Shelly Bond: When you first read issue #104 of FABLES script and noticed that a double-page spread is on the table, what's your first reaction? Panic? Joy? I believe you once told me you disliked them...
Mark Buckingham: These days it's joy but, yes, once upon a time they often used to fill me with dread. I used to find them daunting. I have mostly gotten over that by not getting too preoccupied by the details, but instead focus on a major element or structural framework that will help give the piece it's initial impact. After that you can then begin to work in all the smaller details without fear of getting lost.
SB: What's your process? How do you decide whether to give us a high angle shot vs. a direct widescreen shot or a domineering and often low angle?
MB: With the double page spread in #104 my initial thought was to do a straight forward side view approach, with the super team rushing into action from the left and Mister Dark dominating the right side, but that just didn't seem powerful enough.
I realised that the central moment of the action was going to be Grimble hitting Dark.
I chose a high angle, directly above Mister Dark's head, from which the point of impact of the punch would dominate the image, giving the spread the raw power at it's heart I was looking for.
Working out from this I soon became aware that if I positioned their arms and legs carefully I could create a series of negative spaces through out the scene that would effectively become insert panels to frame each of the other heroes as they leapt into action and demonstrated the use their powers.
SB:What was your favorite double-page spread to draw in FABLES?
MB: Tough to pick one. I like them all so much these days that I rarely sell any. I keep them for display at home and for exhibitions. I really like the one of modern military fighting the Adversary's medieval army in Sons of Empire. The Dragons attacking the airship in War and Pieces. Blue Beard and Shere Kahn at the head of an army in The Good Prince, and the one of Flycatcher relaxing in the long grass talking to the assembled flock of birds. I like the spread of the wooden army being assembled in March of the wooden soldiers, along with the one of them fighting against Beast, Grimble, Hobbes, Weyland and Blue. When I look back at some of these I'm amazed at the detail I put in! One of my all time favorites is still the Valley of Sleeping Giants from my first story arc on Animal Farm.
SB: Your least favorite?
MB: I must admit I'm never as keen on large crowds just standing around. Much tougher to make those interesting. Especially if there are a lot of regular looking people. Scenes at the Farm are easier because I can add animals and fantasy creatures into the mix.
SB: What's your all-time favorite double-page spread in comics?
MB: Wow! Tough question! All the ones that spring most immediately to mind are Jack Kirby ones. He did some amazing ones in all of his 70's series for DC. My up coming variant cover for STRANGE ADVENTURES #1 was in part a tribute to his Promethean Giants double page spread from New Gods #5. Magnificent!