TPage 253 is now a thing that exists in the world, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should.

1. After spending several pages telling how Jason Occult became the Ultimage, I’m glad we’ve shifted our focus back to Brianna. Jason only appears once on this page, off to the side, and he doesn’t speak.

2. Our previous Electric Team flashbacks were, with the exception of Leeta’s, four pages long.  Brianna’s is going to be 25. She’s getting a lot more page space, but the other flashbacks were all one defining moment from a character’s youth; Brianna’s is telling her whole life story. So even though hers is much longer, it’s way more condensed.

3. Brianna’s Story could easily be a 12 issue mini-series. Squeezing it all into 30 pages requires the use of a high-level writing technique called “Tell, Don’t Show.” But seriously, the other flashbacks have been much more grounded in one moment in time, and have played out moment to moment. This one covers a lot of ground in the captions, summarizing whole years. As I’ve alluded to before, the key is to remember that is Brianna’s story, not Jason’s. Jason’s got his whole epic tale going on, battling to keep control of the castle, and we’re going to mostly ignore that, and only touch on it when it becomes relevant to Brianna. It’s helpful to imagine that there has already been a comic book series about the Terror of the Ultimage, and we’re summarizing the high points as background to the story we’re telling. Like a story set during World War II; you don’t have to explain the whole geopolitical situation, or all the battles, just give a sense of what’s going on.

4. I should mention that, in using this approach, I am basically ripping off what Kurt Busiek does in his series Astro City. Astro City, which is one of my all-time favorite comic book series, imagines a super-hero world like those you find in comics, and then tells relatable human stories set in that world. Busiek’s done the thing where he made up a whole epic super-hero saga, then put it in the background of the story he’s telling.

5. Hey, let’s talk about page layout. I’ve mentioned several times in the past that I’ve handed over the bulk of the page layout decision-making authority to Sam. For a long time I broke the script up into panels, then gave suggestions for the how the panels should be arranged on the page. For our current story, I switched over to providing dialogue and general stage directions and letting Sam do all the layout. It was hard for me to let go, but my faith in Sam is continually rewarded. I’m very pleased with this page, because the layout is so different from what I would have come up with; my layouts tend to be functional and fairly predictable. Look how Sam started with the short wide panel, placing Brianna and Jason equidistant from Shelly. Then she made a large panel of the two friends reunited, then two stacked smaller panels of them trying to have fun in the castle . . . it’s nice, I like how she makes time flow across the page.

6. I talk about the decision-making process behind the scripts, so it probably sounds like I do all writing, but the story is still very much a collaboration with Abi. Abi created Shelly, for instance. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about Shelly at first, but Abi insisted, and she became an important part of the story.

When we got to page 245, I assumed we were done with Shelly, and wrote a line that implied that Brianna never saw her again. Abi disagreed, so I toned down the language, and changed it to, “Shelly had been such a good friend to me, I should’ve at least said good-bye. But, I didn’t.”  That left the door open for Shelly to come back. Then, months later, I realized what we needed to make this part of the story work was to bring Shelly back, hence this page.

7. Poor Shelly. Imagine that your best friend fell for a guy, and you didn’t like him, you thought he was a bad influence, and then your friend ran off with him. Then, years later, the guy came and got you, and he was a cosmic super-villain now, and brought you to his castle that he’s ruling over as an evil overlord. That would be very stressful.

8. I like that feast panel. Brianna’s best moment in the first chapter of The Electric Team is when she doesn’t know what corn is, but finds it delightful. She’s always open to new culinary experiences.

9. I’m happy I discovered this Ten Notes format. It’s lower pressure because I don’t have to come up with transitions between paragraphs, and I don’t have to worry if something fits. Every thought just has its own number, and if its kind of random or extraneous, that’s fine. I write a lot more with this format than I did without it. Unfortunately, I don’t always have ten things to say. Like today.

10. Why is Shelly taking Brianna to the dungeon? The answer will CHANGE BRIANNA’S LIFE FOREVER! No, seriously, it will. Tune in next week!