The day after tomorrow, Tuesday August 9, is the release date of Behemoth in paperback! So Keith and I made this poster for you all.
And now for some more exciting news: The Uglies manga!
For those of you who haven’t seen this elsewhere on the interwebs, my OTHER big announcement at Comic Con was the upcoming manga based on the Uglies series. I say “based on” but rest assured, this isn’t simply the same story in graphic form. Instead, we’re telling much the same story as in the novels, but it’s all from Shay’s point of view. (So who’s we, you ask? More on that later.)
Now as you Uglies scholars know, Shay taught Tally everything she knew. Shay was involved in subversive activities long before the novels open, and was part of the Crims back then they were an ugly clique headed by . . . Zane. (Ugly Zane!)
And remember how Shay and Zane almost ran away to the Smoke together, but they both chickened out? Well, that’s the story they told Tally. But what really happened back then?
In these manga—three of them, about 180 pages each–we will tell all!
Okay, we includes me, Devin Grayson, Steven Cummings, and Yishan Li. That’s right, there are four of us. Here’s what we all do:
Devin is writing the scripts. She’s written lots of superhero comics, including a ton of Batman titles, but I was won over by a miniseries she created for Vertigo called User, which is about the fantasy lives of gamers in the real world.
Now you may be thinking, “Why didn’t you write it, Scott? Arne’t you, like, a writer and stuff?”
Rest assured, I outlined every book in detail, rewrote some bits, and approved every word. But, seriously, I don’t know how to write comics scripts! And part of wisdom is knowing what you can’t do. It’s been amazing to see Devin adapt this story to another medium, and get into the mind of Shay. (A great learning experience that I may put to use one day . . . )
Steven is the artist for the series. He’s drawn many western titles for DC and Marvel, and manga books for Tokypop and Udon. He lives in Japan, and has worked bravely through earthquakes, tsunamis, and nuclear meltdowns. Again, I’ve paid close attention to everything, approving all the characters, costumes, technology, and the architecture of the Smoke, New Pretty Town, and other locales. Of course, Steven brings his own flair to the characters’ expressions and movements, and to the look and feel of the future. For me, it’s kind of like directing actors who have their own style.
Yishan is doing the toning and lettering for the series. In other words, she shades Steven’s art and adds the word balloons. Key steps, and ones I never really thought about much before this project. But you’ll see below how Yishan’s shading “lights” the scene.
Let me show you how this all works, starting with page 12 of the first manga.
We start with the script:
PAGE 12, panel one
ECU on Shay’s interface ring as she gently puts it down on a bedside table.
1 SHAY: Good night, stupid room.
Page 12, panel two
Pull back for our first establishing shot of Shay’s dorm room. It’s very small and very basic, the only truly decorative elements (IMPORTANT!) being huge software-generated pictures of Shay as a pretty taking up whole walls, larger-than-life and overwhelming (not all identical, though – some variations on the theme; some with weird plastic surgery, cat-like or whatever, but all recognizably Shay). Scott says wall screens are cheap tech in this world, so the images can be animated, changing between frames (though Shay would be used to this, so no need to draw undue attention to it, just let it give the visuals an extra futuristic kick). But these aren’t just projections, they’re mammoth, digitalized photo-posters.
There’s also a bed (see references at end of script), the previously mentioned bedside table with some kind of post-modern light, maybe a super utilitarian desk, and her hoverboard leaning beside a window just big enough for her to crawl through.
Shay has just put her interface ring down on the bedside table and is pulling down the blankets on her bed. She’s not dressed for bed, though, instead wearing her normal day uniform including her hoodie.
NOTE from Scott: we need one specific balloon shape (and maybe font) for objects talking. It can be fairly obvious and zappy.
2 ROOM/ tailless: Sweet dreams, Shay.
2 SFX: TOK
Page 12, panel three
Shay pulls off the parka and shoves it under the covers…
3 CAPTION/SHAY: Got the coat-interior set close to body temp…
Page 12, panel four
…before shaping it to look as much like a person sleeping under the covers as possible.
4 CAPTION/SHAY: …not perfect…
Page 12, panel five
Shay then grabs her hoverboard…
5 CAPTION/SHAY: …but neither are the sensors in this bogus dorm.
Page 12, panel six
…and climbs with it out the window with a brief glance over her shoulder.
6 CAPTION/SHAY: Sometimes I think they want us to sneak out.
END OF PAGE
Okay, first I take a look at the script and add notes or edit dialog. Then Steven reads it and emails me and Devin with any questions. Once everything is clear to him, he does very rough “thumbnail sketches,” which look like this:
At this stage, I approve things like the furniture and the general flow of the page. I love all the high camera angles and such. We’ve already discussed ugly dorm rooms, which are really basic, kind of like a rustic summer camp. And of course Shay and her dorm uniform have already been drawn a few times and approved.
With my blessing, Steven moves onto the pencils stage.
As you can see, lots more details have appeared. I still love the page, but I’m leery of the books on the shelves at first, because there aren’t a lot of physical books in Tally’s city. But Shay does take handwriting classes, so I can imagine her keeping a diary or maybe having some old-fashioned books around. Plus, technologies don’t completely disappear. There are people who still write with fountain pens, after all.
Speaking of fountain pens, the next stage is inks!
I don’t usually have comments at the inks stage, because everything has already been approved (and it’s hard to erase now, dude!). But that’s okay, beacuse it’s starting to look pretty real.
Next it goes to Yishan for toning and lettering. And thus we have the final version:
So that’s basically how it works, except with more emails between me and Steven and Devin (and our editor) than I’ve let on, plus lots of up-front design work on costumes and characters, x 180 pages for each book.
But we are on our way, and the first manga will be out from Del Rey in May 2012. Of course, there will be lots of previews between now and then, especially after I get back from the Goliath tour.
Hope you like the look of things. Ask any Uglies manga questions you have below, and I’ll try to answer them in my next post.