When Dawn read the script for this week she came to me with some confusion. She didn’t understand Frank bringing up Suzie’s dad. What prompted that?
“Ah,” I replied. “In the previous panel Suzie is talking about how Eustace might still be alive, and she’s needling Frank about not being willing to go after him.”
“But what’s that have to do with Suzie’s dad?”
It was one of those moments where I realized I needed to back up a bit with my explanation. Except backing up in this case was a reminder of where we’re headed to. Dawn and I had talked over the subject before, on more than one occasion, but… when was the last time? A month? Two? And with all that’s been happening this year, yeah, even my co-conspirator might forget some of those details that we haven’t yet “shared with the class,” i.e. you the readers.
On the audience end, the details surrounding the fate of Jonathan Zane have been kept deliberately obscure, and this latest heated exchange between Suzie and Frank is another example of that. It’s there to be speculated on. Eventually I intend the patience at finding out answers to pay off.
On Dawn’s end, I’m really glad she brought up her confusion because I don’t mean for her to be in the dark, too! I know there are productions out there so secretive and/or so on-the-fly that actors get their scripts and do their scenes a page at a time. They just know that they’re angry at so-and-so. Why? That’s classified.
Seems insane, although I guess with enough talent and judicious editing we oftentimes don’t notice, even though the actor may not actually find out they’re angry because Character A betrayed Character B until much later on.
But that’s not my intent. Dawn is my production designer and director of photography and also in a sense every actor, responsible for conveying ranges of expression. If she doesn’t know (or in this case, doesn’t recall) crucial underlying bits for motivation, that’s going to make her job much harder and might well impact the end result.
So yeah, I have to remind myself to keep her refreshed, like the “previously” segments of a TV show but for stuff that hasn’t actually been produced yet. Otherwise the subtleties of what’s happening may be lost on her, and if they’re lost on her that’s going to have a lot of potential to cascade through and lose the readers as well.
I mean, like I said above sometimes the obfuscation is intentional and a certain level of reader confusion and intrigue is what I’m looking for. But keeping the behind the scenes communication as clear as possible is what I think separates today’s confusion from confusion that persists even later on once all the answers have come forth. If and when the reader goes back through the comic, there should be more “Aha!” than “Huh?”
Keeping the artist reminded (and mindful) of not just present but future is, I think, the key to that.