A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible – GETTING OVER WOMEN – prints for sale at Topatoco!
Early draft from September 22, 2004
A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible – CAROLINE’S DOPPELGANGER – prints for sale! http://topatoco.com/alil
This episode from 2006 remains one of my favorites. This morning I was digging around and found these rough drafts, which show the layout evolving. I also found some notes I wrote to Dale at the time.
March 8, 2006
The main feature of the page composition is the large panel showing the view across the courtyard to the opposite window, where lurks caroline’s vague likeness. I identified this as the most exciting and spooky moment of the comic, most deserving of resources to achieve its effect. Reading the script, it was the moment that gave me chills. The strangeness which has been slowly building suddenly gives way to an outright scariness.
The comic opens with a normal enough scene (a), except that the wife refers to her daughter as “Caroline’s doppelganger,” which is obviously weird. Until the psychiatrist begins to address CD, there’s a nice opportunity for a silent sequence (b), (c), (d). Originally I was going to show him walking through the house, which could develop a sense of unease in the house, but the psych is not supposed to be uneasy; he’s a grown-up and the house holds no mystery for him. Better to get right to CD and let the unease develop through her. In this draft, I used the second panel to show the psych’s face, as he steals another moment of rest before heeding his wife. This might be a good chance to show his feeling about CD, e.g. ambivalence. (c) shows the psych in silhouette, cracking open the door to CD’s room, and (d) is a reverse shot, the first image of CD, a scared looking shadow.
A generous-sized panel shows the psych and CD together in (e), as well as providing a chance to elaborate on CD’s room. Here, the first couple lines of their dialogue are exchanged (“aww, sweetheart!…”; “it makes me think I’m not real”). (f), though badly drawn, it supposed to be the psych’s sympathetic, paternal face looking down at his daughter’s doppelganger, saying “you’re so much more to us than just the ghostly double of our long-gone daughter!” This line deserves emphasis because it’s an important plot element.
The next panel, (g), delivers the next two lines of dialogue, and the panels continue to grow. The comic began with small panels, a pattern broken by (e), which could do so without arousing suspicion because it’s got the task of establishing the main location of the story, as well as containing two characters interacting, and lots of dialogue. Plus, the more generous panel size contributes to the reader’s feeling that we’ve arrived (as opposed to the earlier panels, which were about moving). However, (f) and (g) continue to grow, a bit surprisingly… I’m going to try to emphasize this, maybe putting a bit more detail into each one, so the reader feels like he’s being drawn closer and closer, almost uncomfortably.
Then, (h) strikes like the soundtrack hit we’ve been waiting for. This panel should probably be askew, like a tear. (h) is about the gap between the two windows, and likewise it creates a gap between the two parts of the comic, both compositionally and in the sense that it complicates everything that happens afterwards.
The rest of the draft is poorly paced, but basically we’ve got (i), (j) and (k) dealing with CD and the psych’s subsequent dialogue, including when he shines the light across the way. I’m not really sure how to handle this gesture, and welcome suggestions. It feels a little bit less useful than it should be… almost is volunteering to be cut. It could make the comic a bit tighter. I know it allows CD to say she saw a flash, but in a sense even that is a reiteration of the fact that she thinks she sees Caroline in the opposite window. Anyway, in (l) and (m), the mother arrives and puts CD to bed again.
(n) shows the psych, back out in the hallway, speaking to no one (his voice is low and CD can’t hear) the last line, about how Caroline’s eyes were brighter. Originally I’d imagined him saying this to CD as he leaves her room, but that’s a bit redundant; his wife has just made a shocking and hurtful statement delivered as a reassurance. Speaking to himself, his wife already back in bed and CD in her room, it becomes more about his own painful reflection. I think that helps, because throughout the story, he and his wife are so inexplicably cruel and off-key when trying to comfort CD… There must be some way to develop their feelings about her.
The psych seems like a guy who is trying to feel okay about what he has left. He’s suffered loss and he’s looking for a way to deal with his memories. He really has not arrived at a graceful acceptance: his interactions with CD refer constantly to Caroline, in fact depending on them, and the nature of CD’s existence is uncertain.
I’m not really sure about the mother. She’s less giving, more secretive…
Sorry for the comments about the script at this somewhat late stage. I feel like I should have raised those questions during the week you were working on this one, but it’s hard for me to think it out fully until I’m drawing it. I guess it’s always evolving. Anyway, I really think this is one of your best scripts, and has the potential to lead into a host of fascinating situations.
March 13, 2006
A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible – THE SECRET OF YOUR BIRTH – prints for sale! http://topatoco.com/alil