Believe it or not, my favorite page in all of chapter one is this one:
Find out why after the jump.
Panel 4. That’s why.
There’s a lot of emotion, sadness, resignation, but not so much so that Collins is simply giving up. In fact, if I were any kind of comics writer, I’d move that speech balloon to the following panel and let it sit all by itself and let the art do the heavy lifting. This, as a writer coming from prose, is not always an easy thing to do. It’s the same reason why a lot of writers over-dialogue their screenplays (not to mention that actors like to speak lines, ’cause the dialogue can do more of the work) instead of just letting the silent moments do the work.
And I’m far from the biggest fan of silent panels. Often they’re used to say THIS IS AN IMPORTANT MOMENT, and not always subtly so. You can argue about the subtlety of the above, and I’ll happily admit that I’m still learning this stuff.
I mean, the rest of the page is solid. I like the use of symmetry in panels one and four, or rather asymmetry. Again, if I had it to do over, I’d push panels five and six to the next page and let things breathe a bit more. This isn’t an easy thing to do, either. I mean, sure it is, but when you’re looking at twenty-two pages in a chapter, each one of them has to support its own weight or you’ll run out of room to actually tell the story. Or you have to tell it differently, cutting out anything that isn’t the most absolutely essential story point. That takes a lot of discipline, which I don’t always have. It also takes the awareness of the work that only comes out of experience. This is why you have to write comics to learn how to write them. Anything else you’ve written simply won’t prepare you for the mechanics at work in sequential art. So when those editors tell you that you need to write comics to learn to write comics, they’re not just blowing smoke.