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Feldstein’s Method

OK, so reading up a bit on Al Feldstein’s process; he would start on page one and hand write in pencil directly on the bristol board, writing the text and indicating narration plates and speech bubbles, but no art. As in, he was writing it in one go. If he found himself on page five out of eight, he’d be like “OK, time to start writing towards a goal in this 🐝”.

Then he’d send it to Jim Wroten who’d, in ink, put in lettering, balloons and panels. And only then once all that was in place, the artist (often Feldstein himself) would go to work on that same board.

Sienkiewicz has a similar method: step one panels & handlettering with nary a sketch, step two art. For his own writing, at least—I wonder how he worked with Claremont or Miller, both of whom famously preferred “Marvel Method”: loose outline, artist breaks down and layouts and finishes art, ‘scripter’ adds text post-hoc.

On the next page (this is “Child of Tomorrow”, p186), Feldstein comments on the Marvel Method:

“Well. I remembered after — we were put out of business, and I was doing Mad — that I had heard Marvel, Stan Lee, that they were doing the artwork first, and then writing the story around it, or something. Weird things that were going on that I never quite understood — how they could successfully produce a viable story by reversing the whole process.”

Thing is. Text is more mutable than art. It’s easier to rewrite a sentence than to redraw a panel. But this goes both ways: you might wanna do text first because then you can iterate—that’s how Japanese comics are made, editors approve or suggest changes to a storyboard, and then the second iteration is the comic— but that’s not what Feldstein was doing. After the story conference he went upstairs and wrote directly on the final board from page one through page eight. So it’s a worst of both worlds method (that apparently worked because his comics were brilliant).

He didn’t take advantage of the iterativability of text-first or the mutability of text-last. In a text-last method like the Marvel Method, you could write words that perfectly suited the nuances in a facial expression or pose. Y’all know Claremont is my favorite writer because of how well he worked in that framework. Just making those panels come to life with thought and emotion.