Sunday, 22 December 2013
Scripts And Strips
Neil Gaiman's The Sandman: Dream Country (New York, 1995) collects four stories and the script for the first, "Calliope". Page 1, panel 2, shows Richard Madoc's study which, according to the script, contains bookshelves, desk, word processor, encyclopedias, maybe paintings, occasional small statues, an exterior door and "...a slim telephone on a table in one corner..." (p. 119 of the book; p. 2 of the script).
Since a comics script is also a letter of instruction to the artist, in this case Kelley Jones, Gaiman adds that all these details need not appear in this one panel:
"...DROP IT IN AS WE MOVE AROUND THE ROOM, LOOKING AT THESE PEOPLE." (ibid.)
Thus, here is an imaginary space, Madoc's study, initially existing only in Gaiman's mind. Gaiman not only describes this space to Jones but also advises him how to introduce it to Sandman readers. This introductory panel shows bookshelves, desk and word processor. The door and the telephone, not particularly "slim," appear in panel 4 of page 2. The study location is in several panels but many of these are close-ups on the characters not showing any background details.
A single comparatively minor space requires this amount of attention to detail although, of course, it is just one of many imaginary spaces, also including the interiors of Morpheus' castle, the Inn of the Worlds' End and a sailing ship.
The first exterior shot in "Calliope" is page 3, panel 4. Gaiman describes a London street, says that he will send photoreference and adds:
"I DOUBT THAT WE CAN SILHOUETTE HIM AGAINST THE SKYLINE, UNLESS HE'S ACTUALLY WALKING BESIDE THE THAMES HERE..." (p. 122/5)
In the comic, he is walking beside the Thames. It is extremely instructive to look back and forth between script and strip, checking for differences, but we would not be able to do this or to benefit from it on every occasion of reading a comic.