Creating Comics with SCAR

This article originally published in DECAY #3, July 2010.

In the early days we did comicbook stories on the fly. We’d begin with a basic idea and scenario, often inspired by a drawing we’d produced or a conversation we’d had, then start. Pencils were little more than thumbnails and we’d be writing the script as we progressed, allowing the story to evolve as we worked. It was very intuitive, stream of consciousness.

The first installment of our strip, Savage Bitch, which we produced for ACP (Austalian Consolidated Press), was created in a similar way, one page a week. It was set on Nemesis, the same fictional world as an earlier tale from Phantastique magazine called Jungle Ghoul Girls. Since, we’ve set several tales on the planet Nemesis and further developed its mythology. Apart from this, Savage Bitch had a loose cast of characters and a basic set-up, only. As it progressed the characters gradually fleshed out and story details developed to the point where it was necessary for us to produce the rest of the script and define specific details. Same went for the art, the pencils became more precise and the strip wound up being carefully planned rather than improvised.

These days, we create a full, edited script first. The pencils are as tight as we can get them and incorporate the lettering as part of the layout and design before inking begins. Amazulu was produced following this method. It is also set on Nemesis, as are several of our other tales, and incorporates the mythology of that world, which is an integral part of our Alien Eden comics and stories.

But nothing is ever set in stone. There is always room for change.

Page 10, Panel 1 of Amazulu is an example. The protagonists approach the steps of a temple, the entrance of which was originally flanked by statues. We decided that it’d serve the drama better to convert them into living beings, but we wanted them to be more freakish, so we toyed with the concept of a mutated four-armed variation of the antagonistic Amazombies, which we called Gror’gomi.

Pencil rough of the weird Gror’gomi form Amazulu story

Figure 1 (left) shows a pencil rough of one of the weird Gror’gomi, which had also become a form of Amazombies and integrated into the story and action. She was drawn on the back of an envelope, where many of our ideas are initially conceived.

Figure 2 (below) shows pencils of the protagonist, Xarba, combating a crazed sword-wielding Gror’gomi. This was originally intended to be a spectacular splash page.

Pencils of Xarba, combating a sword-wielding Gror’gomi

Figure 3 (below) Before the background was added, along with additional text, these two foreground figures were inked in. Limited time and space meant that this scene had to be dropped, along with some other interludes. To incorporate any extra scenes, Amazulu would have ended up becoming a much longer story.

Pencils of Xarba, combating a sword-wielding Gror’gomi

Lastly, just where did this weird creature come from? Apart from our fertile imaginations, these four-armed terrors are part inspired by the sword-wielding, multi-limbed Kali from Golden Voyage of Sinbad, one of our favorite fantasy flicks, and a homage to the menagerie of bizarre creatures imagined by the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Clark Ashton Smith, Lovecraft, Robert E.Howard, etc, who are among the most innovative and influential of all writers of genre fiction.

AMAZULU originally published in DECAY #2, May 2010.