Tag Archives: Thomas Hedglen

13Oct/20

Craft: Brent Larson – Subtext in Dialogue

Since I’m a screenwriter, and movies offer more in shared experiences than comics, I ask you to consider this scene from Pulp Fiction

JULES (Samuel L. Jackson) and VINCENT (John Travolta) drive down an LA street. Both wear identical black suits.

VINCENT: Where are we going?

JULES: To find this guy who stole our boss’s briefcase, which has something weird and glowy in it.

VINCENT. You think we’ll have to kill this guy?

They pull up to an apartment building. They get out and open the trunk, where they have an assortment of weaponry.

JULES: Probably.

VINCENT: How many guys you think are up there?

JULES: Four, maybe five? But I’m not worried. Life is meaningless. I just try to plus it up by being dramatic.

VINCENT: Aw, don’t be so gloomy. I enjoy life, especially when I’m taking drugs. 

JULES: Yeah, I guess. You know, we go back a long way, don’t we? I enjoy our friendship, mother blankity-blank.

They walk into an apartment, surprising several young guys lounging about.

VINCENT: Don’t be afraid, we’re not here to kill you… haha, kidding! We’re both psychotic!

If Quentin Tarantino had written that, he’d be running a Payless Shoe Source in Bakersfield and we would never know his name. His masterful ability to craft dialogue definitely applies to comics. I’ve tried to incorporate several principles into my comic Kayless, but I’ll expound on just one because it’s such a pitfall in my own writing… using subtext and avoiding the information dump. 

For those who haven’t seen Pulp Fiction, in their actual opening conversation, Jules and Vincent talk about, in order, drug laws in Amsterdam, how Europe is different from the US, the Royale with cheese, their boss’s wife, and what a TV pilot is. After they burst into the apartment, they discuss burger joints and Jules’s favorite Bible verse. All the information I wrote into the example is covered, it’s just barely said in the dialogue. Meanwhile, the audience is asking, Who are these guys? What do they feel about this horrific act? How is Jules fundamentally different from Vincent? All these questions are answered in a conversation that seems inordinately centered on nothing.

Movies, and comics, are a visual medium. That means we have an entire palette of information presentation apart from words. Facial expressions, postures, and random actions all communicate something. If a man tells his wife, “My mom wants to visit this weekend,” and his wife says “Oh, good,” and starts cleaning the silver candlesticks, this says a lot – her mother-in-law stresses her out, makes her feel inadequate, is maybe nitpicky. And the dialogue, albeit brief, complements this. She doesn’t feel free to tell her husband how she feels, which then tells us something about him, too. Maybe he’s oblivious or compares her to his mom. So many things you can use as a writer, all of which would have been stifled if, instead, she’d said, “Oh, great! Not again!”

Upcoming cover to Kayless #3: Thomas Hedglen, Ryan Brooner, Mickey Clausen

Here’s a personal example. In the upcoming Kayless #3, Scott visits his father in prison. They talk about Scott’s military record, why his dad is in prison, and how he feels about it. That’s the information side of things. But what’s really going on is a battle for power. Scott’s dad has kept him under his thumb his whole life, and Scott desperately wishes to tell him he can’t control him anymore. Comic real estate is smaller than a movie, so I had to be choosy with my words and move things quickly, but that didn’t mean the conversation had to be info-heavy. I’ll let you read it and tell me if I succeeded. 

Whenever I write dialogue, I then go back and check if it’s solely conveying information. If so, I look for ways to rewrite it as subtext, or present other visual elements to communicate what’s needed. Writers are often obsessed with their own cleverness, and I am no exception (neither, I suspect, is Tarantino). If I detect any of those self-serving impulses in my dialogue, I rework it so it sounds organic to my characters. Ultimately, I want my readers to think my characters are clever, not me. I’m always happy to share the credit.

02Jan/20

Silverline: Looking ahead to year 2(020)

2020 looks to be a busy year for Silverline…and that’s pretty exciting to all of us!

Panels from Friar Rush #1

For non-comics, we’ll be launching a weekly live stream. Current plan is for them to be Wednesday’s at 8pm EST. We’ll have a couple of different segments, including an indy comic review and a segment on the craft of making comics. Stay tuned for the exact launch date for it.

We’re still working on appearances for 2020, we’ve already been invited back to Daytona Beach Comic Con—and have accepted. Just not sure exactly which ones of us will be there. Roland will be at Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, his first show ever in the state of PA! More dates and appearances to come, be we hope to see a bunch of you at a bunch of shows!

We’ve got a big slate of books we’ll be releasing in 2020, so many that we may experiment with some Silverline crowdfund “packages.” Meaning, more than one book per crowdfund. Honestly, it’s exciting to look at this list to see all the content will be delivering to you—we know you’re gonna like them!

Mentioned last week in title only, the projects that are nearly complete and should ready to crowdfund very soon:

*Bloodline, 1 shot: by Sidney Williams (writer), Rob Sachetto (penciller), Terry Pallot (inker), Brian Dale (letterer). This one is finished except for the colors, which is being done by Keith Wood.

*Friar Rush #1, 3 issue mini: by Sidney Williams (writer), Marc Thomas (penciller), John Martin (inker), Rebecca Winslow (colorist), Brian Dale (letterer). The first issue is being both colored and lettered at the same time.

A page from DIVINITY #1

*Divinity #1, 4 issue mini: Created by Barb Kaalberg and co-written by R.A. Jones. It also features Alex Sarabia (penciller), Barb Kaalberg (inker), Steve Mattson (colorist) and Mike Belcher (letterer). It is nearly complete.

*Twilight Grimm #1, 4 issue mini: by R.A. Jones (writer) and Rob Davis (artist), Alex Gallimore (colorist), and Mike Belcher (letterer). The first issue only needs color!

*Kayless #2, 4 issue mini: by Brent Larson (writer), Luis Czerniawski (artist), Leandro Huergo (colorist), Mike Belcher (letterer). This issue needs colors and letters.

A bit later in the year, these should be ready:

A page from WHITE DEVIL #1

*Cat & Mouse #3, 4 issue mini: by Roland Mann (writer), Alex Gallimore (penciller), Barb Kaalberg (inker), Kevin Gallegly (colorist).

*White Devil II, 4 issue mini: by R.A. Jones (writer), Jaxon Renick (penciller), with inks by Mike Keeney and Chuck Bordell. The first issue only needs color!

*Trumps book 1; by Roland Mann (writer), Anthony Pereira and Thomas Hedglen (pencillers), Thomas Florimonte (inker), Sid VinBlu (colorist), Brian Dale (letterers).