Blah Blah Blog – Comic Tutorial, Part 1

A post from my Marvel blog of the last decade, the first part of a sequence breaking down how a comic book is produced.

Comic Tutorial pt. 1

April 28, 2007 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

We’ve got an all-day editorial meeting scheduled for the middle of this week (so there’ll likely be no blog posting on Wednesday), so I’m going to need something easy to talk about this week. Thus I’ve decided to do a basic step-by-step tutorial on how a comic book page or sequence is made.

As my example–because I’ve got the background materials on hand, and because I’m just so happy with how the book is turning out–I’ve selected the opening sequence from DR STRANGE: THE OATH #1 by Brian K Vaughan and Marcos Martin.

Brian’s initial story outline, done before any of the individual issues had been completely broken down, so that he, myself and Marcos could agree on the story content, opened like this:


*We’ll open with a bang in medias res, with Wong carrying the bleeding body of his master into the underworld offices of the Night Nurse. As this woman struggles to remove strangely enchanted bullets from Strange’s body, the Doctor’s astral projection plays “backseat surgeon.” While his spirit form critiques the young woman’s suturing skills, Strange fills Night Nurse in on his medical history (which includes the infamous car crash that quickly and conveniently encapsulates Stephen’s origin story for our new readers).


After the overall story had been agreed upon, Brian went away and wrote a first draft script of the first issue, breaking the action into individual pages and panels.

Initially, in Brian’s first draft script, the sequence looked like this:


Page One

Page One, Panel One
Okay, we’re going to open with this page-wide nighttime establishing shot of the MANHATTAN SKYLINE, since we want to be coy about exactly where in New York City the following scene is set. Are we in Strange’s Greenwich Village Sanctum Sanctorum, or somewhere else?

No Copy

Page One, Panel Two
Cut into what appears to be a small HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM for this largest panel of the page. There are only two people in here, the heroes IRON FIST and GRAVITY. [Editors–We can go with any other Marvel characters if these guys are out of commission, as long as one is a “veteran” and the other more of a novice.] One of the eyepieces on Gravity’s mask is smashed out, and Iron Fist is pressing an ice pack to his outstretched leg. Gravity is holding an old copy of Highlights for Kids Magazine, while Iron Fist quietly thumbs through an old issue of People. Classic waiting room stuff.

No Copy

Page One, Panel Three
Push in close on Gravity, as he eyes the off-panel Iron Fist with interest.

1) Gravity: Um…

Page One, Panel Four
Cut over to Iron Fist, who doesn’t even look up from his magazine to respond.

2) Iron Fist: Yes, I’m Iron Fist. No, I don’t know where Power Man is.
3) Iron Fist: We’re partners, not a couple.


Page Two

Page Two, Panel One
Pull out to another shot of both guys.

1) Gravity: Yeah, I… I know. I’m a superhero, too. Gravity.
2) Gravity: What happened to you?

3) Iron Fist: Pulled my hammy fighting a bunch of ninjas. You?

Page Two, Panel Two
Change angles on the two for this largest panel of the page.

4) Gravity: I got hit with a mace. And not, like, the spray that chicks carry. I’m talking about the friggin’ medieval weapon.

5) Iron Fist: Who was it, Human Cannonball?

6) Gravity: No, some racist super-villain. Kinda had a Space Ghost thing going on?

7) Iron Fist: Ah. Flag-Smasher.

Page Two, Panel Three
Push in on Gravity, as he pulls out a slip of paper.

8) Gravity: Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, Spider-Man swung in and sorta saved my bacon. He saw that I was hurting and gave me this joint’s address.
9) Gravity: I mean, I get health care through my college, but something like this is kinda hard to explain to a regular doctor, you know?

Page Two, Panel Four
Cut over to Iron Fist, as he gestures at the off-panel entrance to this third-floor office.

10) Iron Fist: Don’t sweat it, kid.
11) Iron Fist: This is where all the masks in New York City come for a little T.L.C. You wouldn’t believe the crazy stuff I’ve seen come bleeding through that–

12) Wong (from off): Please! Somebody help us!


Page Three

Page Three, Panel One
Cut over to the entrance for this three-quarter SPLASH. We’re looking at WONG (dressed in civilian attire), who is carrying an unconscious DOCTOR STRANGE. Maybe Strange’s Cloak of Levitation is subtly helping Wong with the heavy lifting? Either way, Strange has blood running down his limp arm, and Wong is understandably freaked out.

1) Wong: My master… he’s been shot.

Page Three, Panel Two
Cut over to Gravity and Iron Fist, as the two men slowly get to their feet.

2) Iron Fist: Oh, God.

3) Gravity: Is that…?

4) Night Nurse (from off): Afraid I’ll have to ask you boys to come back later.



As it turned out, Gravity was unavailable (wrapped up in events in BEYOND! at the time), so we wound up substituting Arana in his place, as seen in this second draft of the sequence, from which Marcos penciled the pages:

Page One

Page One, Panel One
Okay, we’re going to open with this page-wide nighttime establishing shot of the MANHATTAN SKYLINE, since we want to be coy about exactly where in New York City the following scene is set. Are we in Strange’s Greenwich Village Sanctum Sanctorum, or somewhere else?

No Copy

Page One, Panel Two
Cut into what appears to be a small HOSPITAL WAITING ROOM for this largest panel of the page. There are only two people in here, the heroes IRON FIST and ARAÑA (the Latina Spider-Girl: 

ARAÑA: THE HEART OF THE SPIDER #10

ARAÑA: THE HEART OF THE SPIDER #10). One of the eyepieces on Araña’s mask is smashed out, and Iron Fist is pressing an ice pack to his outstretched leg. Araña is holding an old copy of Highlights for Kids Magazine, while Iron Fist quietly thumbs through an old issue of People. Classic waiting room stuff.

No Copy

Page One, Panel Three
Push in close on Araña, as she eyes the off-panel Iron Fist with interest.

1) Araña: Um…

Page One, Panel Four
Cut over to Iron Fist, who doesn’t even look up from his magazine to respond.

2) Iron Fist: Yes, I’m Iron Fist. No, I don’t know where Power Man is.
3) Iron Fist: We’re partners, not a couple.


Page Two

Page Two, Panel One
Pull out to another shot of both heroes.

1) Araña: Yeah, I… I know. I’m a superhero, too. Araña.
2) Araña: What happened to you?

3) Iron Fist: Pulled my hammy fighting a bunch of ninjas. You?

Page Two, Panel Two
Change angles on the two for this largest panel of the page.

4) Araña: I got hit with a mace. And not, like, the spray that nervous old women carry. I’m talking about the friggin’ medieval weapon.

5) Iron Fist: Who was it, Human Cannonball?

6) Araña: No, some racist super-villain. Kinda had a Space Ghost thing going on?

7) Iron Fist: Ah. Flag-Smasher.

Page Two, Panel Three
Push in on Araña, as she pulls out a slip of paper.

8) Araña: Yeah, that’s it. Anyway, Spider-Man swung in and saved my tocino. He saw that I was hurting and gave me this joint’s address.
9) Araña: I mean, I’m pretty sure I get health care through my dad or whatever, but something like this is kinda hard to explain to a regular doctor, you know?

Page Two, Panel Four
Cut over to Iron Fist, as he gestures at the off-panel entrance to this third-floor office.

10) Iron Fist: Don’t sweat it, kid.
11) Iron Fist: This is where all the masks in New York City come for a little T.L.C. You wouldn’t believe the crazy stuff I’ve seen come bleeding through that–

12) Wong (from off): Please! Somebody help us!


Page Three

Page Three, Panel One
Cut over to the entrance for this three-quarter SPLASH. We’re looking at WONG (dressed in civilian attire), who is carrying an unconscious DOCTOR STRANGE. Maybe Strange’s Cloak of Levitation is subtly helping Wong with the heavy lifting? Either way, Strange has blood running down his limp arm, and Wong is understandably freaked out.

1) Wong: My master… he’s been shot.

Page Three, Panel Two
Cut over to Araña and Iron Fist, as the two heroes slowly get to their feet.

2) Iron Fist: Oh, God.

3) Araña: Is that…?

4) Night Nurse (from off): Afraid I’ll have to ask you boys to come back later.


From here, Marcos began to work out the actual layout of each of these pages–as we’ll see tomorrow.

Tom B

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