May 25th, 2010

Sad Chicken

Ibuki #2 Commentary

With teaching, projects and travel all colliding together over the past few weeks, I forgot to post up a 'Writer's Commentary' for Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki #2. I've seen a few other people do this for comics they've worked on and I've found it fascinating so hopefully people who read and enjoyed the issue will feel the same way. If not, at least I'll have some of my own thoughts about it organized in one place.

You can check out the commentary on issue #1 right here.

Street Fighter Legends: Ibuki #2

PAGE 1: This issue picks up moments after Makoto's back-up story from Street Fighter II Turbo #11. If the reader hasn't read that issue of our main SF series it still works with Ibuki #1 but, if they have, then it works even better. Ken wrote that back-up story before the Ibuki mini was fully nailed down, so I had to make sure it worked its way in to my story. In the Ibuki trade paperback it'll fit all together in order nicely. Also, it ensures that Dan appears in every Street Fighter Legends mini-series we've done so far. :)

PAGE 2: Having a character talking to themselves can be really awkward but with someone like Makoto it seems perfectly appropriate. Her drive is so overwhelming that she reinforces it with her own constant-running self banter.

PAGE 3: It was important to balance making Makoto a credible threat without having her seem unsympathetic, especially since they'd be friends within a few pages.

PAGE 4: When I was originally writing this scene I didn't know how I could stop the fight from happening, until I realized how seriously Makoto considered the oath she'd made to her father. The idea that Ibuki had an oath of her own would be something Makoto would instantly respect and honour. It diffused the tension and gave insight in to both characters.

PAGE 5: And now, just like that, they're shaky allies. Everything Makoto does, she does with intensity. Writing her dialogue is a blast. It gives a good contrast between her and Ibuki's more thoughtful approach.

PAGE 6: Now Elena gets thrown in to the mix. Her school uniform is different from the rest of the students because we wanted it to match up with the school uniform she has in her game ending. I figured that style was the only one she could get in her size or that juniors at the school had a different style.

The three distinctively different personalities of the girls clash head-on here and the conflict potential gets ratcheted up right from the get-go. I got to indulge in some anime school comedy clichés while defining all three characters. Good fun.

PAGE 7: Elena's line about 'I think we can be friends...' is a direct quote from one of her victory speeches in the video game.

When Omar first showed me this page I thought Elena might be too tall, but then when he then showed me screenshots from Elena in Street Fighter III, it made sense. In the game she's crouched over as part of her martial arts style and even then she's as tall as the other cast of characters who are standing normally. If she straightened up, she'd be an absolute giant.

Narumi is Elena's best friend in Street Fighter III, so I wanted to show them meeting each other, even though we never see her again in this comic mini-series. Making these connections to the game continuity was important to me.

PAGE 8: Sarai's role in this mini-series grew as the writing evolved. I wanted to create even more emotional conflict for Ibuki and having to justify some of the things she's doing to Sarai worked well with that. It was also a way to show the sacrifices Ibuki has to make in her final school year, pushing away friends and family alike as she trains and studies.

PAGE 9: I love these 'same pose/angle' tricks in comics as a way of showing time passing.

I wanted to make sure Ibuki was shown as being interested in Sarusuberi University before she finds out there's a cute boy there. I didn't want her to come across as too vapid/flighty about an important decision like which post-secondary institution she'd attend.

Omar using Geki's Street Fighter I design art in the notes in panel 4 was a nice nod to the game.

PAGE 10: More school drama. I was a bit worried that there wasn't enough fighting in this 'Street Fighter' issue, but at least there are other kinds of conflict to be had.

Elena's line about 'It's sad to hate people...' is a direct quote from one of her victory speeches in the video game. I worked a few of those in to the mini-series as in-jokes for fans of the game.

PAGE 11: The manga love clichés kick in here, but they're fun. In the script, I just called the cute guy 'The Boy'. Omar used the exact angle and shot of Sarusuberi U from the game ending here, which was nice.

PAGE 12: I wanted to make sure that Ibuki came across as a proper teenage girl in this mini-series. Just because she's a strong female lead, it doesn't mean she can't swoon about a boy or be girly at times. There's a balance to be struck.

PAGE 13: I knew the comic was going to have to fast track the majority of Ibuki's school days and training, so it was time for a heavy-duty montage. There had to be a sense of crushing expectation here and the formal ninja gathering seemed an apt way to crank it up.

PAGE 14-15: This two page spread worked well as a way of showing the two crucial aspects of Ibuki - teenager and ninja. Balancing those two parts requires all of her effort.

PAGE16-17: And another spread, this one with even more panels and frequency to increase the feeling of time passing. Whereas the previous spread had two distinct 'halves', now both lives mix together with panels, one after another, showing how intense Ibuki's life is during this period. Omar did a masterful job with this one too.

I'd originally included some references to Ibuki's G-File mission from the 3rd Strike game in to these montages, but Matt and Erik both felt that it was too much continuity to add in so briefly, especially since we wouldn't be referencing it again in the mini-series. In terms of a time line though, this is where I envisioned that mission would take place.

PAGE 18: Anyone who's played through Street Fighter III: New Generation or 2nd Impact will recognize this as an almost panel for panel reproduction of Ibuki's game ending. Using all the official Ibuki story material from the games and filling in the gaps was one of the challenges I gave myself on this series, and being able to use this while advancing my own plot was fun.

PAGE 19: Again, Sarai's emotional contribution was increased and I think it gave the story more resonance.

PAGE 20: Ibuki is a true friend - she wants to help Sarai but knows that it's important for her to earn her own place amongst the ninja. This scene also gave me a way to show how Sarai starts her ninja training (which is shown in Ibuki's Super Street Fighter IV game ending).

PAGE 21: Considering that there's minimal physical fighting this issue, a lot ends up happening. Here we set up the major conflict of issue #3. I wanted to make sure Enjo and Sanjou were shown as stern but also supportive. They expect a lot from Ibuki and the reason why they simultaneously give her a lot of leeway but also push her to extremes is covered in issue #4 in a way I hope readers will feel expands her character.

PAGE 22: One of the only canon parts of Ibuki's back story Capcom laid out is that Ibuki's ninja test involves fighting Oro. Setting that up brings the story to its next big push forward and I'm excited to see what people think of issue #3 where it all plays out.

I hope you're looking forward to issue #3 arriving in June/July.