Creating Comics, my way, part 7 – PAGE ONE

Okay, today’s a big day for Instinct. Today is the day that all the pieces of the puzzle come together to create something brand new. In this case, a completed page of comics.

Huzzah! I’m really happy with how this has turned out. And I know I just did this not that long ago, but I’m going to break everything down into its component parts yet again. Because that’s how I roll.

1) I wrote the script. But first, I developed the idea, based on three specific things: I wanted to create a psychological kind of story. Something creepy and disturbing and not just flat out violent like some of my other work. Second, I wanted a serial killer dressed in a white suit. Boom, got that. And third: I wanted to have this creepy, insane serial killer be forced into doing good. That comes later.

Here’s the first page script again, introducing some of the characters. Also, we establish that the crazy Russian prisoner…well, he’s crazy.


By Mark Bertolini

Page One

3 page-wide panels

1/ Overhead shot: VASILY ROMANY (see separate character description) is lying on an operating table. He’s strapped down heavily, completely incapacitated. He has a band across his forehead as well, and a device is attached to his head that forces his eyes open, like little spider legs preventing him from closing his eyes. He has a maniacal smile on his face.

VOICE (off-panel): Are we rolling?

VOICE (off-panel): We are. Go ahead.

VOICE (off-panel): Vasily Romany. Can you hear me?

2/ Close-up on Romany’s face, his wide eyes all bloodshot, a few days worth of beard growth on his face, all patchy, his mouth open in a rictus kind of grin. He’s got bad teeth.

ROMANY: Я на Луне. Я твой Бог сейчас.

3/ Pull back to show Romany’s table is in the middle of a cage. There is nothing else in the cage except for a large light over the table, shining down on Romany. Outside the cage stand three men, two in ill-fitting suits, one in a lab coat holding a clipboard. The men in suits are smoking. These are AGENT FAYNE and AGENT AMBERSON. The man in the lab coat is DOCTOR WELLINGTON (see separate character descriptions).

FAYNE: He’s out of his goddamn mind, Doc. I thought you said he was better.

WELLINGTON: He was quite lucid earlier, Agent Fayne. I don’t know what to tell you.

(A caption box will appear for each character here)

CAP: Agent Fayne, NSA

CAP: Agent Amberson, NSA

CAP: Doctor Wellington, NSA Spec-Ops Research

2) I send the script to Sami, who creates roughs to give me an idea of what he’s thinking for the page. Of course I approve them, even with the roughs you can tell just how skilled Sami is at this. He hits all the points mentioned in the script, and gives us some good angles (I’m bad with angles, so I never mention them in the script unless there is something incredibly specific I want to include.)

Here’s the rough of the first page.

3) I approve the rough, and Sami gets to work inking, creating the finished product. All the shadows are blacked in. Depth is added to the characters and the environment. Inked pages are some of my favorite to look at. I like black and white comics a lot. But Instinct couldn’t be just black and white (well, it could have been but I didn’t want it to be, and that’s my call since it’s my comic, you dig?)

The inked page.

4) Then Hugo steps in and colors the page. After I released my overly strict color ideas, I think Hugo had a lot of room to maneuver. He brought the characters to life and finalized who they are.

The colors:

5) And then my good friend and constant letterer ET Dollman came up to bat, took my words, figured out where the balloons needed to be placed (I know a lot of writers who do this themselves, but I don’t. Lettering is a very specified type of job, and anyone who letters comics regularly knows more about placement than I do), and plugs in the words. But it’s much more than that, there are a million different fonts available, so ET has to decided what works best for the story and the page.

So here’s the grand unveiling of the first completed page of Instinct:

We just need to do this seven more times, and the 8-page pitch package will be ready, art-wise. I need to tighten up the pitch documents, though. That’s still a work in progress, and (maybe) my next Instinct update will have more on that. Maybe.

And for shits and giggles, here’s Sami’s kickass cover again.

It’s starting to look like a real comic, no?

On a completely unrelated note, I picked up the new Soundgarden album “King Animal” last night. First new album in 15 years…and man, is it a winner! If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that Soundgarden is one of my favorite bands of all time. This new disk reminds me a lot of “Superunknown”, and is really the next logical step after their last album, “Down on the Upside”. Chris Cornell can’t really hit the super high notes anymore (but really, he’s in his 40s now, right?), but it still rocks. And brand new Matt Cameron drumming is always welcome. Very highly recommended.

With that thought, do yourself a favor and listen to “Down on the Upside” by Soundgarden, in preparation for “King Animal”.


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