Matt Kindt talks REVOLVER process--Day 3
Thumbnails. This, to me, is where all of the real writing happens. Up until now everything has been about building the plot and the characters—the framework. But in the thumbnails, this is where it turns into “comics.” I don’t type out a script, I draw the script. This is where all the pacing is determined and how the actual story is going to be told. A series of small panels? Large widescreen shots? Splash pages? All of that happens now. At this point, the characters start talking in my head and I will make notes to the side of the thumbnails with dialogue ideas. These bits of dialogue and narration will constantly change up until the lettering stage as I write and re-write and re-think everything.
It takes a long time to bring one page of art from thumbnails to pencils to inks to color. In that time I end up thinking about each page and each bit of dialogue for hours. It’s one of the great side-effects of writing and drawing a book – you end up spending so much more time with the characters and the ideas than either a writer or artist. So at the end of that book you have had the time to think absolutely everything through to the point of being sick of it (that usually goes away once the book hits the stores).
The beauty of working in thumbnails like this is that it becomes so easy to add a page or rewrite a sequence of pages. It’s all visual so I can tell immediately if it’s going to work or if there are too many small panels bunched together in a chapter or if there needs to be a break or a splash page with a large moment. All of that is really easy to work out at this stage as the story becomes soft and mold-able.
I always feel like once the thumbnails for the entire book are done, then the book is finished in my mind. Everything that comes after: pencils, inks, color, letters…it’s all production work. There’s art to it all of course but the physical mark-making is sort of the visceral acting out of something that is already set in stone. It’s fun (for a while) but the thrill of creating sort of ends here.
At the end of this stage is one more step that, up until now, I’d completely avoided. A full script. It ended up coming down to the money and the contract. In the contract Vertigo pays for a script. But the way I normally work I don’t ever produce a full script. But since I was being paid to produce one I felt obligated to turn it in. So after I completed my normal writing process, I went back through and did a full script to accompany the thumbnails. It was an interesting exercise and actually helped the book I think as it added one more re-write into my process and helped my editors get a better picture of what the final product was going to look like.
Even after all that you can still see some of my hand-written notes at the top of the page for additional story ideas to incorporate into the book. Nothing is ever really finished.