Incursion #1: The Commentary Track

Incursion #1’s been out for almost a week now, so you should all have your copy. So now it’s time for the first of what will, hopefully, be many DVD-style commentaries on my comics. I’ll do up one of these for each issue, giving you a little insight into the creative process behind the books. And away we go…

Incursion’s my first hired-gun book, the first one where I didn’t come up with the idea and push it through to completion. Which was, to be honest, very nice. Work-for-hire’s got its critics and its drawbacks, but it also means somebody else is playing production traffic cop…and signing checks. I got hooked up with Incursion thanks to Sean O’Reilly, top dog at Arcana Studio (which published my 2006 miniseries Sundown: Arizona) and newly-hired VP at Platinum. Sean called me this past summer—like any struggling young writer, I think I was actually on the golf course when he called—and offered me the gig. Obviously, being a struggling young writer, I accepted on the spot.

Platinum had some detailed notes for the four-issue series that they wanted me to work off of, but they—led by editor supreme Dave Collins—were more than happy to let me wander a bit from the prescribed path. The book was created by Platinum head honcho Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, and its original title was “Twilight War Book One: Incursion,” which ought to give you some clues as to where this whole affair is going. Anyway, let’s begin.

This opening page, with the young Ray wandering out on a tree branch, was inspired by an incident involving my little brother. He climbed a tree and fell out—there was nobody there to catch him, unfortunately, and he landed on the chain-link fence that separated our house from our neighbors. He was fine, but to this day nobody can remember which side of the fence he landed on.

The construction of the opening page—which is something I added in to the original plot—is an outgrowth of my MFA grad school learning. Establish a theme, always a theme. The title of this issue, which wasn’t included in the credits, is “Balance.”

Next, we’re in Afghanistan. The Packers reference is because the Packers happened to be on in a preseason game when I was writing the script. There is no real-world analogue to the girlfriend story, which is a shame.

Back at Edwards Air Force Base, I tried to channel Warren Ellis with my explanation of how the XCE works.

“The Billies” is my own creation for Afghan rebels, an oblique reference to “The Skinnies”—the term for the Mogadishu rebels that brought down American planes in Black Hawk Down. Hopefully I didn’t accidentally back into some racist term.

My artist, Axel Medellin, did a good job with the badass pictures, huh? Check that one on the bottom of page 6.

Page 8—That’s the old English-major theology influence coming out there with the story of the monk and the knight. I was surprised at how well it ended up fitting into the overall theme of the story, but sometimes you get lucky that way.

Ray’s hint on page 10 of not sharing everything with his own men…you don’t think that’s going to backfire on him, do you? Not at all…

The scene on page 12 where the billies show up in ever greater numbers is a direct reference—I mentioned it in the script—to that scene in Return of the King where you see some orcs popping out of the ruins of that old city waiting for the charge of the heroes from Minas Tirith, and every time they cut back to the orcs, there are more and more and more of them, and you can’t imagine how there could be any more, and then there ARE, and then you think, oh boy—our heroes are screwed…

Page 15—Wait a minute! How the hell did Kyle’s dog tags end up in California? All will be revealed…

Page 18—My grandfather used to have those clicking-ball office toys…that is, until I slung them so hard that they all knotted up. This is my little way of saying sorry.

Page 19—Whoops. Reid just did the same thing I did to those little swingin’ balls.

Page 20—Whoa! Visual symbolism there in panel 1! That broken cross can’t possibly represent anything bad coming down the pike, can it?

Page 21—My favorite demon in this whole thing is the big furnace-throated bad guy there in the top right. If I write another Twilight series, I’m making that guy a key player. Second place is the dude in the center with the sword; he’s either wearing two eyepatches or some sunglasses. Either way, he’s a badass.

Page 22—Zombies. Everybody loves zombies. How can you not?

And then we’re done. Oh, wait, the ads. First off—Kade. Hmm. Interesting character, that Kade. And later on, Scott calls my work “nothing short of brilliant”—thanks, man! And I can’t recall the last time I was called “up and coming,” but hey, that’s cool too.

Here endeth the commentary for the first issue. No. 2’s scheduled to drop—man, that’s an unfortunate sentence construction—sometime in mid-December. Order now!

Jay

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