Save the Cat! Writes a Comic (Free)

Welcome to my Save the Cat blog. This is for my $45 patrons and is our exclusive behind-the-scenes tier.

These blogs and vlogs will be a look at the scenes behind Volume 1: Lust.

The Opening Image is a beat that takes a look at the protagonist’s life now. In the Save the Cat methodology this is opposite of the last beat of a movie, novel, or comic that is called the Closing Image.

In this scene, you as the writer establish the feel and tone of the story. If you’re writing a comedy, it should be a funny scene. If it’s a drama, it should open with something dramatic.  A mystery should open with the mystery.

The point is that you are allowing the reader to know which character they are going to follow and what kind of story they are about to hitch a ride on.

This scene should be active. It explores one of the many flaws or problems your protagonist has.  Remember, the whole point of this scene is to show, not tell, what is going on in the life of the protagonist.  Other names used for this beat are “The flashbang opening” and “Exposition”.

Again, this should grab your reader’s eyes! You only get a few pages to hook them into your story and it starts with your opening.  Let’s look at some examples from comics and manga.

I will not be using single issues when it comes to mainstream comics produced by Marvel, DC, Image, and Dark Horse. I will be using their trade paperbacks, as it collects a story told over several single issues.

For mangas, I will mostly be using specific volumes, unless it’s a Light novel.

Our first example is The Mutant Massacre, a 1986 crossover event by Marvel featuring the titles: X-men #210, X-Factor #9, X-Men #211, New Mutants #46, X-Factor #10, Thor #373, Power Pack #27, X-Men #212, Thor #374, X-Factor #11, and X-Men #213. These were all collected as a trade paperback, X-Men: Mutant Massacre.

Chris Claremont (X-men, New Mutants,) Louise Simonson,(X-Factor and Power Pack) and Walter Simonson (Thor) were the writers.

The opening image  is a two-panel page. The first panel is a shot of a Los Angeles train yard. The second panel is of a character named Richard who is hit with an harpoon from the back. Richard is yelling as Tommy, a female he is on the run with, watches on.

This page creates a sense of urgency. Why is Richard being targeted? Who is targeting Richard. Over the next two pages, the attackers, calling themselves the Marauders, kill him and start following Tommy.

The reader, most likely an X-men fan, but even for a new reader, this is enough to build suspense. It tells the reader that this is going to be a violent story, even by comic book superhero levels. These killers mean BUSINESS.

What about the protagonist? We meet them all throughout the issue. However, the scene shows that the killers are targeting mutants. The reader is smart and will know that the X-men will get involved with these killers. There are so many more questions. Are the killers mutant themselves? are they targeting mutants? It’s clear that Tommy is a mutant, but it’s not clear if Richard is, despite belonging to the Hellfire Club, a high society group that has mostly mutants in the organization ranks.

At this point, if you read Save the Cat! Writes a novel, Jessica Brody explains that this is a single scene. In novels this is most likely a chapter. In film, this can be about a two to three minute scene. In comics, this could told over pages. I would suggest no more than four pages total.

This scene in the Mutant Massacre was three pages, before we are introduced to the X-Men members who will be part of this story.

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