This entry was posted on Aug 31 2009 by

(un)scripted: The Surrogates, Test Page

I’m often asked about the writing process and what goes into the creation of a book.  As the third of four recurring features on this website, (un)scripted will shed light on what happens during gestation, all of the little incidents and surprises that coax a story into being.  The story behind the story, so to speak.                                                   

All stories have a beginning, and The Surrogates was no different.  Here’s the test page submitted by Brett Weldele back in 2003, the first page of art ever drawn from one of my scripts (with a pair of Brett’s early coloring schemes at the bottom):



From all the pages of story (the entire script was finished before Top Shelf began searching for an artist), Brett selected this to be his audition.  At first glance it may seem an odd choice for a sci-fi/detective story—why not draw an action sequence, or at least a page that features SteepleJack, the story’s most visually striking character?  Those would’ve been more obvious submissions, but I was thrilled to see this, a subtler moment that reveals something about the relationship between two characters.  He had no way of knowing it at the time, but Brett had picked one of my favorite scenes in the book.  Coincidence?

During the course of my creative writing education in college and grad school, the difference between “genre” and “literary” fiction was often cited as being that the former is plot-centered, while the latter is character-centered.  Oversimplified definitions to be sure, but not completely valueless in the sense that strong characters are what make for a good story.  When you get down to it, there are a finite number of plots out there in the ether (war, romance, heist, etc.), but there are an infinite number of character possibilities.  Whether I succeed or fail is for others to judge, but I always try to ground my stories in character.

So for Brett to pick this page (Page 24 of the collected edition, for those following along at home) as his first to draw suggested something greater than coincidence was at work—it signaled that he had the same affinity for character that I do.  It’s one of the reasons (his unique talent being another, his ability to establish mood through color being yet another . . . ) that I believed from the start he was the perfect artist for the book.  And he has proved himself to be every step of the way.

2 Responses to “(un)scripted: The Surrogates, Test Page”

  1. Jake
    3:52 pm on August 31st, 2009

    I couldn’t agree more. Everything about The Surrogates fits so perfectly together. Weldele did a wonderful job.


  2. Eric
    5:12 pm on September 17th, 2009

    I also agree with the statements you made, especially about the scene pictured. That is a wonderful scene that sets the tone for the book. My favorite scene for character devolpment is the first interaction between Harvey and his wife; classic!

    Anyway, I only recently read The Surrogates, and I loved it! I am nearly finished with Flesh and Bone and I think it may actually be better (to me at least)! You do a great job of eliciting emotional responses with your writing and Brett does a great job of portraying emotions in his art.

    Keep up the good work! You can count me as a reader of your new GN!

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Percy Jackson & The Olympians © Rick Riordan. Images from Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Graphic Novels © Disney Enterprises, Inc.
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