Well, tough for me.

The description for this panel was once completely different. In fact this whole scene played out different. In the end, I wrote out this page, and the previous page, on Post-It notes.

Luckily, being the writer and the illustrator means I know what I mean(t) when I scribble down ideas. Most of the time.

This panel, panel 1 on page 19, continues from the last panel on page 18; the character (no names, yet – that’s later) swings his double-bladed way-too-big-sword up to strike Sara – and in this panel, he swings back down with incredible speed – Sara got her cry of defiance/plea in on the last page – there’d be no time for it now.

First up, the rough of the panel. I work entirely digitally on The Worlds Between Us – don’t think there’s much market for original art for now, so why spend resources. This works just as well, and is cleaner from me.

I didn’t do my typical stick-figure-layout of the page, and just started sketching this. Looked great at the time. Ended up inking it too;

Only after did it feel… boring. There’s movement implied by the speed lines, but… his pose just sorta… eh. You could remove those speed lines and sword and put him leaning on the railing of the Titanic. I also envisioned something more threatening to the reader. I like to engage the reader – put them in peril as much as our protagonists. Even if you accept this as him slashing down on someone – it’s not you. It’s someone off to the side.

So I did this panel;

I ended up using the pose from the previous try in silhouette, but then redrew the sword to be angled towards us a bit more.

Better, but now boring in another way; we’ve lost the figure to look at. It’s just a black blob. And the speed lines weren’t working.

I finally took some posing dummies and action figures out, and started swinging around a yard stick (and watching staff fighting videos on YouTube) to get the pose I wanted. Sometimes the realistic pose isn’t the most engaging one. But I finally came close on one sketch, so I jumped on it.

And that’s how you get the final panel; a pleasing shot of the head of the character (love that skull thing), the blade coming more at us (directly at us, and we wouldn’t be able to see more than a thin sliver of the blade, which isn’t interesting either), and an overly exaggerated pose of that chopping motion. And a good swirl of speed lines indicating the massive speed these, um, characters can move at.

And that’s when I said “stop. If you keep going – it’ll just get crappy again.”

Sometimes things come out just like you thought of them. Sometimes they come out better. Sometimes they come out worse. And sometimes they come out different, but good enough, and you do better and try even harder with the next panel.

Luckily, with comics, you have all those individual illustrations to tell the story. And I need to learn not to get bogged down by one.

Yet I wrote a whole post about this one. Whoops.