Monday, September 08, 2008

New Shooter interview

Glamazonia, an Italian comics site, has a new interview with Jim Shooter. (Note that any alleged rumors about his future on the title are not mentioned.)

The interview is here, with the Italian translation up top and then scroll halfway down to the English. Shooter discusses his writing style and the state of the industry today.

From the interview:

I don’t do anything “generic,” I hope. I start by thinking about events that might be in the story, the effects those events might have upon the characters and, conversely, how the characters would shape the events. I think about what is, or might be at stake, both in plot terms and in human terms. This is very much a freewheeling process—I play “what if...?” a lot and imagine recklessly. No thought, no idea is too far out at this stage. Nothing is out of bounds. Usually, I write down pages and pages of notes—ideas, snippets of dialogue that occur to me, character bits, scene ideas, real events from my own life that relate, events from the lives of people I know or have heard tell of that relate; whatever. I make lists of words or things that relate to the ideas that come up — for instance, if the story might involve the sea, I’ll probably make lists of nautical terms, fish, ships, etc. Free association. I do a great deal of research into the ideas that come up. At first, the research is speculative—just poking around for more items to include in my notes and lists—but as I become more sure that something is going to end up in the script, the research becomes more focused. I even make sketches.

While doing all of the above, I’m also thinking about what I have to say about the subjects that emerge. Do I have any insight I can offer? A new thought, a new way to look at something…or an “observation about the human condition,” as a former publisher I knew used to say. I’m not talking about building a corny moral into the story, or some stupid lesson; not just a stupid irony, or even a clever O. Henry-style irony. I’m talking about things that make the reader say, “I never thought of things that way before,” or “I’ve never seen anything like that before,” or “I know just how that character feels,” or “I understand that more deeply, or in a different way, now,” or...whatever.

For instance, my ongoing Legion of Super-Heroes story, entitled “One Evil,” has a subplot about a leadership crisis. I know about such things from both sides—being the leader of an organization in difficult times and being a follower in such a situation. I have plenty to say about that subject, plenty of insights to offer. If I can convey to the readers something new via the characters involved, what they go through and the way they go through it, that’s a good thing.

A second article has (in Italian) a biography of Shooter and reviews of some trade paperbacks reprinting his work, from the Legion Showcase to Secret Wars to Star Brand, Magnus, and his new work on the Legion. Next, in both Italian and English, the first two pages of Shooter's script to LSH v5 #45, along with Francis Manapul's artwork for those pages. As an added bonus, we see Manapul's evolution of the cover artwork for that issue.

Here's how the description of the splash starts out (but not the whole thing):


Scene: The BRIDGE at Legion HQ. Present are LIGHTNING LAD, BRAINIAC 5, ELEMENT LAD, PHANTOM GIRL and M’RISSEY. Show them all, but feature M’rissey in this shot, front and center, and right beside him, Lightning Lad. They should be fairly close up, cropped, if that works. They’re facing the BIG SCREEN, which you established at the end of last issue.

What we saw on the Big Screen last issue was the image of U.P. PRESIDENT KIESELBACH and behind her, a couple of military and technical people and a screen or display of some sort of a strange-looking planet that I called the INTRUDER PLANET.

Now, here’s the tricky part—either the screen and President Kieselbach are off panel, i.e., our camera is between the screen and the Legionnaires (and M’rissey), facing them, which is the easy way out; or the camera is, to some extent, behind the translucent, holographic screen so we see a bit of the Legionnaires/M’rissey and background through part of the screen and the image of President Kieselbach, etc. Either way, the Legionnaires/M’rissey should be lit by the glow of the screen. Either way, in any way possible, try to make it clear that the Legionnaires are facing and communicating with someone on a screen.


adriana said...

i was super excited to see a couple script pages but... hahaha these look super doctored! it's hard to imagine the artists needed such details as what happened in issue #38 that they drew. so either shooter gives his artists a LOT of extra weird info or he tried to make these more exciting by explaining things in a more lengthy manner.

Michael said...

I've seen actual comic scripts before and this does look pretty typical.

This would be of the "full script" style (as opposed to the "Marvel Method" of plot - pencils - script) since it does have all of the intricate directions for the penciller, captions, dialog, etc.

adriana said...

nono, i'm quite aware of the "full script" style where everything that's going on in each panel is explained shot for shot.

i'm saying that the tone and details given sound strange. like "remember issue 38?" is a bizarre thing to say to your ARTIST. i've also seen full scripts before (and edited them :)), which is why this sounded so bizarre to me.

there's a difference between "make sure he looks particularly menacing here, and that superman's in the foreground looking confident" and "Lightning Lad, Element Lad and Phantom Girl, background, are awestruck as if M’rissey had performed a super-feat to dwarf the mightiest of Supergirl’s".

like... what? that sentence could have sensed at "awestruck", rather than referencing Supergirl feats (a very legiony reference, eh?). which is what leads me to believe it was touched up for the article. i mean that's fine, actual scripts are usually kind of boring unless you're reading it to look at style, etc.

Charlie E/N said...

I've found the Shooter issues to go between good and forgettable. It's a shame, his past work has been awesome, and this run isn't *bad* it's just not great.
Having a new set of swears every damn issue doesn't help. He should have a set group and stick with them.
That said, I have managed to use "florg-hammered" once when drinking with friends.
Oh, and my dislike of the singer Morrisey is tainting the character of M'rissey.
Other than that, as I said, some good, some not so good.
I hope he carries on building though, his first storyline wasn't that good, but he's been steadily improving.

Michael said...

Charlie - would it help if you knew that the character of M'rissey is named after Rich Morrissey, who was active in Legion fandom around the time that Shooter came back to the Legion in the 70s? Rich was also well known as a comics scholar and Superman expert.

fjm said...

I can vouch for the fact that Jim does put a lotta stuff in the script! sometimes I'll read paragraph after paragraph and then realize it's not even gonna appear on the page..LOL. Jim likes to think things out and a lot of times he writes down his thought process right on the script even if it's not gonna be on the page. As an example I'm drawing a scene currently which features a government complex. What does Jim give me? I rough city plan of almost the entire city which houses multiple government complexes.. does it appear on that page...heck no! There's a reason to the madness though. With Jim giving such depth in his description I don't see his script one dimensional I"m literally able to walk through this world he's created and see it from 360 degrees. Which allows me to tell the story which much more clarity and continuity. Gotta love Jim super detailed script.