What makes Buddy and Ellen Baker's relationship so special and so enduring? “To me, Buddy may be the "superhero," but Ellen is the strong one,” says ANIMAL MAN writer Jeff Lemire. “He may wear the costume, but she's the rock of the Baker clan. Truth is, Buddy is actually a bit of a flake. One day he's a stuntman, the next day he's an indy film actor, the next he's flying around San Diego in tights and a mask. Yet. Ellen is always there, always supporting him and picking up the slack at home...she even manages a successful career as an illustrator. Let's face it, of the two, Ellen is the "super" one. But Buddy Baker has heart. He's the emotional one. And he certainly attracts adventure and excitement...even if it can be the unwanted, ROTTEN kind of excitement at times. And I guess Ellen needs that to balance her. In the end it's not just the kids or the wild adventure that have kept them together, it's how much they both need each other in order to thrive at what they do best. I hate to end this Valentine salute to Buddy and Ellen on a somber note...” Lemire continues, “but I still can't help but wonder, exactly how much more of the craziness can Ellen endure? When Buddy keeps putting the kids in danger, I wonder where Ellen will draw the line. That may be a question we see answered sooner than later, as the forces of The Rot gather all around the Bakers!” Pick up ANIMAL MAN #7 for Part 1 of Animal vs. Man on March 7th!
Yesterday, we showed you pages #9-12 of the script for ANIMAL MAN #1. Today, we’ll be walking you through the next steps in the creative process of creating a comic book: adapting script pages into visual mediums.
In the below sequence, see how artist Travel Foreman took Jeff Lemire’s haunting text and amplified the stakes by creating stunning art that visually captures the terror of Buddy Baker’s situation. Notice how Animal Man’s face shifts from seemingly having control of what’s going on to his urgent need for answers.
“Jeff and Travel have created the perfect hybrid of genres with ANIMAL MAN,” said DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras. “They’ve blended together elements of super-hero stories and horror stories to create exactly the type of narratives we envisioned when we came up with The Dark. This book is full of mystery and drama and really makes you want to know what happens next. Plus the art is truly amazing. It’s a fantastic book and I can’t wait to see where it goes.”
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Today, take a sneak peek at select pages of the script for the series’ debut issue, in stores September 7th. This sequence sets up the series’ first story arc and demonstrates Jeff’s new take on the story of Animal Man: one that straddles the line between super-hero and horror story. Furthermore, Jeff’s notes also set up the outstanding creative partnership between himself and artist Travel Foreman.
Without further ado, check out pages #9-12 of the script for ANIMAL MAN #1.
ANIMAL MAN #1
THE HUNT PART 1: WARNING FROM THE RED
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…
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!
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!
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…
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
Close on Krenshaw, still shocked and dumbfounded he manages to point to his own eyes.
14. KRENSHAW: Animal Man…your eyes!
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…
Krenshaw puts his hand on Buddy’s shoulder, and yells to a doctor nearby.
4. KRENSHAW: (yelling) We need a doctor here!
This week on THE SOURCE, we’ll be providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of the upcoming titles from DC COMICS-THE NEW 52, the highly anticipated ANIMAL MAN.
Today, we’re going to kick off these posts by showing you highlights from Jeff Lemire’s original proposal for the series. Keep in mind that this is not the entire proposal and that some of the information has been redacted, but there are spoilers nonetheless. So if you want your reading experience to be spoiler free, please stop reading now.
For everybody else, keep checking back with THE SOURCE throughout the week as we tease and show you more of ANIMAL MAN #1.
ANIMAL MAN monthly series, September 2011
Jeff Lemire, writer
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.
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.
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.
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.