Issue 6, the conclusion to our first story arc, was released in print around March 2012. Before continuing on to Issue 7, we collected the first six issues into a trade paperback, a common practice in comics for businessy reasons I’m writing another post about. Normally producing a trade is pretty easy: just grab the issues, slap into a single document, add a title page and you’re set.

In our case, though, we took this opportunity to make some small revisions to the story. I’m going to dig into each of these in detail – if you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of comic making, there are some good lessons here.

Issue 1 was originally released with a two-page intro scene that utilized the “How We Got Here” trope, flashing forward to the climax of Issue 6 where Arion is restrained and thrown overboard by Trellis and his crew. Here’s the old intro:


Of all the dumb ideas that Chris and I have had on Black Rose, this was probably the most dumbest.

I do understand why we chose to start things this way. Issue 1 is focused on Arion’s last days in the Athelican Army, which is important material to cover for his character but not indicative of the continuing tone and content of the ongoing story. So we decided to start Issue 1 with a flashforward of this climactic scene, reassuring readers that there was more variety on the way.

But as we began to publish the successive issues, we realized that the flashforward wasn’t working:

  • it flashed too FAR forward, giving away the ending to the first arc
  • it was more confusing than intriguing, introducing too many characters that the reader would promptly forget about
  • six issues was too long to wait for a payoff

So the trade was the perfect opportunity to right the writing. We scripted a new four-page intro that focused not on our protagonists, but on the underlying conflict between Ishtakar and Athelica and their opposing worldviews. When we transitioned Black Rose to a webcomic, we led with this new intro. You can see those pages starting here.

I’m really proud of the revised intro. It says a lot with very little, and doesn’t try to hook the audience with action or other gimmicks.

Next week: the other changes we snuck into Book 1 when you weren’t looking!