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Inside Look: Artifacts #13

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Inside Look is Broken Frontier's director’s commentary-like feature in which creators take you behind the scenes of one of their latest comics to hit the stands. In this edition: Ron Marz on Artifacts #13.

Artifacts #13 brings to a close the original, universe-changing storyline we set out to tell. I did what all smart writers do, and rode the coattails of the great artists I worked with. I was blessed to have an amazing roster of artists as my collaborators on the series, including Michael Broussard, Whilce Portacio, Jeremy Haun, Dale Keown and colorist Sunny Gho.

Issue #13 feature Dale in all his glory, the first time we've worked together on more than just a few pages. I tried to balance the script between character-intensive scenes and the kind of spectacle visuals people expect from event comics.  

Pages 2-6

We open the issue in a literal void. At the end of issue #12, the universe was destroyed, leading to the issue ending with a double-spread featuring blank space and a fading word balloon (don't worry, they were bonus pages, we didn't screw readers on the page count). Our characters -- Sara Pezzini, Jackie Estacado, and their daughter Hope -- are literally in the middle of nothing.

Obviously the choice to set the opening scene in this void helps focus the reader on the characters and the characters alone. There's nothing extraneous, only what was the spine of the story all along: Sara, Jackie and Hope. The void also serves to draw a stark comparison with the "new" universe that follows.

Plus, I'm not an idiot. Dale is an amazing artist, but he's not an especially fast artist. Eschewing backgrounds in the first sequence helped those pages get completed just a little faster, and bought us some time for Dale to produce the lavish pages that follow.

 

     

Page 9

This is our first look at the "new" universe that's been brought into being. The first indication that all is not as it should be is Tilly Grimes having the Rapture, which used to be in the possession of Tom Judge. It's the first hint that something is askew, and the evidence mounts in ensuing pages. We'll see this same scene from a slightly different perspective in Artifacts #15.

Pages 10 & 11

This spread indicates the present whereabouts of the remaining Artifacts. The identities of some bearers were left purposefully vague, because certain Artifacts are in the hands of new bearers. Those are stories we'll pursue as the Artifacts ongoing gets underway with the upcoming issue #14.

       

Page 12

Jackie enters the shop of the Curator. If you'll notice, panel 4 repeats the exact angle Michael Broussard chose to use when Tom Judge entered the same shop in Artifacts #1. Likewise, panel 5 utilizes the same angle for a shot of Jackie that was used for a shot of Tom in issue #1. And finally, panel 6 repeats issue #1's shot of the Curator emerging from the beaded curtain. Even the same dialogue is employed, all of it the create an echo of the sequence from issue #1.

Pages 14 & 15

Sometimes, you just get the hell out of the way and let the artist do his thing. This spread is one of those times. I wanted to make sure Dale got a chance to do a signature Darkness image, since Jackie is the Top Cow character he's most associated with.

This spread was also an opportunity to remind the audience that Jackie is not a very nice man. Yes, he's your protagonist, but he's not really a hero.

      

Page 18

I love how effective panel 6 is. The high-angle shot, distanced from Sara, empty space around here, conveys how truly alone she is. Ultimately, this story is a tragedy for Sara. She lost her sister, and she lost her daughter. As the issues wears on, I wanted readers to be wondering what the hell happened to Hope, hopefully with rising anxiety.

Page 21

In a lot of ways, the final panel of the issue was the most important one. We end on an image of Jackie looking right at the reader, on his face a baleful expression on that confirms for the reader that he knows exactly what's happened, exactly what he's done. It's a cold, foreboding expression, and Dale nailed it perfectly.

Page 1 of issue #1 has a shot of Sara looking at the reader, summing up everything about Sara in one image. I like to think this last page of issue #13 has a shot of Jackie that sums up everything about him in one image.

We wanted to make sure Artifacts #13 provided a satisfying conclusion, but also left enough threads to make the continuation of the series not only logical, but necessary. I'm pretty satisfied we did that. The story continues next month with issue #14, by me and my Witchblade partner-in-crime, Stjepan Sejic.

Artifacts #13, by Ron Marz and Dale Keown, is out now from Top Cow and Image Comics.

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