An insight into how Tart comes together

It's Monday night, the evening before we usually update the site with the next chunk of Tart pages. But since we just finished issue 2 last week, we like to have a little breather for a week. It gives Ludo extra time to work on any posters or adverts he dreams up (I wish I could take credit for them, but the extra art he delivers is 98 percent him).

Since I received Ludo's art for issue 2 months and months ago, I've wanted to point out something unbelievably cool he did. But I had to wait, so I didn't spoil anything for you about how the story ended. If you haven't read issue 2, I guess this is where I should type SPOILER ALERT (Though honestly, just click on the cover to issue 2 on the upper right of this page and read it, then tell 9 of your friends, then come back).

I'll get the the cool thing in a moment. First, a bit of explaining.

The overall story: who Tart is, who she works for, what they do, what they do not do, etc is decided in Cross-Atlantic emails with Ludo. It's a very cool process where the time difference seems to me to be a great help, instead of a hindrance. Often times, I'll stay up late finishing a script or a rant about a character, or story idea and email it off in the evening. At some point while i sleep, he receives it and answers. Which means, when I wake up, there's the answer to any of my questions from the night before just sitting there: He likes this, he doesn't like that, maybe we could try this instead, type of stuff.

And I'll email him back in the morning. Sometimes we go back and forth all day, sometimes we come to an agreement immediately. As soon as consensus is reached, he'll usually turn around a stupidly amazing piece of artwork that accompanies the idea in a matter of hours, which gets my juices flowing again to work in the evening, and it all repeats itself.

We don't do this all the time, there are plenty of times where I just spend the day gorging on Oreos and playing with my daughter's dolls (sometimes even with my daughter).

When it comes to scripting though I get sort of secretive, even with Ludo. He knows pretty well what's coming. She's gonna be in New York City in the mid 50s. She's gonna be in snow-covered mountain landscape, she's gonna be in... wait, I'm not spoiling that one. Pretty much I want him to read the script the way you all read the comic. The only difference is he literally, and figuratively, has to draw the issue from my words. And I'll be honest. I want to wow him. If I wow him, then he can wow you.

I won't speak for him, but I know from the work that eventually (much quicker than I can understand how it's possible) comes back to me that he's accepted the challenge and is ready to wow me right back.

I'm going to assume that some of you reading this are new to comic books and comic stories... welcome. I really hope you're enjoying a new way to immerse yourself in a story. In that case, I wanted to give a little peak behind the curtain so to speak. For those of you who "know" comics, the rest of this post is just me bragging on Ludo:

First of all, the rule to end all rules. The artist has a better sense of how something should be drawn than the writer. I try to remember to add this to every script I send. I have ideas for things, but his visual sense is trained years and years ahead of mine. So though I give him a layout, he ALWAYS has full authority to draw it anyway he feels it will work better. In film terms, I'm the screenwriter and Ludo's the director. Directors can literally urinate on screenwriters without worry of any retribution.

So I never worry when the layout looks different than I envisioned. Now if an important piece of information isn't represented, of course we fix that. But if I ask for a close up, and Ludo draws Tart from the back looking up at something, I usually find that what he's drawn is more interesting anyway.

That said, He's also always writing. Adding. Contributing to the story, and to the character of Tart. I've got two cool examples of Ludo completely adding something that I either never envisioned, or didn't take the time to even think up, much less describe.

From Issue 1. Here's the original script for the moment when (SPOILER ALERT - seriously, if you haven't read issue 1 yet, get with the program) Tart wakes up after her less than stellar attack on the demon:

Page 15 panel 1
The room comes back into focus as Tart regains consciousness.

Panel 2
The Demon and the boy are back at the table. Tart is in a steel cage hanging from the ceiling.
Tart, “Let us go!”

Panel 3
Demon, “You make boy eat!”
Tart, “What?”

Panel 4
Demon, “Boy no eat.”
Boy. No! Want Mommy!”

Panel 5
Demon, “Me Mommy. You eat.
Boy No.
Demon. Must Eat!

Panel 6
Demon. “No boy starve. Me love boy. Me mommy.

Panel 7
Tart is realizing what is happening.
Tart, thought balloon, “Oh my lord.”

Panel 8
Tart, “His name is John Martin. He can’t eat here.
Demon, “Must eat!”
Tart. “Yes, but he can’t eat here. He’s human, it will burn him.

Panel 9
Demon, “No burn boy. “
Tart, “No. we don’t want to burn him. We want to save the boy.
Demon, Yes. Save boy.”

Panel 10
Tart, “I can’t save him here. I’ve got to take him home.
Boy. “Wanna go home to Mommy.”
Demon, “But this home. Me Mommy!”

Panel 11
Tart. “No. His home is on earth. On the human plane.
Demon. “But I love him.”

Now here's the page of art:

Now the thing I wanted to note is happening in panels 6 & 8. Nowhere in my script, nor in my mind, was I contemplating what Tart was doing in the big metal cage. When I looked through Ludo's pencils 

- - in case you're new, the first drawings are made with pencil, so they can be erased if you don't like them and redrawn. Thus, they're called, "Pencils." When the artist is happy he or she (or often enough another artist entirely) uses a pen or a brush and black ink to "Ink" them, which pretty much makes the art permanent. Finally a colorist takes the black and white pages and (nowadays) uses a computer program to color them. By the way, three or more distinct artists often do these different chores, and on Tart, every one  of these jobs is completed by Ludo. Which is why I have a sneaking suspicion he doesn't actually exist and I've either been working with magical elves or a sentient - most likely evil - supercomputer with the dream of being Jim Lee.- 

Wow that was a long parenthesis. Long enough I'd just better repeat the sentence I had started with.

When I looked through Ludo's pencils, I noticed in Panel 6 that Tart was fiddling with her hair. And in panel 8, she was fiddling with the lock. You see, as the writer, I knew full well the demon was going to break the cage for her, so I didn't give any thought to her trying to escape. But Ludo knew Tart wouldn't give up like that. He had her working to create her own escape even though one would be forthcoming. It's something I should have come up with in the beginning, but that I'm awestruck by whenever I read that page.

The second example I have to show what Ludo brings to the story as artist is a little more straightforward. It's in issue 2 at the end. Here's the script:  

Page 21 panel 1
Tart is sitting cross-legged in the snow.

Narrator box: The family was so obvious. I just assumed they were the mission.

Panel 2
Tart, “Shin, Henne. Holestae!”
A blue bubble appears at Tarts feet.

Panel 3
The bubble floats in front of Tart’s face.

Panel four.
She follows it

Panel 5
And She follows it

Panel 6
And She follows it

Panel 7
Narration box: I should have done this days ago.

Panel 8
Narration box: But if I had, that family would probably starve.

Panel 9
Narration box: I’ll make that trade every day of the week. 
Note the monotony of the script instructions "She follows it." "She follows it." "She follows it," compared with what you see on the page. I wanted a sense of time passing. Ludo gave us much more than that. Hours seem to pass. And miles. You almost strain with Tart as she climbs up that peak and hoists herself up to the edge (an edge I didn't even know she'd be climbing).

I'm sorry, but I just think that's so f-ing cool. I write this thing, and I still get surprised by what's in it!

I hope I've made this sort of interesting to any of you that might like to know a bit of how our comic is made (there's no real rule as to how a comic is made, so this is only a primer on how Ludo and I do it). And an insight into how the writing process continues to the drawing board (and beyond).

Good night,


PS - next week issue 3 starts updating. get ready people, it kicks complete and total ass.


  1. Thanks Kevin.
    I try not to change your script too much but I need to bring a part of me in the character. If it's not in words, it's in the gestures. I need Tart appears human as much as possible, she reacts as such. She got some strength, smart, but she is not Wonder Woman. She's just a little girl who should slay ugly monsters, and when I'm drawing her, I slip inside her mind and try to imagine what she doing.
    She needs to be always acting, moving, as much as possible.
    But if sometime it's really not your thought, tell me. I just want the better for her.

  2. Poor Ludo. As someone who has been on both sides of the artist/writer equation, I can say that Ludo is doing a hell of a job. If you had sent me a script with the same story beat repeated three times (she follows, she follows, she follows) I would've sent it back to you and made YOU justify why it needed to be repeated. Don't put it in if you don't have a reason. Otherwise just have a begin shot of the journey with her fresh-faced and hopeful, then an end shot with her tired and icicles hanging from her dreads with a caption that says "many minutes and snow-covered miles later..." In future, throw your artist a bone. I say that with love and as a fan. The less time he has to spend on story details the more time he can spend on art. And, I will never again assume all French artists are lazy bohemians.

  3. Well you can't assume Ludo's a lazy Bohemian, but I'll happily admit I'm a fatass American writer hitching his wagon to a star. And nothing you say is gonna change that!!!

    Find your own genius to email garbage to and have beauty emailed back.

  4. You're nice but don't pity me.
    To be frank I dream to be a lazy bohemian, it's my ultimate goal in life.
    But I need to be rich before. So, I work hard for now with the hope to win lot of money with my works, and after I could be a lazy artist who live in a big house in a wood, sleeping,eating and reading all day long until I die.

  5. Joking aside I think Optional Delusion has a point. Though I think it's one of degrees.

    In any collaboration, every effort needs to be made to pull your own weight. And you also have to be willing to pick your partner up if/when they don't. In that regard, the reason I was so excited by Ludo's art in the Walking scene was a bit of the realization that I hadn't pulled my weight, but that he had elevated his efforts to make up for it.

    But then there also has to be trust. I have to trust Ludo enough that he has the ability to do that. And if I micromanage everything to the point where every panel is over-scripted, at some point he's going to feel constrained.

    QUICK INFO FOR PEOPLE NEWER TO COMICS (since I realized I got pretty jorgony in the next paragraph):

    Comics are written in all sorts of ways, but there are two distinct styles in which they're usually written. The first is known as the Marvel style. The Marvel style originated in the 60s because Stan Lee was writing about ten different comics at once. He didn't have time to literally write each issue, so instead he'd "Plot" the story with the issue's artist. The artist then went off and drew everything as he saw fit. Stan would then come in and write the dialogue and narration to draw the story together for the audience.

    The other way is called full-script. In which each page is broken down by the writer for the artist, panel by panel, with all dialogue included from the beginning.

    (Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled comment).

    I choose to work in full-script because honestly, I just don't understand how the Marvel style works. At least not for me.

    But I'm not a genius like Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman. With their 100 page scripts for 22 page issues. Instead we have a discussion after I send the first draft of the script where Ludo asks any questions, and gives any suggestions he sees fit. When the things I leave out don't make sense to him, he always asks detailed questions that either allow me to rethink what I've done, or to explain better what I'm going for in the second draft.

    Good comment Optional, it gave me a chance to think deeper on an issue I really wouldn't have otherwise.