A Writer's Commentary: from Amy Chu (and her interns) on Dejah Thoris #9, out now from Dynamite.
The Chu Crew (Spenser and Alexa) is back for the Q and A of issue 9 of Dejah Thoris! We're still recovering from New York Comic Con (hello to anyone who stopped by the table and chatted with us!) but we luckily managed to avoid getting con crud and are here today with some in-depth questions and comments for our Chu-mander in Chief herself. So let's dive right in with this gorgeous cover art, shall we?
Cover: Alexa: I love Galiando's work on this cover! The Martian creature design is very unique and puts Dejah in a very authoritative pose, all ready for battle. I also love the dust being kicked up on the bottom, it's the little things that count. Since you're nearing the end of your run, any reflections on all the wonderful cover art so far?
AMY: I'm seriously enjoying all the beautiful art. It really does give a chance for more artists to participate in the series and I get to see how everyone interprets Dejah a little differently. I hope Dynamite makes all these covers into a set of trading cards or playing cards. I think that would be the next natural thing to do!
Page 1: Spenser: I love reinforcing the legend of the Black Martians to heighten the tension as well as starting the first page right in the middle of the action. How do you approach writing first pages and getting things moving?
AMY: It's always a balancing act of recapping what's happening but also getting the reader's attention. Fortunately Pasquale knows how to tell a story with his art and Valentina's colors lend itself well to keeping your eye on the age.
Page 2: Alexa: This single splash helps set the stakes of the fight really well, with Dejah and Keel being forced to flee and the Black Martian looming in the background. The speed lines really help add depth and focus in on our protagonists!
Page 3: Alexa: The look on Keel's face is priceless, and the fact that Dejah does it to motivate him and for the good of her people as well adds a twist of depth and emotion to what would just be a cliché kiss.
AMY: I thought it was about time for a kiss between the two, but I didn't want to make it all sappy. I'm not good at sap…
Page 4: Spenser: Sajad's loyalty to the throne and the Jeddak's leadership shine here. The fact that Sajad would volunteer for the fight ahead despite his wounds displays the loyalty the Jeddak commands. Any tips on sort of balancing these relationships and the sort of trickle-down of respect these characters have for each other?
AMY: It's really about paying attention to these supporting characters and keeping them consistent in their motives. Some writers actually physically map out these relationships. I just keep them inside my head as best I can.
Page 5: Alexa: I love this behind angle of the Black Martians. The fact that they compare Dejah and company to children is ominous and shows their strength. How much do you enjoy writing villains and all their ominous speeches?
AMY: This was actually mostly Pasquale's idea. We had a bit of a glitch, an extra page (it happens) so he drew this first and I wrote the dialogue to fit the page. This can be a crazy way of doing it, but certainly more fun, especially when it comes to villains.
Page 6: Spenser: Ando's motivations and manipulation are unraveled a bit here. It shows that this war has taken a heavy toll on Mars and there's casualties caught in the middle, adding a touch of realism to all this. How difficult is it to keep a note of the realism in all of the fantasy elements?
AMY: To me, fantasy is just the window dressing for these plot points. It's the realism of the situation that makes it a story.
Page 7: Alexa: You really love to keep readers in suspense, don't you? These moment-to-moment panels really help add the tension of this (supposed) betrayal that pay off in…
Page 8: Alexa: ….This great single splash page! It's so visceral and full of emotions in Dekana's facial expression and posture. How do you sort of dictate these story beats to Pasquale, while also letting him do his own thing?
AMY: Again Pasquale is a great storyteller on his own. My script just provides a framework that breaks down the action in a series of panels, then Pasquale interprets the script visually. This is why comics is really a collaboration if the writer and artists are allowed to do it this way.
Page 9: Spenser: The twists keep coming! Dekana's secrets add yet another layer of tension to the chaotic battle! How do you manage to balance all of these well while keeping the momentum going?
AMY: Uh, I don't know. It's the middle of the book and I just don't want to lose anyone…
Page 10: Spenser: Dekana's poker face in this page is great, I love the subtlety being portrayed here.
Page 11: Alexa: Same. I love that Dekana's face is shrouded in this page, showing her betrayal and disconnect from the rest of the crew. These little details really show Pasquale's master class skills!
Page 12: Spenser: The scope and impact of these ships is amazing! Again, I love the architecture of them.
Page 13: Spenser: I love that this page sort of parallels Page 2, except we have just Keel running this time and we're getting the results of their tactical retreat. Again, those speed lines really help bring the focus on Keel while having the Black Martians looming in the background.
Page 14: Alexa: The close up of the Black Martian's face really sticks out to me. I love the sense of smugness on his face, the attention to detail from Pasquale really shines.
Page 15: Alexa: The explosion at the bottom of this panel is very dynamic, the dust particles really add to the effect.
Page 16: Spenser: Blowing up a bomb in your ship is one way to move it! I love the creative ways you have Dejah and crew tactically maneuvering against a much stronger enemy.
AMY: This was a huge plot problem for me. I anguished over it for weeks. How do we get the Xataxian out? And then I was thinking Newton's three laws of motion, specifically the second one Force=Mass x Acceleration. We just needed a force…
Page 17: Alexa: Despite the chaos on the page, it's a fitting tribute to a soldier like Keel. It's a quiet moment against the battle. How do you approach character deaths and giving them the impact they deserve?
AMY: I wanted Keel to go out a hero, and not so much an unrequited lover. This seemed to be the right moment for him.
Page 18: Spenser: A ship blowing up never looked more beautiful, surprisingly enough! I love the trail the ship leaves in its wake, it helps frame the shot against the night sky.
Page 19: Alexa: We have a quiet moment between Dejah and the Jeddak before we crank it up to eleven! These small moments do wonders for the pacing and add the much needed personal touch to this chaos.
Page 20: Spenser: As if things couldn't get any worse! Not only do we have yet another threat for next issue, but it's also your last. Feels very bittersweet, any hints at what to expect in the next issue and beyond?
AMY: Well Issue 10 wraps up everything with a HUGE reveal specifically designed for die-hard Princess of Mars fans. Thank you all for coming along for this fabulous ride. I hope the wait is worth it!