DC Comics Relaunch: Behind the Scenes Look at Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man

Yesterday on DC Source, DC posted Jeff Lemire’s proposal for Animal Man.   I have always been fascinated by the process that goes into creating a comic, so I really enjoyed this and thought the readers might enjoy it too:

ANIMAL MAN monthly series, September 2011

Talent:
Jeff Lemire, writer
TBD, artist (Trevor Foreman)

The high concept: Family man or superman? With the power to absorb the traits of any animal Buddy Baker has made a career as a part-time superhero. But when his young daughter begins to develop incredibly dangerous powers of her own, the Bakers will have to give up their quiet suburban life and go on the run across America.

The Cast:

BUDDY BAKER: Animal Man. Father, husband and part-time superhero.
ELLEN BAKER: Buddy’s supportive wife. Her strength keeps the family together.
CLIFF BAKER: 12-year old son, rebellious and jealous of his sister.
MAXINE BAKER: 8-year old daughter. Possibly the next avatar of The Red and the most dangerous living creature on Earth.
THE TOTEMS: CONFIDENTIAL
THE HUNTERS: CONFIDENTIAL
SOCKS: Avatar of The Red from the 1950’s.

Overview:

Buddy Baker’s superhero career is a part-time concern at best. And aside from flirting with an acting career in arthouse indie films, Buddy seems to be doing little to pull in a steady income, putting undo stress on his already tumultuous marriage. To make matters worse, Buddy and Ellen’s young daughter, 8-year old Maxine, is exhibiting incredible and dangerous powers, powers she’s too young to understand or control.

Outline:

For our purposes we’ll skim over all of his involvement in 52 and Countdown. That stuff happened, but let’s move on and get back to Buddy as a suburban family man, rather than cosmic globetrotter.

Basically we start with Buddy’s best days as a superhero behind him. But, Buddy has found a bit of a second life. His past exploits, his politics and his involvement in various animal rights groups have made him something of a hipster icon. The young, left wing college crowd has latched onto the image of Animal Man as if he were something of an indie/alt icon of the 90’s. Unfortunately, that really isn’t helping to pay the bills.

As our series opens Buddy is actually reading an interview he did in a “Believer-type” magazine at the kitchen table as Ellen makes diner (the first page of the first issue is actually an excerpt from this interview, complete with the little illustrated headshot of Buddy, which catches readers up on Buddy’s recent past and his lessening involvement in super heroics, and his re-emergence within youth culture). There is clearly stress in their marriage. Buddy is doing little to help make ends meet and Ellen’s career as an illustrator is drying up.

We establish their quiet suburban life and routine and reintroduce readers to their three kids: Cliff, is now fourteen, anti-social and rebellious. Maxine is an introverted and shy ten-year old, and four-year old Josie is clearly the apple of Buddy’s eye.

As our story begins, Maxine begins to develop powers of her own. Buddy tries his best to help Maxine, but instead he accidentally sets into motion an ancient evil that will send The Baker family on the run across the dark and dangerous underbelly of modern America and right into the hands of [CLASSIFIED]. And there may be only one being who can save them…Alec Holland.


Skitch Commentary: Sounds like a really cool series.  I love the idea they are tying it into Swamp Thing (at least if they stick to this proposal)


This morning, adding to the Animal Man fun, DC posted a few scripts pages from the first issue.  This is pretty rare, you always see preview art, but us writers never get any love.  Check them out!

ANIMAL MAN #1
THE HUNT PART 1: WARNING FROM THE RED

PAGE 9.

9.1

Closer on Buddy, he turns to Krenshaw.

1. BUDDY: Let me handle this.

2. KRENSHAW: I don’t know, A-Man…all those kids.

3. BUDDY: Trust me…

9.2

Cut inside the children’s ward of the hospital. Kids are huddled together in their beds, terrified. Nurses and doctors try to comfort him. Edwin is at the window, holding his gun to the Doctor.

4. (CAPTION) ANIMAL MAN: …let me talk to this guy.

5. EDWIN: Just back off! All I want is my little girl and we’ll get out of here and I’ll let the rest go!

9.3

The doors to the Children’s Ward swing open and ANIMAL MAN enters. Buddy holds his hands up as if to show he’s unarmed. Edwin swings around pointing the gun at him.

6. EDWIN: Who the hell are you!?

7. ANIMAL MAN: Just calm down. Why don’t you put the gun down and we’ll figure this out…

8. EDWIN: No way! Just get them to back off!

9.4

Closer on Animal Man. He pulls back his mask and goggles.

9. ANIMAL MAN: Look, man, I know you’re in pain…I know you lost your little girl. I have a daughter too…

9.5

Buddy approaches Edwin, cautiously, his hands still up. Edwin’s losing it, nervous and twitchy.

10. EDWIN: They got her here somewhere! I just want her back!

11. BUDDY: Mr. Edwin…Lyle, please…you must know that’s not true. I know it’s hard to accept.

9.6

Close on Edwin, he suddenly opens fire, interrupting Buddy’s speech half way through.

12. BUDDY (op): But putting the rest of these kids in danger isn’t going to bring her ba–!

13. EDWIN: I said stay back!

14. SFX: BLAM! BLAM!

PAGE 10.

Splash.

Buddy is taken aback as the bullets hit him square on the chest, bouncing off.

He has instinctually reached out with his powers trying to connect with any animal that might protect him from the blast.

So the background fades away and Buddy is surrounded by images of animals of all kinds all around him.

1. (CAPTION) BUDDY: Instinctually, I reach out with my powers, desperately trying to connect with any animal that will protect me from the blast.

2. (CAPTION) BUDDY: My consciousness slips into The Life Web and darts around madly…searching…

3. (CAPTION) BUDDY: Rat, no…dog, no…fish no…

4. (CAPTION) BUDDY: Rhino….RHINO!

PAGE 11.

11.1

Buddy leaps through the air towards Edwin, fists clenched and barking angrily.

1. (CAPTION) BUDDY: This man is troubled. He’s experienced loss that I can barely fathom. But now he’s also endangered all these innocent children…and I can’t allow that.

2. (CAPTION) BUDDY: I grab my favorite “action hero” cocktail of animal abilities…

3. (CAPTION) BUDDY: Strength of an elephant, reflexes of a fly, speed of a cheetah…

4. (CAPTION) BUDDY: And the bark of a dog. That one always freaks them out.

5. BUDDY: BARK! BARK!

11.2

Buddy hauls off and punches Edwin with the might of an elephant. Edwin flies back, slamming into the wall, his gun falls from his hand.

6. (CAPTION) BUDDY: Truth is, I hate violence. I wish I could help this man. If I ever lost Cliff or Maxine…I’d…

7. (CAPTION) BUDDY: No, don’t think about that. I can’t help him. Not now. So I just need to stop him.

8. SFX: THWAM!

11.3

Buddy crouches by Edwin, who holds his jaw, cowering and sobbing on the floor. We only see A-Man from behind here.

9. EDWIN: I’m sorry…I’m sorry…I just want her back.

10. BUDDY: I know…I know. It’s going to be okay.

11.4

We see Krenshaw enter the room behind Buddy with a Swat Team. Buddy turns to them, so that again we only see him from behind. Depending on the angle, maybe we see the first hint of blood coming from his ear, but it should be subtle not to tip our hand too soon.

11. KRENSHAW: A-Man! Is he –

12. BUDDY: Everyone’s okay.

11.5

Buddy stands before Krenshaw, his back to us. Two cops haul Edwin away. The Doctors tend to the children, trying to calm them.

Krenshaw’s face falls. He stares at A-Man in shock.

12. BUDDY: That man needs help, Detective. I hope you can –

13. BUDDY: Detective Krenshaw? What’s wrong?

11.6

Close on Krenshaw, still shocked and dumbfounded he manages to point to his own eyes.

14. KRENSHAW: Animal Man…your eyes!

PAGE 12.

12.1

Larger Panel: Reverse to Buddy. He reaches up, touching his cheek. Blood runs from his eyes and ears, down his face. Buddy freezes in shock.

1. KRENSHAW: A-Man?

2. KRENSHAW: You okay?

3. BUDDY: I—I don’t know…

12.2

Krenshaw puts his hand on Buddy’s shoulder, and yells to a doctor nearby.

4. KRENSHAW: (yelling) We need a doctor here!


Skitch Commentary: This was one of the most insightful bits of information I’ve ever seen about a comic series. Please do more of these DC!! At the very least, it can answer people’s questions about how much is and isn’t being “rebooted.”

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Source: DC Source