From the mind of Tom Beland

Creator of True Story Swear to God

Monday, March 10, 2008


So I'm downloading a SHITLOAD of sketch pages and photos to Jonathan over at Image Comics... for that mega-huge collection of my entire self-published run of TSSTG.... when I come across something fun!

I found the sketch pages I used when I wrote the FANTASTIC FOUR: ISLA DE LA MUERTA! I was trying to find these pages ages ago, to send to Juan, to show him how close he came to my own vision of the story. I think he was dead-on. So, for anyone who wants to know my writing process is: here are some pages and some notes.

My take on the FF. Very animated style, way too cartoony for Marvel, but they've let me draw these guys in TSSTG and that was enough coolness for me.

The way I write is, I'll lay out the the pages in sketch form and put the dialogue in some spots and then, I'll go onto my laptop and use the sketch as a springboard. It allows me to just set set the scene and describe everything on the page.

I'll also begin in the middle of the story, then work sideways from there. Weird, I guess. Works for me.

I always figured, if I could create force fields, like Sue Storm, the first thing I'd use them for would be shutting up my younger brother, Joe. I've had that thought for DECADES... and it was AWESOME to live out that fantasy!

The search is on for the El Chupacabra as the FF head into the El Yunque rain forest. I don't think people utilize Reed's ability to alter he face by stretching his skin. John Bynre did it and I loved that about Reed. I love how board Johnny is in the Fantasticar. I also cannot draw mechanical anythings.

I wanted to make these people have the same problems we all do. The way Sue is ignoring Reed was taken directly from the way Lily does that with me.

One of the first pages I sketched. The minute they asked me to write an FF book, this was the first scene that came out. Sue has very few deep friendships in her life. Ben is perhaps the strongest friendship she has, maybe more so than Reed.

Because he's normal. He's just a guy from New York. And he had every reason to become a Doctor Doom or a Hulk or a Namor... but he stayed the same normal guy he'd always been. I love this scene. Juan killed that scene.

They find El Chupacabra, as Johnny comes crashing to the ground. I have to admit, these characters are fun to draw. I like Ben. I felt like this story read like both Johnny Quest and the Incredibles.

Lots of fun stuff on this page. First, we were originally going to have Sue rolling her eyes as Reed "saves" quite possibly the strongest member of the FF. How many times has she had to deal with Reed's overprotectiveness??

Middle panel. Johnny not being able to pronounce "CHUPACABRA" added so much fun to the story. And I've always dug how the FF would bitch at each other in the heat of battle. Very family like.

BOOM. Ben gets handed by the beast.

Ben nails the Chupacabra square as Johnny burns the rain forest down, against Reed's wishes.

Ben saves the day as he rushes the Chupacabra. I wanted to give them a cool factor without explaining it. Chupacabra can squeeze through Sue's force fields. Never had to tell anyone how it happens... it was just THUMP. There you go!

Anyway, hope you enjoy the pages. I'll be posting more sketch pages on here on a regular basis. I'll be posting the sketch pages of the very first issue of TSSTG. A few at a time. It was a blast to revisit those sketchbook.

I've always been self-conscience about explaining how I write. Because I've always thought of writers as brainy, college educated people with a vast and diverse vocabulary at hand. I barely graduated high school and so I've never thought that much of my abilities as a professional writer. I still do, but I'm getting more comfortable.


Robert Chambers said...

Hi Tom!
Seriously, don't be self-conscious about how you write - Steve Baron writes the exact same way (or at least, he did when I talked to him in LA in the late 80s, during the height of Nexus and Badger's popularity). He would scribble out rough comps of each page, then hand them to Steve Rude to pencil, then do the actual tightening of dialog and whatnot.
Rob Chambers

Tom Beland said...

Yeah, that's been the really cool part about meeting other creators in this business. You learn that the things that make you feel self-conscious are the same things that others do also.

Steve's produces some of the prettiest damned pages. I have his book on inking.

Andy Ihnatko said...

Re: Mr. Fantastic - That's actually one of the (many) nice touches that I enjoyed in the book. When did Marvel forget that Reed Richards is made out of rubber? His reaching into the other room and essentially turning his hand into a popcorn bowl (a) lent some visual pizazz and (b) underscores how interesting it is to have this super-serious and dignified character who nonetheless has probably the silliest super-power other than Squirrel Girl's.

Reed and Sue enjoying playtime together with Reed acting as a parasail = right. Sue sunbathing alone and ignored while Reed examines the beach sand with a huge nuclear-powered device = wrong, but that's the usual way their relationship is depicted!

carbunkel said...

Hey, this post had some comments on it! Yay!!!

Emilio Torres Garcia said...

Glad to known those pages weren't lost.They look terrific.

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