On the middle week of every month, regular Biff Bam Pop! contributor, JP Fallavollita, shares his musings on comic books, comic book art, comic book collecting and the overall comic book universe. That gives him a lot to talk about but don’t hold it against him if he speaks with a DC Comics slant. That’s just how he rolls (with the capes and the masks).
Headline got your attention? Well, it’s got mine!
I’d like to have a small chat about the dynamics behind the construction of a comic book. You know – the writer, the artist, the editor…the people that put those panels, drawings and word balloons together into some form of a coherent narrative that employs both sides of a reader’s brain. It’s a tricky business, that. One that takes a lot of work.
As a regular reader of comic books, I often take that work for granted. My weekly ritual of heading out on a Wednesday to the local comic book shop means I buy a particular comic, go home, hit the couch, flip through it – loving or hating the story, gushing over or detesting the art – slip it into a plastic bag (with a backboard, of course), tape it shut and file it away in one of my many long, cardboard boxes (alphabetically and numerically), never once pondering the amount of time, effort and sheer work that went into those 22 pages by the various creators involved in the process.
So, every once in a while, I find that it’s a good idea to keep myself, as a reader of comics, honest.
Every once in a while, as it turns out, is yearly. That’s when I, along with some of the other writers of Biff Bam Pop!, put our crazy minds together and come up with spooky, Halloween-centric, short comics for you to flip through and, hopefully, enjoy. Our first try at this endeavour was last year with Biff Bam Boo! This year we’re back – bigger and better! Well, you be the judge of that!
In about two weeks time, Biff Bam Pop! will be showcasing four chilling comic book tales again. Andy Burns, this website’s Editor-In-Chief and resident maestro, hinted to this fact on Twitter a few days back. Maybe it was Facebook. I can’t recall. I was too busy to pay attention. You see, I’m working on the art for the different stories again – and right now is crunch time. I’m lost to all extraneous stimuli.
Normally, an announcement like this would come from Andy himself (which may yet formally occur), but he’s given me the go ahead in this column to talk about the kind of work that’s related to a project like this.
Let me tell you: it’s a lot.
We’ve got four writers back for this round of comics: Andy Burns, David Ward, Scotty G and Ian Rogers. Denny B, an artist friend of ours, has stepped up and added his services to the stories as well, which is a great thing as it takes some of the art chore burden off of me – and it’s always great sharing projects like this with good pals. I’m glad we’re all in it together. That said, we all have full time jobs and families and lives outside of comics and films and television and books and video games. I know that sometimes it may not seem that way, but it’s true. Besides, the Biff Bam Boo! comics don’t pay. Even if they did, it wouldn’t be much. No, it’s a labour of love for all of us and, like I mentioned, earlier, makes one respect the process of comic book creation all the more.
First off, the writers have to come up with a story idea. And then they write it. This is after, and sometimes in-between bouts of, editing public service announcements, crafting content articles while designing web pages, drafting radio commercial spots and figuring out timing sequences and code-crunching video game level enhancements. That’s what we do, collectively, amongst other life-affirming endeavours, from nine to five, Monday thru Friday. If life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, then these, for a certain duration, are the other plans – and life is the Biff Bam Boo! comic book story. It’s a little weird saying that.
After a number of excited emails, and the odd breakfast meeting on a Saturday morning (oh how I love those!), the artists, namely Denny B and I, are off to the races, interpreting scripts and figuring out facial expressions, angles and shadows. We’re basically ball and chained to our drafting tables, hands stained with India ink and eyes glazed over by caffeine ingestion. Then there’s the obligatory scanning of artwork, more emails, layout and design using Adobe Creative Suite, more emails, the figuring out of HTML code, more emails and finally, presentation. This is a process that started in the summer and only culminates now, nearly four months later. Everybody chips in to the whole of the project.
And I mean everybody.
You see, here’s where you punch the clock. The rest of the work is up to you, the reader.
If all goes according to plan, this Halloween we’ll trick you into thinking that your job, as important as it is (and it’s very, very important), is not work at all. God knows you’re not going to get paid for it!
This Halloween, be sure to let us, the writers, artists, graphic designers, editors and web content developers of Biff Bam Boo! know if we’ve fooled ya!
That’ll be a nice treat for all of us indeed!