If you've frequented a comic book website once or twice in your lifetime then chances are you've stumbled across a preview of a comic book at some point. Sometimes its great to get an early look at books that haven't been released yet, even if we don't always understand the context of these stories. Which is why we think this preview is just so cool.
Writer Ande Parks has broken down the fourth issue of THE LONE RANGER, his series from Dynamite Entertainment, page by page to give us an in-depth look at the creative process, and a better idea at what's really going on in the story. Over the course of the next several days, we'll be trickling out commentary from Parks as well as previews for issues #5 and #6 of THE LONE RANGER. Check out the first installment below and let us know if this gets you interested in the ongoing series.
== TEASER ==
The end of issue three left Tonto for dead and, a few days later, the Lone Ranger about to be hung. Despite those cliffhangers, we open issue four with Agent Marle. I wanted to provide a little background on how the Ranger and Tonto ended up in their respective predicaments. I also like making the reader wait just a bit more for the resolution we hope they're anxious about.
Agent Marle (created by Matthews and company in the previous LR series) is a fascinating character. We're portraying him as a conflicted man who tries to serve his country with honor. Unfortunately, the men who run the country don't always have the purest motives. An honorable man trying to do his best in the service of a corrupt system is one of my favorite themes: one I can rarely resist revisiting.
I confess to being quite proud of the Senator's “undignified” line in panel four.
We do a lot of time jumping in this three part, story-within-a-story. I guess it all stems from me wanting to establish Lone Ranger with a noose around his neck right off the bat. That image was the first thing that hit me about this story, and I wanted it to hit the reader right away, too. So, we ended up having to jump back in time to see how our hero got in such a jam. Add to that the fact that I had to jump back even further in our first scene this issue to show why Marle went out in search of the Lone Ranger in the first place... and I suppose it gets kind of complex. I don't think it's too complex for our readers, but it did give me pause. In the end, I couldn't think of a better way.
When last we saw Tonto, Dorsey and his men were leaving him for dead. They clearly didn't know how tough Tonto is. You can chalk it up in part to their inherent racism towards Tonto. They don't see him as their equal in any way, least of all toughness.
Clearly, Tonto is alive, but far from well. This wolf has caught the scent of Tonto's blood and is in search of a late night snack. Lovely textures and coloring by Esteve and Marcelo. I really love this moment of Tonto standing despite his pain and making himself fierce for the wolf. That roar says, “You want this meal, you're gonna have to earn it.”
The next morning. Tonto has survived the night. He's badly injured and has no food or water. He bandages his would and heads out. He can see in what direction Dorsey's men headed out. The Lone Ranger is probably still with those men, and he may need Tonto's help. That's all Tonto needs to know. Time to start walking.
Pages Fourteen and Fifteen
It's interesting that I didn't mark the passage of time or the location with a caption box here. I guess I was tired of them. I think all will be clear as you read this scene. It's a juggling act, figuring out when to let the reader find their way as a scene develops as opposed to just spelling it out. I think I used to often err on the side of cleverness. Now I try to err on the side of clarity.
We meet a very important supporting character here: Marshal Dorsey's wife. She is the character who surprised me the most as I wrote this story. I had some interesting notions hit me as I wrote, and I just went with them. I think they add a very interesting dynamic to the story. She wasn't mentioned much if at all in my outline. I like that I feel more free to roll with surprising characters and story twists than I used to. Maybe I'm growing into this writing thing.
I wonder if leaving a single hand behind on the ranch with the Marshal's wife would have been considered appropriate at the time. I needed it to happen, so I didn't give it much thought. Would it have been scandalous?
I'm proud of the idea that Tonto's horse has basically already kicked this hand's ass before our scene started. It's about to become a trend for this sorry bastard.
Pages Seventeen and Eighteen
Tonto is gravely wounded and has just walked miles through the desert. He can still take this dude. I wanted this to read like Scout is trying to escape from his bonds to assist Tonto. Man, that last panel of page seventeen is brutal. Punched right in his fresh gunshot wound.
Page Twenty to Twenty-Two
I have to confess that keeping the Lone Ranger on the gallows over the span of three issues runs the risk of being tiresome. He's not there much in the climax of the story, as you'll see in the next issue. This scene is vital to our story. Dorsey hasn't been killing and robbing people alone. The whole town of Utopia is complicit. They're willing to stand there and do nothing as a good man is hung. Does Dorsey have that much power over them, or are they just as rotten as he is? Much more on that in our sixth issue.
What do you think of issue #4 of THE LONE RANGER, so far? Is it a book you are looking forward to? What did you think of the commentary from Ande Parks?