Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tales from the Drunk Side: Comic Speech

Struggling writer Amir Hafizi takes another swig from the bottle in front of him.

Liquid fire travels down his throat. His blood six parts Dry Vermouth, one part gin.

A guy plonks himself beside him.

"What's up, Amir?"

"I'm fine, Jim. Where's John?"

"I thought his name was Jack?"

"You can call him John... if you know him as well."


"Save it, kid. That's from a movie."

"Say, I've been meaning to ask you. Why do you read comics?"

I eased my feet on Jim's head. This is gonna be a long one.

"See, Jim, comics, is a very cinematic medium."

"How so? I only have seen Sin City and that just means that Frank Miller's work is actually a storyboard. That's all."

"Well, yes, but if you want to learn about cinematic writing, aside from watching movies, reading comics is the best way."


"Panelling in comics have come a long way. It used to be straightforward. Now, we have dynamic panelling, the Marvel way, the DC kata as well as different writers and artists going for different methods."

"Oh really?"

"Yes. See Grant Morrison's work. He concentrates on angles. Take a scene, set-it up in the script, and then choose one angle that would be dramatic and creative. He also goes for jumps in the time sequence. Say, a handshake. From which angle and at which point in time do you choose to show the handshake? For what purpose? Impending doom? Developing trust?"


"Fuck you. Listen. Brian Michael Bendis is the best noir writer in comics today. His set-up for the mood is impeccable. The city, individual buildings are alive with character. They reek of character. They are dripping with character. Frank Miller only does gritty stuff. He does it well, but he's not flexible. With Bendis, you can have a page full of colour, but it's still noir. Still David Lapham noir."

"Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. Russo. Whatever. 100 Bullets. They employ the most creative angling and viewpoint I have seen in new comics. Imagine setting dialogue and scene from the reflection of a metallic toaster. Text in smoke. Lots of silence. Just shadows on the eyes. Shadows on the eyes always work, and that came from movies. Whenever they introduce a character in movies, and he comes from the shadows, that is signifying that you can't trust this motherfucker. This guy is dangerous. So it is inter-connected."

"And then, the classics - Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman. Moore details everything in his script, even to the brand of the shoes used, and full newspaper articles which may just be too small in a page to read, unless you have telescopic vision. That's dedication to art, my friend."

"And Gaiman, Gaiman is an art forger. My kind of writer. He can impersonate Miller, Moore, Kane, Lee, Moorcock, whoever he wishes to. He is a copy ninja."

"With Alex Ross, it's always dramatic and detail together. Cause he's a painter. He sees pages, perhaps, not as a collection of panels, but as giant paintings. It works, actually, though those of lesser talent could never do a Ross."

"So you see, comics are cinematic. Just that film is 26 frames per second, and comics has perhaps 26 pages. You do the animating, special effects and motion capture in your heads."

I finish my speech, to find Jim asleep. In fact, everyone in a 100 metre radius is asleep.

Oh well. I do leave a trail of destruction, sometimes. I paid my tab and I left. Time to go home, I guess.