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Comics 101
The latest art tips and techniques, reviews and interviews from my studio. Updated here and at World Famous Comics!

Comics 101 Archives

Comics 101 for 12/11/2003
Crimson Dynamo #4: Script, Thumbnails, Layouts and Finished Pencil Art

Crymson Dynamo #4 Cover Here's a look at my process of creating sequential art for Crimson Dynamo #4 (written by John Jackson Miller) from script to finished pencils.

First, after reading the script, I develop my thumbnail sketches, then I build up towards full size layouts, and finally, produce the final pencils. Take a look below.


Panel 1:
Four wide horizontal panels on this page. In all, the open doors of the ELEVATOR are in the center of the background. In the foreground to the far left is a well-dressed PROFESSOR; in the foreground to the far right is an elderly JANITOR. From the elevator, SERGEI barrels to the left to speak to the Professor, while GENNADY advances to the right to speak to the Janitor, whom he recognizes from his job. The two groups are oblivious to each other's conversations.

You! There! Tell us where we can find...

Ah! Igor Pavelovich! I could use some directions...

Panel 2:
To the left, the frightened PROFESSOR is surrounded by the TOUGHS, DEVEREAUX, and MAX. To the right, GENNADY has a more amiable conversation with the JANITOR.

Anton Vanko's office? Nobody's been in that since the KGB shut it up years ago!

They say he died... but some of us think he defected!

Anton Vanko's office? Gennady, that's been sealed since he disappeared!

Some say he defected...but I heard he died!

Panel 3:
At left, DEVEREAUX speaks firmly to the PROFESSOR, who's being pushed around by the toughs. At right, GENNADY slips the JANITOR a $20 (U.S.).

Actually, he defected, then he died. But no matter. You will show us to the office.

Any chance you can unseal the office? I'm doing an essay on dust.

Panel 4:
The PROFESSOR looks past the toughs to see that there's no one on the right.

The janitor has the key. Funny, he was here a second ago...

Crymson Dynamo 4, page 7, thumbnails

Crymson Dynamo #4, page 7, layouts

Final Pencils
Crymson Dynamo 4, page 7, final pencils


Panel 1:
We see GENNADY closing and locking behind him a METAL DOOR with one hand. In the other, he props on a shelf next to the door the BACKPACK, its flap now fully open to reveal the HELMET.


Now, Professor Anton Vanko, you helmet-hiding, killer-robot making ghoul...

...let's see if I can find the owner's manual before your monstrosity crushes my hometown!

Panel 2:
A wider shot shows VANKO'S OFFICE, which has been ransacked - although not recently. Twenty years of dust and spider-webs cover an office that hasn't seen a visitor since the KGB tossed the place (following Vanko's defection). A computer is on the desk. There are two dusty windows. GENNADY surveys the room from his position in front of the door - which someone is now pounding on.

I thought the janitor came cheap, but now I see he's been overpaid!


...and that would be him realizing I still have his key. That ought to give me a few minutes here.

Panel 3:
Outside the massive door, which is labeled in Russian "Anton Vanko, Dean of Electrical Engineering," SLAVA and SERGEI put their weight against it with no results. DEVEREAUX yells at the cowering PROFESSOR.

It's a metal door, Devereaux. We can't force it!

Damn Stalin and his damn steel everything. You! Where did the janitor go?

Who knows where janitors go?

Panel 4:
Back inside VANKO'S OFFICE, GENNADY pays no mind to the voices from outside. He's realizing that the COMPUTER is actually a small COLOR TV SET wired to a VIC-20, an American home computer from the early 1980s (and the predecessor to the Commodore 64). A children's machine, but in Vanko's day, a western machine off-the-shelf would have been quite a perk.

(through the door)

(through the door)
Ow! Owww!

Wow, Vanko must have worked here a long time ago. "Vic Twenty." This is a computer?

Crymson Dynamo 4, page 8, thumbnails

Crymson Dynamo 4, page 8, layouts

Final Pencils
Crymson Dynamo 4, page 8, final pencils

Panel 1:
GENNADY notices that to the computer's side is wired what looks like a small audiocassette TAPE RECORDER.

Even so, he must have ranked if they let him have a personal desktop machine back then...

- even this piece of junk. "Cassette tape drive." God!

Panel 2:
GENNADY examines a shelf behind the desk, which has a large number of audiotape boxes next to an ugly Russian tape deck unit with big headphones.

And what was our boy listening to over here? Musorgsky's Boris Godunov. Shostakovich's fifth symphony. Rimsky-Korsakov's Maid of Pskov.

God, no wonder the KGB left these.

Panel 3:
GENNADY dons the headphones and pops a tape into the stereo.

This one doesn't look so bad. Let's give a listen...

Panel 4:
GENNADY convulses as a screeching sound comes from the tape.



Panel 5:
Recovering, GENNADY pulls the tape out and shoots a glance at the Vic-20.

Like a modem - or a fax machine. It's data!

Tape drive - maybe that's the answer. There's an old Commodore 64 boxed up down at work. I can kick this stuff to a floppy at the warehouse and read it later!

Panel 6:
Sitting at the desk GENNADY begins stuffing the TAPE DRIVE and the TAPES into his backpack. To do so, he's put the HELMET on the desk. He hears the sound of someone jimmying the door.

Creee--- cree---

Oh, Grandfather Winter, go away!

Crymson Dynamo 4, page 9, thumbnails

Crymson Dynamo 4, page 9, layouts

Final Pencils
Crymson Dynamo 4, page 9, final pencils

You can view more of my pencil art from Crimson Dynamo #4 in my Comic Books gallery. This issue is in comic book stores right now so if you like what you've seen, please pick up one up today or purchase an autographed copy from my Stuff to Buy page.

Thanks and see you next week for a new Comics 101 feature!


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