The Anatomy and Evolution of a Dead Air Comic Panel

The process of creating a comic book is like having a constant conversation between multiple brains, the boundaries of the page, and the written word, all at the same time. As a result, it often transpires that the original idea for a specific page or panel can evolve from the moment it’s initially conceived to what ends up written down in the script, and then again once that script is translated into a visual image.

Sometimes, even the line art can make a significant leap from what the artist originally planned. A perfect example is this panel from the third page of Dead Air #1. In the first draft of the script, I had this panel all by itself, and it was pushed farther into the narrative onto page 5. It wasn’t until two drafts later that it had been moved back to the third page and split into two panels, with this being on the bottom and the flashback from Michelle’s past serving to add extra emotional punch and context positioned at the top.

Joe’s creative evolution on the look of this panel also went through several different iterations. In his initial approach, the layout looked at Michelle from a side angle as she stood in front of the D-TALq franchise location, but when it came time to put down the line art he felt it lacked the proper framing to show just how run-down and pedestrian the technology’s various franchises had become.

In order to accomplish that, he had to pull out the point of view and position the reader directly behind Michelle, while gave him the opportunity to illustrate the somewhat seedy strip mall that the D-TALq franchise called home.

It also allowed for a better portrait of the gloomy, rain-slicked atmosphere that further served to delineate Michelle’s mindset in this panel, and it’s here that Maja came through with colors that underscored the clouds hanging over the entire scene. The balance she provided between the dark skies and the fluorescent highlights and reflections provided by the D-TALq signage were perfect for driving home what the character was feeling in this important moment.

Three different contributions, each vital, helped to make this panel evolve into its final form.

Click here to read the first 4 pages of Dead Air #1 for free!

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