Wednesday, April 08, 2009

building a story pt. 1 & my uncalled for opinion


well, apparently, my little unintentional review of the watchmen movie last week--and i didn't mean it to be that. my opinion, of all peoples, shouldn't count for anything there--got a lot of people asking me how i liked other movies, the aforementioned batman begins for one and, in particular, the spider-man movies.
i don't know why.

so if you care, read on.

when the first spider-man came out, of course, all my friends were eager to know what i thought about it. i liked it, it was fun--the swinging effects were stunningly cool, if not, at times, too vertiginous--but it was missing something, something that i eventually identified as "the essence". it was lacking the essence of spider-man.

in my opinion.

for me, the essence of spider-man--or peter parker, really--is that peter loves his aunt and uncle. a sensitive kid, he sees and feels how much this (older) couple have sacrificed for him, to take him in and care for him as their own after his parents were killed. peter sees this. he sees their love and generosity and he adores them for it. this needs to come through in any spider-man story--it is the essence of the character. great power and great responsibility are part of it, but he really puts that costume on every night to honor them.

so if, in the movie, the only real scene we see with peter and uncle ben is them arguing in the car just before ben gets shot, we've lost some of that essence. that's all i'm saying. they kinda made up for it in a flashback scene in spider-man 2, but still.

(a pet peeve of mine about the movie, too, is that i never thought toby maguire to be the best choice for peter parker. james franco woulda been a better choice for peter. i've dug toby maguire in a lot of films, but to me, the guy only really has two expressions; wide-eyed naivete and shocked surprise. my friend, terry, says that he always looks like he's about to bust out crying. but that's not the pet peeve. this is. during the announcements that they were making the movie and casting, toby maguire lobbied for the role hard. he went on record saying that he loved the comics, read them all, and that he wanted to do peter parker justice for all the fans. he got the part and did an adequate job--i'm still thinking james franco--but on the night of the premiere, as a guest on the late show with david letterman, one of dave's first questions was, "so what did you know about the character before you started this?" toby looked at dave with a condescending laugh and a smirky, sarcastic grin and said. " 'bout as much as you, dave." thanks, toby. thanks for validating all of comicdom. you $#!%. )

sorry, that's my bile for the month...hopefully, for the whole year.

thank you for letting me vent.


a week or so back, someone suggested that i go through the process of writing a story for comics (the post was called "the story is the boss" and the suggester was LegendsCrazy/dale) and matt seconded the motion--though i don't know why; matt's had to work from one of my rolling, rambling, undecipherable plots/scripts himself and probably cursed my name all the way through...

anyway, over on craig's blog (bliggety-bloggety-bloo--link is over there, on the right...) he decided to take us through
the steps that go into one of his gorgeous canson sketches, so i thought i might as well reveal my own random, totally unprofessional, mind-numbingly boring process of banging together a comic book script...

it starts, of course, with an idea...

SPIDER-MAN assumes that the PROWLER is as bad as the Bugle says he is, only to find that they are both in the same boat.

( i can't find my original pitch that i sent into nate for this story, but i think it went something like this...)

Spidey crosses paths with the Prowler when he (Spidey) assumes that the Bugle's reports of him (Prowler) are true. Spidey soon learns that things aren't always as JJJ sees them and teams up with the Prowler to recover his stolen inventions.
(actually, that sucks. it had to've been better than that...)

i then put together and outline to act as a framework for me to build on as i plot the story out.

Seeing the PROWLER (being vilified) on the front page of the Daily Bugle, PETER (who can’t seem to sell any photos of SPIDEY to JJJ) decides to secretly follow Photojournalist PHIL SHELDON in hopes of picking up a few tricks of the trade (beyond getting Spidey pics, which are so easy for him to come by…).

Responding to a tip from a friend on the Force, Phil once again gets some great shots of the Prowler fleeing a break-in as cops arrive. Spidey goes after him…

The two mix it up, Prowler finally asking Spidey if it had ever occurred to him that what he’s read in the Bugle may be wrong…?! Spidey has visions of headlines that paint him a menace.

As the Prowler begins to explain his situation (as Hobie Brown he is an inventor and, after being turned down by Roxxon, suddenly finds his home and workshop being broken into by…), the enormous, impressive DRAGON MAN blots out the moon above, fleeing the scene of the crime. The two give chase.

Arriving at a Roxxon subsidiary, the two discover Dragon Man’s mysterious master--DR. JONAS HARROW, a Roxxon scientist bent on creating an army of android soldiers! Harrow sics Dragon Man on Spidey and Prowler, who, after playing hide and seek with the fire-breathing gargoyle, destroy Harrow’s hold on Dragon Man and defeat the good Doctor!

Spidey snaps a picture of the two of them saving the day--hopefully absolving them both of their bad reputations--but when Jonah runs the picture, only the PROWLER can be seen as the hero…

once that's approved, i move onto a more fleshed out "beat sheet" which i'll post here tomorrow...'cause this is getting long.
this story appeared in the recent MARVEL ADVENTURES SPIDER-MAN #47 if anyone's interested in picking one up and following along...

smell ya later~


Brian said...

I was just looking at my copy yesterday and will dig it out of the long box so that I can get the full benefit of this master class.

As for the Spidey movies. The big problem I had was that unlike in the comic where the artist can play with Spidey's mask to express emotions, in the film, the masks of both Spidey and the Green Goblin were static and devoid of expression. It really killed a couple of scenes for me and took me right out of the film.

todd said...

hey, bri~!

oh, man ! don't get me started on that horrible, horrible green goblin mask! who in their right mind decided that they should hide one of the most gifted and facially expressive actors alive today behind that hideous hunk of metal--jeez, they hired the guy BECAUSE of his great face and resemblance to that grinning gargoyle!!!--you can see poor willem fighting desperately to emote behind that broken facade--what a terrific waste...

LegendsCrazy said...

Thanks Todd for taking my suggestion. (And thanks Matt for seconding!) Some quick questions:

1. In todays example you tell us about an established book, Marvel Adventures, (I suppose that nearly 50 issues would be considered established.) was the process the same for The Perhapanauts at it's inception? Did you have to pitch more than one story?

2. When you are not that familiar with a previously developed character you are writing about what steps do you take to research for your writing? For example, if you did not know much about the Prowler's history.

Thanks again. Great stuff!

Scott Weinstein said...

Thanks for posting that. I really love seeing the creative process and how stories evolve.

todd said...

hey, legends~!

1. when asked to do a run of four issues for marvel adventures i initially sent in 6 or 7 short pitches--a couple of lines each. the editors picked out their favorite four. for my next batch i've added in a couple more--along with the remainders from the first batch--and we've chosen four out of them. for the haps, since i'm the editor as well, i just write up what i have planned. (once we get done with this spioder-man story, i'll post the process for a perhapanauts tale...)

2. sadly, (ha!) i'm pretty familiar with most of the characters in both the marvel and dc universe--attribute that to my mis-spent youth. when i want to research or check for more current history, i'll check out

Heywood Jablomie said...

hey todd!

funny you should post this i was going to 'e' ya this morning and ask if you could.

nice stuff-keep it coming-i find all this behind the scenes stuff fascinating!