Here at good ol’ MSU everyone is recovering from their undoubtedly awesome Spring Break shenanigans. Me? Well my girlfriend and I went down to visit my best friend and his wife and spent 4 days in a lake house in South Carolina. It was a blast, but we’re not here to talk about the copious amount of beer I drank or the number of Yahtzees I rolled (3), not even how much I owned in Clash of Heroes. No, we’re here to talk about comics, and more specifically, Editorial Edits!
This week I want to take a look at Bill Willingham and Phil Jimenez’s Fairest #1, edited by Gregory Lockard and Shelly Bond. It was a great read, if not exactly what I was expecting with the gorgeous ladies of Fabletown adorning the beautiful Adam Hughes cover. I’m not quite sure where the book is going after the first issue, but if you read the first page it lets you know that we’re not jumping right into the thick of things, “Prince of Thieves: Chapter One of Wide Awake, In which we inaugurate our bold new series of tales concerning the fairest flowers of many lands, starting with a small mystery and ending with a small miracle.”
Fables is quite honestly the most solid comic that I get each month, hands down. I’m always excited when I see it on the shelf, a feeling that’s unfortunately passingly rare these days. In this issue we follow Ali Baba, the Prince of Thieves as he attempts to find a way home after the Fabletown War. He finds a fancy bottle and, well I bet you can guess what happens next.
Let’s take a look at the page in question shall we? There’s no previous page that directly leads to this one here – What you see is what you get. Can you spot a problem?
What do you think? Did you spot anything that comes off as a bit unwieldy? My personal problem is with the first 5 panels. Here we have Ali Baba running away from something, and in the second panel it’s revealed to be a big terrible beasty. Here I was initially confused by the depth of the image. If you look at Ali Baba in the first panel he’s much higher up on the “ground” (indicating he’s farther away from the panel), while in the second panel the demon creature’s foot is almost flush with the bottom border.
Initially I thought that the monster was part of a stampede, but the third panel I think reveals that’s not the case. Then in the fourth panel Ali Baba is back down off the high ground, much closer to the bottom of the panel and it sorta looks like he’s still running straight, which seems a bit strange considering that would mean now he’s chasing the monster that was chasing him! Finally in the fifth panel we get a close up of Ali Baba, who I assume is still running, and then in the sixth the creature is somehow magically behind him again.
Upon my first read through this was my imagined sequence of events: 1) Ali Baba running from something, 2) Maybe running from stampede of weird beasts, 3) Hurdling a beast, wait he’s probably running from that thing, 4) Why are you still running?
However, upon closer inspection I think what happens is that in the fourth panel Ali Baba stops running after hurdling the monster and that the fifth panel is meant to show him taking off in another direction, possibly to his right, or straight at the reader, as indicated by the closeup.
PHEW!!! Does that make sense? I think that my own misunderstanding of this sequence arose between the fourth and fifth panels. I thought that Ali Baba was still running straight, because even though now it looks more like he’s coming to a stop, the disappearance of his rear leg kinda threw me off a little. Then we have a closeup of Ali Baba. This is the problem, the closeup doesn’t indicate any change of direction. Did he start running a different way? Who can say? I thought that maybe the camera had just panned to in front of the thief and he kept running. Imagine my surprise when the beast was suddenly behind him again!
What do you guys think? Did you come across any issues while reading this page? If I were editor and I felt the same confusion while looking over the page I think first I just would have asked a question: What’s supposed to be happening here? As an editor, as that first reader, I don’t want to assume anything. Assuming is bad. If he did start running another way, I might have suggested that the fifth panel possibly zoom out and show the beast scrabbling to turn itself around and continue the chase. I honestly think that’s all it would have taken.
Ok… So I think that’s that! Again, when it comes to the Editorial Edits series I’m not trying to throw anyone under a bus or call out anyone in a mean or disrespectful way. I think as artists and writers, transforming something from words to pictures is an inherently difficult process and as editors we need to attempt to massage the fusion of the two into something that’s easily coherent. Sometimes things fall through the cracks. Those are the things that I want to talk about.
Until next time my friends!