In Part 1 of “From Concept to Page – How A Comic Is Made” we saw how artists Tony Akins and Cliff Chiang developed the look of some monsters and gods for the new Wonder Woman series with the help of the writer on the book, Brian Azzarello. We also got a behind the scene look at how Azzarello helped fine tune the concept presented to him by Matt Idelson from DC Comics. What comes next is the work of Jared Fletcher (letterer) and Matt Wilson (colorist) as they collaborated with the artists and the writer to bring Wonder Woman #0 (and some of the issues that followed) to comic book fans everywhere. So let’s continue our journey from concept to page as it was presented at the New York Comic Con last weekend.
Wonder Woman #0 was, if you are not aware, an origin story for the New 52. However, the artists and writer wanted it also to be a throwback. As you will soon see, they started that introduction – in every aspect of the book’s creation – from page one. The image on the left is Cliff Chiang’s layout for the first page as he sent it to Brian Azzarello. Here’s what he said about his research and epiphany from it:
After looking at some old Thor comics I realized we needed a banner at the top explaining who the character is. Then we needed some crazy big logo that just screamed, from the first page, that you are reading something different; that you are not reading a modern comic, necessarily; or that we are doing that is looking at the past. and Brian seemed to like it.
Azzarello confirmed that he “liked it a lot” and even Tony Akins chimed in with, “I knew right away this was going to be a stellar issue.”
The image on the right is Chiang’s inks of the page. One member of the panel asked why he inked the banner in. “The banner, I thought, needed that hand-drawn quality to it.”
Matthew Wilson said that when it came time to color, his input in tone-setting came in the form of palette choice.
In the beginning we discussed we would maybe try to do an older-looking style of coloring, but we decided not to go that way. So, in the end, I just made some considerations for the palettes in spots to be a little brighter.
One panel member noted the use of primary colors on that first page which helped to sell the feel everyone was going for.
Jared Fletcher’s work on this project as letterer wasn’t new to him, but that didn’t mean that it was easy!
This was basically me doing my Artie Simek impersonation… He’s one of my favorites. I’ve worked in this style before. It’s incredibly labor intensive: to work like this it takes twice as long to do this issue, but it is a lot of fun. When you read through the issue is has the old style balloons with the break in weird places like in the middle and stuff like that.
Fletcher’s enthusiasm for his work dripped from his every word. As he pointed out how a project like this could easily fall apart without the use of old-school fonts and detail, I began to wonder how often I take the letterer for granted in the comic book process! One panelist liked the lettering of the comic book to the soundtrack in a movie and I thought that was a perfect analogy.
Pages two and three had the same color palette as page one, but they introduced the first bit of dialogue in the issue. At this point it is in Chiang’s hands to break down the storytelling a bit more by “suggesting places where there might be dialogue and back and forth and how ever Brain might want to put words in there.” However, he emphasized that he really “had no idea what was going to be in there until it was lettered.” The moderator then turned to Brian Azzarello to ask him at what point in the process he was able to write the dialogue. Azzarello conceded, “Oh, I can’t write the dialogue – when you are working this way – I can’t write the dialogue until I have seen the pages.”
While this wasn’t the original cover design (see Chiang’s original cover on his Tumblr page), this one definitely makes an impact. This decision to switch designs harkens back to the original concept for this issue coming from DC Comics, making this book part of a company-wide image, rather than matching the cover to the story within.
Every week we head out to our comic book shops, pick up a bunch of books from our pull list and whatever else may catch our eye from the shelves. We read them; we love them; we sit in wait for the next issue wondering what takes so long… Well, after this panel, where I was given a sneak peek behind the creation of just a couple of pages of some Wonder Woman issues, I am left wondering how anyone can produce a book as quickly as some of those that I follow! Of course, not every book is using old-fashioned lettering techniques, or writing in the “Marvel style”, but collaboration tends to be the name of the game in comic book creation and I think I, personally, have gained a greater appreciation for all gears in this creative machine.
For a look at DC Comics’ summary of their “From Concept to Page” panel at SDCC, check out their web page and to see some more snapshots from this NYCC 2012 panel, check out ComicBookResources page on the event.