LONE RANGER #2 Writer's Commentary with Half the Book!
page-by-page commentary for issue #1 of the series. Today we bring you his thoughts on issue #2, plus his script from a deleted scene cut from the isssue and half of the interior pages from the book. Check back on Wednesday for Parks' commentary on Lone Ranger #3. — Newsarama
In my original pitch for this new Lone Ranger series, I had a five or six page flashback sequence built into every issue. I thought it would provide opportunity to revisit the character's pasts in a way that would connect to the theme of our new stories. We could hint at origins without doing a straight origin recap. I eventually tired of losing those pages to the current stories I was telling, but we open with the device in our second issue.
I knew [series artist Esteve Polls] would draw the hell outta Tonto running through trees and leaping down to a river's banks. I was right. I'm smart that way. Colors by Marcelo Pinto are especially nice in this sequence, too.
I set this about three years before our current continuity. Long enough that Tonto was still with his tribe. He was not yet a lone figure roaming the prairie. Our second arc, “Native Ground” will deal with Tonto's “origin” story: what drove him to leave his tribe behind. It's something Brett Matthews and company hinted at in the previous Lone Ranger series. We're going to dig deeper.
Guys with knives rolling around in water. That's a good visual in any medium.
To be honest, we have struggled with Tonto's tribal origins. If you research Tonto online, it would seem that he is a Pottawatomie. The Pottawatomie lived primarily in the Great Lakes area. While many would be relocated to the west, they would not get as far as the desert areas that would seem to best suit our Tonto. So, I've been fudging a bit... not naming his tribe specifically. Frankly, while I love filling our book with historical details, I kind of like keeping Tonto's tribal identity more universal.
The brave with the bow here is Beshkno. Matthews depicted him as a proud, somewhat bitter brave from Tonto's tribe. He's less bitter at this stage, but still clearly more temperamental than Tonto.
“Tonto turns back to Wabanim's body. Tonto tosses his knife down into the muddy earth next to the river. He is disgusted.”
I wanted to use Tonto to say something about how his culture views killing as opposed to the cold-blooded gunfighter we'll meet in this issue. Tonto's last line here gets at that. It's not important who this brave they were tracking was, or how he betrayed the tribe. What matters for our purposes is how Tonto views the death of a man he had reason to resent. There is nothing heroic here, in contrast to how our gunfighter will be viewed by the public in the rest of this issue.
OK, I know I cheated a bit, having Lone Ranger and Tonto ride with their prisoners from Oklahoma to Abilene in a few days. Hell with it. I wanted to write Kansas.
This page really shows off the always-wonderful work of our letterer, Simon Bowland. Again, everyone on this book places storytelling first. As it should be.
I struggled with a device to provide context for our gunfighter. The Almanac idea really clicked for me once I hit on it. I love the idea that this Almanac would be an old book for our readers, but a blast from the future for our characters.
I love Woodson showing total disdain for the town's no-gun rule.
This page is all about showing how “on the clock” Woodson has to be, all the time. He lives with the possibility of someone drawing on him around the clock. He allows himself to “deflate” a bit in panel five, in the relative peace and safety of his room, but not until he's set a glass by the door and his gun close at hand.
Lone Ranger does not kill. Period. He does fire his guns a lot, though. He shoots guns out of hands on a pretty regular basis. I don't think that hand-shot should be a given. I think Lone Ranger hits his targets, for the most part, but I think the bullet often rips through the bad guy's flesh, which was a helluva would in a world that offered little proper medical care. Hence our first panel. Lone Ranger didn't mean to seriously injure this man, but he may well lose his hand due to infection. Also... a little foreshadowing: see the last page of this issue.
I wanted to get the real Marshal of Abilene, Tom Smith, out of town for this story. His presence would have interfered with our story too much. Smith is a very interesting figure. I may try to get back to him down the line...
More background provided on Woodson, and more glimpses of the life he's forced to live. Esteve does a great job with Woodson puffing himself up for the public in that last panel.
This is one of my favorite pages of Lone Ranger we've done thus far. It shows how Lone Ranger's fame is growing, ponders whether this is a good or a bad thing, shows how kids look up to gunfighters of all type, and lets Tonto get in a great zinger in the last panel. And, Lone Ranger telling the kid to watch his language may be my favorite thing I've written for him. I gotta move on. This is getting immodest.
Obviously, this page is all about pointing out how our two heroes see civilization in very different ways. Honestly, it might be a little wordy for Tonto, but it works. I like the dynamic Tonto outlines here: his people seeking harmony with nature while the white man tries to beat it into submission.
Lovely last panel. Fantastic work by Esteve and Marcelo.
A little Lone Ranger counterpoint to Tonto. Of course, Tonto gets the last word. I think this page is a nice example of having the characters “do something” as they talk. It's not a lot, but walking to the barn to get Tonto's horse is a lot more interesting that two guys just standing around. Of course, Esteve stages it all so well.
Alright... we've gone too long without some action. Bear with me. It's coming. Esteve does a good job with this bar/restaurant setup. It's tricky to make it familiar without resorting to every Hollywood Western cliché. I like the tablecloths on the dining tables at the edge of the room. That's a touch I don't recall seeing before. Again, not in the script.
I like the way the Almanac text works with the art to create a feeling that Woodson is always watching, and that something is building here. Dropping the names of real Old West figures in the Almanac text helps give Woodson some more weight.
Woodson sees the trouble before it starts. He'd just as soon not kill anyone, but he's ready. He also doesn't give a damn about being honorable. He kills the kid without standing or even showing his weapon. The kid is coming after Woodson. The kid dies. That simple. The kid's last words here hint that there is another shooter. Of course, the dying kid could be talking about his brother. That's probably what Woodson thinks at first...
In panel two, the kid's dying words combine with the sound of a gun being cocked to tip Woodson off to another shooter. The script specified that this shooter is carrying a weapon that required noise before firing. Hence the rifle and the shooter's long coat (for obscuring the weapon).
Woodson acted without hesitation, but he's not thrilled that his stay in Abilene will be so brief. He's not eager to hit the trail again.
I like Lone Ranger running his hand over the mattress, anticipating his good night's sleep in a real bed. I try not to have the Ranger swear much, but the symmetry of his “Damn.” after Woodson's was too nice to resist.
This kind of crowd scene, with the Ranger parting the crowd in the final panel, is the kind of thing that's easy in film but tough in comics. Esteve does is perfectly.
Again, panel two is tough to pull off. Thanks to Esteve and Simon, I think Jimmy's nervousness and Lone Ranger's calm plays really well. I like Ranger saying “You did good” instead of “You did well”. The Ranger usually speaks well, but this feels natural.
Love the silhouette of Lone Ranger in that final panel.
PAGES SIXTEEN TO EIGHTEEN
The big talk! This story came from a simple idea: Have Lone Ranger meet a tough old gunfighter. Have our hero who does not kill come up against a man whose life is defined by killing. It's a clash of two ideologies, and of two ways our culture sees its heroes. Woodson has been reading men for a long time. His life has depended on reading men... seeing what they're capable of in an instant. He reads Lone Ranger well, at least as seen through Woodson's eyes.
By the way, I wasn't crazy about separating Lone Ranger and Tonto for this issue. Tonto didn't get a lot of “screen time” in our first issue, and I was worried about giving the impression that we were minimizing him in our new book. I just thought he would throw off the dynamic between Lone Ranger and Woodson too much. Starting next issue, Tonto's presence become more integral.
Really setting the stage for Lone Ranger's dilemma here. He can't let Woodson face the angry mob or there will be more bloodshed. He also can't just gun Woodson down. Again, Woodson's posture in panels three and four says it all. He's tired, but he puffs himself up before opening that door.
Lone Ranger is fast. I think he's close to as fast as Woodson was in his prime. He's faster than Woodson as an old, tired man. I thought we might get some push-back about how Lone Ranger solves this ethical dilemma, but it seemed to fly with all involved.
Lone Ranger is a thinking man. He knows Woodson will continue to cause death wherever he goes. Eventually, Woodson himself will get shot down. Lone Ranger takes Woodson's gun-fighting ability away from him here. He's giving Woodson a chance at something different. Will Woodson take it?
Love this last shot of Lone Ranger. So heroic. Damn! Have I mentioned how lucky I am to be working with Esteve?
I think it's a bit tricky to flash forward in our continuity, but I didn't see any other way. Since it's one page, and no one mentions Lone Ranger, I think it works. Woodson has made the most of the opportunity provided by Lone Ranger's bold action. That's what our first two issues have been about. It's what this whole “Hard Country” arc is about: the Old West was a tough place, but one bold hero (or two, as the case may be) can still make a big difference.
Remember that killer's infected hand on page six? Now we see that Woodson lost an arm after being shot by Lone Ranger. I don't want gunshots to be meaningless in our stories. There are consequences when you pull that trigger. This time, it worked out for the best overall. I love the poignancy of that last panel. I'm fond of the ghost line in the Almanac text, and Esteve nailed the shot of Woodson. The porter drops Woodson's new name, letting us know why he vanished from the history books before leaving the Wild West behind.
LONE RANGER #2 Deleted SceneI initially wrote this final page for Lone Ranger #2. I like it, but I decided it was too similar to the framing sequence for the final issue of the Lone Ranger: The Death of Zorro series. I scrapped it in favor of the page at the train station that made the final cut. I like the new version. It fits the Woodson character better. Still, this one has its charm. 1 page
The future. A state fair in Kansas or nearby. A younger wife brings old Gun a lemonade. Sets it on a table next to him. He's here to meet people and sell/sign his little autobiographical book. One arm is gone above the elbow. The other he can handle pretty well. A kid comes in, awed. Asking about killing. Asking if it's true that Gun met LR. That LR was real. Gun smiles... final line. Wife in the shot. It has been a good life for Gun.
Establishing shot of a fairgrounds in western Kansas, circa 1900. It's a good-sized fair for the day: lots of animals in display, along with games of skill and attractions. There are many attractions, from freaks to semi-famous characters of the old west. The fair is pretty crowded on a hot summer day.
Kansas State Fair. 1898.
In a tent that houses a number of the attractions, we see an attractive and well-dressed woman of about sixty-five carrying a glass of lemonade. She moves toward an old man who sits in a folding chair. The man is Woodson, aged seventy-eight. We can't see him well. We just see an old man in a black suit in a chair. There is a small table next to Woodson's chair. The table holds a stack of Woodson's autobiography: a short, hardbound book of a hundred pages or so. An attendant mans the tent's flap/door.
The woman hands Woodson the glass of lemonade. Woodson takes it with an old, shaking hand.
Clay... I brought you a lemonade. It's time to open the tent. Ready to sell some pamphlets?
Thank you, Ellen.
Ready as an old man can be.
With the tent open, a line of people stream into the tent. First up is an enthusiastic boy of about nine. The boy is with his mother. Both are pretty well-dressed. The fair is a big deal. Woodson's wife is in the shot. She steps up a bit here.
This is him, son. This man was a real gunfighter.
Marshal. My husband was a marshal.
Hell, Ellen... it's all right.
Tight on Woodson and the boy. We still have not really seen one of Woodson's arms... keep it hidden for now.
WOODSONI was a Marshal in the old west, son. A gunfighter, too, I guess.
Wanna ask me anything? Don't imagine you'll get another chance.
Yessir. Did you ever meet anyone famous in the wild west?
Tight on Woodson as we see, for the first time, that he is missing an arm. The arm Lone Ranger shot in the upper arm didn't survive the injury. Woodson's jacket is pinned up to the shoulder on that side. Woodson smiles. We can see at least part of his lovely wife in the shot, as well.
Famous? Yeah... met a man once... some folks called him the Lone Ranger. Got pretty famous in his time.
In fact, I owe the man. I owe him... everything.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!