
  • The name of the ship’s computer is Mother.
  • Ripley refers to the Alien as “you bitch.”
  • The underside of the facehugger alien looks like a vagina.
  • The function of the facehugger vagina is to impregnate a male.
  • The character Lambert is impaled by the Alien through her vagina.
  • The opening scenes showing the ships halls and cryogenic sleep pods resemble traveling through a birth canal to wombs.
  • The android ash tries to suffocate Ripley with a rolled up (i.e. phallic) skin mag.


Some things to think about while watching

ALIENS (1986, dir: James Cameron)

  • People run around and shoot shit.