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Old 06-11-2018, 06:02 PM
DarkAngel DarkAngel is offline

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Arrow BfA Comic Comparison

Over the past few weeks, Blizzard has been publishing a series of comics to introduce the major characters of Battle for Azeroth. I couldn't help but be struck by the contrast of quality between the first and second issues. Just why, I wondered, is Magni's story so effective while Jaina's falls flat? The question bothered me for far longer than it should have, and I eventually had no choice but to conduct an analysis.

In case you haven't already, you can read them here and here.

First, let's consider Issue #1:
Title: Reunion
Writer: Andrew Robinson
Subject: Jaina Proudmoore
Big idea: Jaina betrayed her country, her father, and herself.
  1. 6 panels Jaina laments at Theramore
  2. 4 panels Jaina narrates over flashback
  3. 5 panels Jaina considers what might have been
  4. 6 panels returns, Cathrine's speech and crowd
  5. 7 panels Cathrine's speech and crowd
  6. 9 panels conversation after (Copeland)
  7. 6 panels conversation after
  8. 6 panels Cathrine concludes, Jaina concludes

Now, look at Issue #2:
Title: The Speaker
Writer: Matt Burns
Subject: Magni Bronzebeard
Big idea: Magni lost his family because he had to have his own way.
  1. 6 panels intercut on "losing her"
  2. 4 panels pleads for guidence
  3. 6 panels Azeroth "speaks" through flashback
  4. 4 panels full flash, relate with present (New life)
  5. 6 panels full flash, relate with present (child Moira)
  6. 6 panels full flash, relate with present (on loss)
  7. 6 panels full flash, relate with present (advice not taken)
  8. 6 panels full flash, show death
  9. 5 panels full flash, relate with present (shock of death)
  10. 5 panels present, vow

There are a number of things that bear pointing out here. First, one of the most oft-cited rules for writing is "Don't open your story with a history lesson." This is because audiences need to be invited in to the world, not have it shoved in their faces. Robinson's method comes across as trying too hard to build sympathy for Jaina. Burns, in contrast, builds a sense of mystery on the first page. "What's going on?" is just as much in the reader's mind as Magni's.

Notice also the way Burns' flashbacks are handled as true scenes, not merely narrated in front of artwork. Remember, stories are most effective when they're personal, and it's hard to feel a connection to a character when you're essentially watching a museum exhibit.

But perhaps most importantly of all, Burns circles the point of loss before hitting it at the end. His flashbacks are arranged not in chronological order, but in order of impact. Thus, the emotion doesn't drop like a bomb at the beginning (where it inevitably falls flat), but rather ramps up over the course of the story.

This, I feel, is his real secret. I have much to learn from this man.

EDIT:
A funny thing happened after writing the above. All this anayizing comics got me thinking about writing one myself. (A comic script would be an excellent addition to my portfolio.) The trouble with my choices here is that there really isn't much of a story per se. Therefore, I also examined other examples -- and found, to my shock, that one of my favorites was also written by...Andrew Robinson. How can two works by the same man have such radically different success levels? Let's take a look.


Title: A Better World
Writer: Andrew Robinson
Subject: Symmetra
Big idea: Symmetra is a good person working for a ruthless boss.
  1. 7 panels negotiation with mayor
  2. 6 panels the world outside
  3. 6 panels introduce girl
  4. 8 panels infiltrating Calado
  5. 7 panels caught and escape
  6. 6 panels Korpal destroys Calado
  7. 6 panels rescue girl from fire
  8. 6 panels new building opens

The first thing coming to mind is the remarkably similar self-narration by the protagonist. However, A Better World doesn't try to be epic. It's a very personal story, even if it says more about Vishkar Corp. than Satya Vaswani.

Note also that the protagonist isn't reminiscing. The failure happens right now, in front of us. That's why Robinson here avoids the problem he had with Reunion. There's an emotional ramp at work too, much like the one Burns used in The Speaker. The poignant ending is why I liked it so much.

Now, I need to come up with an original story that can be summarized in eight simple sentences.
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Last edited by DarkAngel; 07-11-2018 at 03:18 PM..
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