for joining me, guys. So, where to begin? How
did each of you come to be involved with Dark
Horse and the Indy comic adventures?
(RW): I've been writing for the Star
Wars comics with Dark Horse for the past
few years, and I've really enjoyed that. When
the editors on the Star
Wars line revealed that they'd be launching
new Indy comics I decided to forego the reticent
and just pretty much begged to be allowed to pitch
for the Indy books. Eventually they took pity
on me and allowed me to have a shot at it. I think
Raiders is about
as good as movie entertainment gets, so I'm a
(PG): I'm working on a comic for another
company with a guy who had done some art for the
Clone Wars Adventures
books and he mentioned to me that Dark Horse didn't
have a writer yet for the
Indiana Jones Adventures books. So, I got
permission to pitch a story and basically spent
a fevered ten days writing up a pitch, convinced
the whole time that I'd never actually get the
gig. Turned it in, again, convinced that it would
get shot down immediately. And to my surprise,
it got the go ahead.
Can you describe
in more detail the role or expertise each of you
are bringing to the current Indiana Jones installment?
I'll be writing the initial four-issue Indiana
Jones adventure, Indy
and the Tomb of the Gods.
I wrote Indiana Jones
Adventures: Volume 1. It's the all ages
Indy book, a stand alone, globe trotting adventure.
I don't know that I brought any expertise to writing
it, per se, but I tried to do my darnedest to
make it a satisfying Indy book, filled with historical
details, thrills and spills.
What were your thoughts
when invited to revive Indiana Jones through Dark
of the Gods
comic cover - issue #1.
As I said earlier, I was absolutely thrilled.
It all comes back to being a kid and being a huge
fan of Indy and Star
Wars. As a 'grown-up,' having the opportunity
to actually write their adventures is a dream
come true. Also, it does bring with it a certain
pressure. You have to get the characters right.
There's a lot of passionate fans out there who
will holler loudly if they think you're slipping
away from the character's core. But it's fun.
You know the movies, you have a feel for what's
right. After all, as I say, I'm primarily a fan
This is actually my first published comic book
work. My thoughts, upon being asked to write the
book, went something like "oh my sweet god
what have I gotten myself into I can't possibly
write a character as big as Indiana Jones. Just
thinking about him leaves me slack jawed and star
struck." So yeah, I felt huge pressure. But
you know, once I got into it, it wasn't that bad.
Indiana Jones is a character that I grew up with
and it was really fun and a great honor to get
to write a story for him.
Can you share
with us how the comic’s story is created?
I stare at the wall until I cry and smash my computer
up. Then I finally drink lots of coffee, sit down
and get on with it. The ideas come from all sorts
of areas. With Tomb the book's editor, Jeremy
Barlow, and I started knocking a few ideas back
and forth until we hit on one we were both excited
by. Then I kind of fleshed it out into pitch form,
saying what I thought an Indy comic series should
have that the movies don't have. Then you do some
research. Then it's the tricky business of nailing
the plot breakdown, and you go through a few drafts
of that, taking on board editorial comments on
the way. Then you finally get to the scripting
stage. It's a tough process. The version we're
currently on has lost characters and entire scenes
from the initial version. It's a challenging process.
My process was probably simpler than Rob's as
my story is shorter than his and the stakes not
quite as high. To get the job, I basically had
to have a full-fledged story already written out
in synopsis form. So for me, it was a lot of sitting
in a corner of my apartment trying to remember
every cool thing I'd ever read about every culture
in the world and then trying to figure out how
to involve Indy in them. I think I scrapped two
complete adventure ideas before settling on the
one that I actually went with and that got approved.
After that, I pitched the story. The editor gave
it the go ahead. And then it went over to Lucasfilm
for their approvals; they had to okay the story
on both a character level and a continuity level.
And from there I just sank my teeth into getting
the script done; which is actually pretty challenging,
as you want every scene to feel necessary to the
story but not too deliberate. So it feels like
it's all flowing logically. This involves thinking
of traps and ways around traps and ways of triggering
traps and locations for Indy to visit and locales
for Indy to get chased through and lines of Indy-esque
dialogue and well... it's a real process.
Wait, Philip - the script? I
didn't know that comic books were written in script
format. Can you tell us more about that?
Writer Philip Gelatt
Yep, most comics start as scripts. And certainly
the ones that have a separate writer and artist
start as scripts. A comic script basically gives
you the whole comic but in words. I'm trying to
think how best to describe it. I mean I'll basically
say "Page 1 Panel 1" and then I'll describe
the image we see, you know like "Marcus walks
in from the cold, his jacket pulled tight up around
his face. The hotel lobby around him is lit by
a roaring fire and Marcus is obviously looking
for someone." Something like that. And then
you write in the dialogue as well. Format wise,
comic scripts tend to look like something between
a film script and a novel.
It's a real mind exercise though,
as you don't quite know how the artist will draw
what you're describing and I'm still at the point
where I'm kind of paranoid about how much dialogue
you can fit into a panel. I always have moments
where I'm afraid that someone will look at my
script and not be able to figure out a damn word
that I'm writing.
I really like to view comics as
an collaborative art more than anything else,
so I try to make the script read like a conversation.
Like I'm talking to someone about how I think
it should look, and then they can interpret that
as they want.
Ethen (the artist on my book) has
done a remarkable job with my script; he's changed
a few things, as he sees fit, but every change
has made it that much better. There were some
sequences in there that I was really worried wouldn't
play right on the page, but he managed to fix
any of my oversights.
In fact, one of my favorite things
about writing comics is having the panels come
back to me to see how they actually look. In all
honesty, they normally look very little like how
I pictured them but almost without fail, they
look better than I thought they would.
that when creating a story for Indiana Jones there
are probably some guidelines and dos & don’ts.
How much freedom are you allowed in creating the
comic and how involved is Indy’s creator,
George Lucas, if at all?
Cover of Indy
Adventures: Volume 1
I think, if I remember correctly, the only guideline
I was given was that the story would take place
in '36, between Temple
and Raiders, and
that Marion and/or Abner Ravenwood weren't to
be involved. Apart from that there's been a fair
amount of freedom. If you've seen and loved the
Indy movies, you get the tone and the character
and go from there. And editorial will pull you
up on anything that shouldn't be included. As
for George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, I'm pretty
sure that they have no direct involvement, although
everything is cleared through Lucasfilm.
My guidelines were similar to Rob's. I was told
that my story should take place before the films,
that they wanted a younger Indy for this book
which suited me just fine. And then after turning
in my synopsis I was given a few more guidelines.
For example, I tried to have a story where the
object Indy was hunting didn't get lost at the
end, figuring that'd be a fun spin on the normal
form. But I was told that that particular point
of Indy storytelling was something I had to use.
There were a few other things too, but ultimately
everything they asked me to change was pretty
easy to change and made the story better than
it had been.
I was, actually, expecting more
notes on how I had written Indy. I think I thought
I was being edgier than I actually was in writing
him. I really wanted him to have a desperation
about him in this book, to be a bit of a scoundrel.
And that went over just fine.
I honestly don't know how involved
Lucas is with the approval process for the books.
I'd imagine he is involved in a kind of general
Will we see
any characters from past issues brought into the
new series of Indiana Jones comics, even if they
don't appear in Indiana
Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull?
Marcus Brody in Indiana
I can't speak for the future but, with Tomb
the only existing Indy character you'll see is
Marcus. We're giving Indy an entirely new cast
here, with new regular characters who'll reappear
as the series progresses. We want to give these
Indy comics a feel all of their own and make them
friendly to new readers.
In Indy Adventures
I have Marcus, as well. As well as a certain familiar,
dastardly Frenchman. And Dr. Jones Sr. gets a
name drop, though he doesn't appear in the book
itself. I don't know what will happen in the second
Volume of Indy Adventures,
but I'd imagine the book will start to build its
own stable of characters.
been your favorite Indiana Jones film and how
did it inspire or affect your work?
It's Raiders for
me, definitely. The tone, the balance between
reality and fantasy, with just the right amount
of supernatural. It's near perfect. I've been
studying it for writing this series, breaking
it down into scenes, trying to gauge the pacing.
It's an astonishingly good screenplay. Everyone
remembers the action sequences but the dialogue's
wonderful, the characters and the choices they
make are so memorable. Raiders
takes some beating. The other two Indy movies
both have their moments, but…
Again, I have to agree with Rob. Raiders
is the best Indy film and I've gotten into many
a loud and exhaustive fight on the issue. It's
the one I watched a back to back before writing
my book as well. Though, I have to say, the opening
sequence in Temple of
Doom is just as good as anything in Raiders.
With the added bonus of the musical number, that
really bring something fantastical and appealing
to the proceedings.
As for the specific influence Raiders
had on Indy Adventures,
I tried to play it like a direct prequel to Raiders
(or Temple of Doom,
chronologically speaking). Tried to make it feel
like this is an adventure Indy could have easily
had before the bigger adventures in the films.
The more I worked on the story I was doing, the
more I realized that a lot of what I was doing
was taking direct inspiration from Raiders;
similar locations, a few similar setups, things
like that. That film is really something and I
couldn't, nor did I want to, escape its influence.
Will future storylines be independent
from issue to issue or will we again see comic
sagas like Indiana
Jones and the Fate of Atlantis?
A scene from
of the Gods.
I think you'll be looking at individual separate
arcs that can pull in new readers each time, and
that can easily fit into the graphic novel format.
But, as I've said, certain characters will reappear.
Part of the plan for the new series was to give
Indy recurring bad guys and accomplices, get the
readers to like these new players, and put them
in real danger, because Indy's always going to
make it out alive. But those with him…maybe
will probably be all stand alone books, as that's
how the all-ages things tend to go. They're fun
books though, they move quick and they give you
a full story in one burst.
Can you give us a glimpse into the timeline of
new Indy comics? For example, would they fill
in the gaps leading from Indiana
Jones and the Last Crusade
of the Crystal Skull
or be random issues of Indy adventures?
Like I said earlier, Tomb
takes place in 1936. Where we go from there we'll
have to see.
I suspect with Indiana
Jones Adventures the books will stay pretty
much before the movies themselves. But this is
up to the editors, more or less.
has been receiving more and more fan created comic
drawings. What advice could you give to those
seeking a career in comics? What are some things
they could do to learn the skills necessary to
From a writer's point of view I'd advise learning
your craft. A lot of people just think you can
either write or you can't. That's nonsense. You
can learn structure. You can learn economy of
dialogue and pacing. Read books such as Writers
on Comics Scriptwriting by Mark Salisbury,
by Scott McCloud and Story
by Robert McKee (which is about writing screenplays,
primarily, although most of what he says translates
to writing any stories). Writing's like learning
a musical instrument, the more you practice, the
better you'll get.
If you want to write comics, then you need to
read comics and pay extra close attention to how
the stories you love get told. Watch movies too,
and don't just watch them for their stories but
look at how they're constructed. Look at how long
it takes them to get from one plot point to another.
I really think that one of the most important
things you can learn about storytelling is how
to manipulate the pace of a story. A bad story
that is paced really well will leave people thinking
they've heard a good story. And a good story,
expertly paced, well... that's a powerful thing.
Beyond that, you have to try to make connections,
meet people in comics, and go from there. And
frankly, I'm pretty new at the whole writing thing,
so I probably shouldn't be giving too much advice.
Thanks a million guys! This has
been a lot of fun. Our Indy fans, TR.N staff and
myself wish all the best and continued success!
To learn more about Rob Williams
visit him online at robwilliamscomics.co.uk
and don't forget to grab your copy of Volume One
of the new Dark Horse Indiana Jones Adventures
comic! You can learn more by visiting darkhorse.com.