Dynamite has sent us a writer's commentary by Landry Walker for George R. R. Martin's A Clash of Kings #7. Covers by Mike Miller and Mel Rubi, who is also doing the interiors.
I should have sent a note asking for the last balloon on this one to be divided. The bit where the old Bear is talking about his father and then switching gears to the command to retrieve the skull … these separate tracks of dialogue would be better served with a beat, and I adapted the script without one.
Also: I originally wanted a splash page for this, to really show the enormity of the canopy of this tree, but as usual, space constraints remove often limit the artistic choices. I'm continually amazed at what Mel Rubi manages to pull off with the scripts I give him, at an amazing pace, too.
Getting the skull right here was a particular concern. Though very well drawn, the first version of this page had a very intact and healthy looking skull. The Wildlings burn their dead, and this skull had been sitting in a pile of ashes inside a hollowed out tree sticky with red sap. So my editor Anne kicked it back for a revision.
Looking at the bottom tier of panels here: On paper, when you're constructing a script, it can be easy to see this drawn out sequence as a waste of space. Particularly when you consider my earlier complaint about the limitations inherent in adapting a massive novel into comics with a limited page count. But establishing mood is just as important as the more literal aspects of storytelling. This is a visual medium, and you cannot be afraid to let the characters perform their roles.
Here we get into the most challenging chapter to adapt to date. Weeks pass over the next several pages, and so we have to build in visual cues from the first moment. So Daenerys's hair had to be barely more than peach fuzz here. The idea was it was growing through the next few pages, but the effect might be too subtle? It's hard to gauge when you're looking at the work all the time.
I sketched out the structure of this two-page spread as I was writing the issue. Panels radiating off a central spoke like a sun. I consider suggesting a more severe color shift between each panel to suggest the passage of night and day and back and forth and so on.
A nice bit of history is covered here. You have scenes like this when adapting someone else's work into comics that are like anchor points. You have to keep them intact. There is information here that cannot be excised. It made pacing the rest very difficult, but was very worth the effort.
Last panel – Beautiful coloring work here. Just exceptional.
Another two page spread I had to map out. There was no good way to condense this information into a single page, and having it occur on a page flip would have interrupted the exposition awkwardly. Keeping careful track of page turns and how they affect the reader – even on a subconscious level, is important. Anytime you can, you want your scenes to end on the page flip – not in the middle of a spread.
This particular two-page spread was fun to lay out in the script. Centering the image on the joust was an obvious choice. Even though it's not the most important aspect of the story being told by Jorah, it is the catalyst for a sequence of events. Plus it's more engaging for the reader. So, yeah. It was fun.
Also important, getting that shot of the family sword, left behind as Jorah fled. The sword that Snow now carries. Again, these details matter when adapting someone else's work.
I love the pencil work that Mel is doing. Look at those eyelashes on panel 4. Forget inks! That organic texture gives the book an earth feel that it very much needs. You can see it all over the book if you look for it.
Daenerys has longer hair! Also: this was the most difficult page in the issue. Time jump after time jump in this chapter, and this one had so much to convey. That change in Daenerys hair is as important as every bit of text. It immediately tells us something about the passage of time.