Typically, I write a script before drawing a strip. That’s logical, right? Well, with this one, for whatever reason, I drew it first. Oh sure, I had an idea about what the strip should be about. I always outline chapters strip-by-strip. I think my outline for this strip was something like “Captain Spectacular and Jerry meet Young CS and Young Jerry. They talk.” That was pretty much it.

When it came time to draw, I happened upon this idea that the two Captains and the two Jerrys wouldn’t really know what to say to each other, in contrast with the way we’ve seen the women handle this whole time travel business. It was gonna be all about pausing and awkward moments, making a double-sized strip the best approach, because in comics space = time. That’s a tip from me to you.

I figured if I did it right then all I’d have to do was have the four exchange simple pleasantries (with all the pausing and silence making for a sort of tense build-up) in the last panel and it would be funny and an inverting of expectations. Which I like to do.

As you can see, it didn’t quite work out that way. First of all, I put way too much acting into the panels. I really made my job a lot harder by not just repeating the same panel four or five times. Instead, I got carried away with things like facial expressions and gestures and there ended up being way more going on in the panels than I’d intended. I could see this was happening even as I was drawing, but without a script to refer back to, I had to put all my faith in my ability make sense of things at the lettering stage.

That’s not an awful way to make comics, but it’s not something I’d generally recommend, especially with a story as complex as SF. Too many moving pieces to leave that much to chance.

What I ended up having to do was the cliched “letting the characters speak to me,” which they do a lot more of these days, admittedly. My original idea was very much “joke first.” Now, I turned to the characters themselves and looked at their faces and tried to figure out what they were thinking. I concocted an entire story of shifting character attitudes and emotions that finally land in a way that makes that last panel make sense. Maybe no one can figure out what Captain Spectacular is thinking over the course of these 6 panels, but I do and that’s the most important thing.

For the most part, I still got to keep the idea for a mostly silent double-sized strip, but to an entirely different effect and end. I like it. I think it’s actually stronger than what I originally had in mind, but your mileage may vary.

This long, overwritten behind-the-scenes insight brought to you by the return of my occasional, revelatory whim.


So, for those of you joining us late, I started watching Dr. Who recently. I began with the 2005 series and, as of yesterday, I finished the David Tennant era.

Tennant took a while for me to get used to. I’ve liked Christopher Eccleston ever since I saw him in the Nicole Kidman ghost story, “The Others.”  But, by the time the End of Times, Part Two drew to a close, I found myself genuinely sad to see Tennant go. He was amazing in the role and did things with it that Eccleston never got a chance to do. In a lot of ways, Tennant’s Doctor was Superman. That’s how I saw him. One of the best characterizations of the Last Son of Krypton I’ve ever seen. Anyone writing Superman stories could do a lot worse than to study Tennant’s Doctor.

There are things that bug me about Dr. Who. The overwrought music and at times hokey presentation. The relentlessly stand-alone episodes that link so tentatively that at times I miss the connections. The bland appearance of the actor who played main villain, “The Master.” The Daleks and the Cybermen–relics of the old series who are more annoying than villainous. The teeth of the actors. (Sorry, Brits. American television has conditioned me to expect perfect, white teeth.)

But there was so much more to love. I love the energy of the show. They way the Doctor just dances across the screen, unafraid to show joy and sincerity. I can’t think of anything like it on American Television. We’re afraid to be that exuberant. I loved the affection between the characters, even all the hugging.

The writing is just absolutely top notch. It seems obvious that the scripts were written over much longer periods of time than American television shows are usually allotted. There’s just an attention to detail there that you don’t often see. I’m not saying Dr. Who is the best written show ever, only that the scripts seem labored over, with very few stones unturned.

So yeah, I like Dr. Who. A lot. I’m looking forward to continuing with Season 5 and Matt Smith. I’ve seen his first episode already and quite enjoyed him as the Doctor. I’m looking forward to seeing River Song’s story develop more. So many possibilities there. And will we ever see the Meta-Crisis Doctor again? I hope so. I’d love to see Tennant make a return engagement.

If you’ve never seen Dr. Who and live in the United States, now’s a great time to check it out. All 4 seasons and the movies (and a bunch of the old series) are available for streaming on Netflix Instant.

Thanks again to my Sister-in-Law, Karen, for turning me on to the show! Now we can be geeks together.


On Tuesday, Spy Gal and Manny’s last bank heist begins and a not-entirely-surprising person from Spy Gal’s past shows up!

Then, on Thursday…it’s another double-sized strip when Swifty meets Swifty!