Friday, March 9, 2012

Book Review -- Civil War Script Book / Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

If you're looking to write comic book scripts, it's always good to have a few sample scripts on hand to look at. While there's no strict established standard for scripting, there are quite a few similarities between the layout, structure, and basic look of the more established scripts out there.  While the Civil War Script Book certainly isn't the only comic script sample book out there, it's a good example of a script for a sustained story arc, and contains a lot of extras that make it a delight to have around.

The Marvel Civil War was a huge event that took place a few years ago, featuring the majority of Marvel's superheroes fighting against one another over the issue of superhero registration.  It was a massive undertaking, requiring the collaboration of a legion of writers, artists, and editors to keep various plot points consistent and in good order.  In addition to the seven-part chronicle, there were virtually innumerable tie-ins, many of which expanded on smaller-scale stories of heroes, villains, and others who have been affected by the larger issues covered in the main story.

It was also a very involving story to anyone who read it, as I and no doubt others will readily attest.  While I had vehement reactions to the story as it developed, including a bitter resentment of the way it ended, I still couldn't help but admit that it was a hell of a good story.  As I read into how the story was conceived and put together, I was astounded at the sheer amount of manpower involved, the editorial logistics, and the overall feeling that, though this was a tale told by many, it still had the feel of a singular, cohesive story arc.

Civil War Script Book contains all seven scripts written by Mark Millar for the main story arc, along with a bevy of extra commentary, notes, and even some deleted (or at the very least, significantly altered) scenes from the story, from Millar as well as editor Tom Brevoort.  There's also plenty of artwork from Steve McNiven's original pages, as well as a few archive illustrations from other artists to give historical context to some of the relationships and themes addressed in the Civil War.  In addition to seeing how the story was written over the course of seven issues, the reader gets a good deal of insight into the writer's and editor's thought processes and motivations for setting things up the way they do.

One of the first things I noticed about the scene descriptions is that they tend to be very personalized at points, sometimes with the writer directly addressing the artist.  This is obviously something that most new writers won't (and shouldn't, in my opinion) be doing, but it's interesting to see the interplay between the creators beyond what you simply see on the finished comic pages.

Overall, this is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to look at finished scripts, even if they are all by a single writer.  It's also a nice extra for anyone who enjoyed the Civil War story arc, with all of the extras and a healthy does of Steve McNiven's stunning artwork.  While there are plenty of other script books out there that may provide more variety or how-to insight, Civil War Script Book does an admirable job of showing aspiring writers how the creators think during the process.  Highly recommended.

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