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Phil writes...

I didn't get this in before the last cutoff, but here's my ramble/review/response to "The Rock". Many people already commented on it, so I'm going to delve into something that hasn't been gone into in-depth: the non-linear structure. (I posted this a couple of weeks ago in the comment room, but here it is at "Ask Greg", too.)

When I first read the story, I didn't get the point of not telling it chronologically. I enjoyed the issue and thought it might be the best one yet, but the structure was distracting and kept me from fully getting into it. However, having faith in your skills, I analyzed the issue and have come to the conclusion that you're a creative genius. Basically, the story is told in order, not chronologically, but logically, revealing to the readers what they need to know as they need to know it, and not before.


The first few pages serve two purposes: 1) to warn us right up front about the structure of the story, and 2) to hook us like a barbed fishing hook. By the end of page two we can't put the book down even if we wanted to. But by the end of page three, I was starting to wonder how this all fits together. What does Jacob's stone have to do with anything? Macbeth answers on the next page. "It's called the Stone of Destiny."

Page four begins the meat of the story. Macbeth asks the gargoyles to help protect the Stone. There's a one-panel flashback to illustrate his connection to the Stone. Everything progresses chronologically for a few pages until...

There break in the story for travel time, so page seven introduces the villain of the story. Xanatos is aware of what's going on, but he's unconcerned. We see that he's in London with his family. And speaking of family...

Gathelus and Scota are introduced and the backstory of the Stone progresses. By the end of the page, Scota is obviously pregnant. And speaking of pregnant...

Page nine advances some (not just one, but several) subplots from previous stories. Dr. Sato's presence emphasizes that the mutates are creatures of biology, and not magic. And speaking of biology...

The main story continues. We're reminded that gargoyles are biological creatures; they suffer from jetlag. Macbeth says there are ten days until the Stone is moved, which prompts a flashback to Gathelus and Scota moving the Stone. Then ten days later, Hudson and Lex are on the job.

By this time we're wondering, where are the others? Page thirteen gives us an answer while advancing another subplot and setting up future Clan-Building.

Back to the main story again on page fourteen. Although everything looks secure, Macbeth's not so confident, and we see another one-panel flashback to illustrate why and to reinforce his connection to the Stone.

There's another break in the action of the main story, so it's a good time for Shari to take up another page and provide more backstory. But after that we're back to London. Hudson asks, "Who exactly are we expecting?" And the answer is given.

The villain part of the story is filled in with Xanatos, Coyote, and Coldsteel. At this point, some newbies might ask, who is this "Coldsteel"? Shari is right there to answer on the next page and at the same time set up some more future Clan-Building. "It's really a timeless love story..."

Which leads right into Goliath and Elisa. They've got a beautiful scene, and since Goliath doesn't vocalize everything that's in his heart we're treated to a flashback of a happily expectant couple to say what he left unsaid. He and Elisa give in to true love, but...

Sometimes true love ends in tragedy. Gathelus dies, and Scota's life crumbles. Her sons carry on.

That almost wraps up the story. The only thing left is to return to Macbeth and the main plot to set up the cliffhanger that will bring us all back in two months. Make that "cliffhangers, plural," since Macbeth and Arthur would have been cliffhanger enough. But you double the suspense by bringing in the London Clan, too. Plus there are the teases back on page two that leave us anticipating more.


The non-linear structure is fascinating to me. Although everything seems to jump around randomly, each panel and page logically connects to the ones around it in thought or theme, if not chronology. That's not to say I'd want every issue to be like this; it takes a lot of thought and study to understand it all. But as an experimental or occasional format, there's a lot to like.

And before I close, a few words about Shari. Somehow I think that if you had worked on season three back in 1996, Shari would not exist as we know her. But with a ten-year gap there's a lot of backstory to exposit, and I have seen too many times when characters awkwardly discuss things they already know just to inform the reader or viewer. So introducing a storyteller like Shari and connecting her to Thailog (who was in a surprisingly few episodes) is such an elegant solution to that problem. And of course you don't just abandon her in her expository role; there's a lot more to her than that.

Anyway, there's my ramble, better late than never.

Greg responds...

Hey Phil, you can call me a "creative genius" anytime you want!!

"That's not to say I'd want every issue to be like this; it takes a lot of thought and study to understand it all. But as an experimental or occasional format, there's a lot to like."

That's not to say I'd want every issue to be like this; it takes a lot of thought and study to WRITE it all.

Anyway, I love your analysis, because among other things... YOU GOT IT! All that thought, study, time, hair-pulling and packages of index cards feel worth it now.

Response recorded on January 25, 2008