Cosplayer and writer Ani-Mia brings us another exclusive Writer’s Commentary on her recent writing gig, Bettie Page: The Alien Agenda #4. Another insight into the thinking and writing process behind Bettie Page’s latest adventure. You can catch her commentaries for issues #1 here, #2 here and #3 here.
[+++ WARNING: Potential spoilers! Buy and read the book, then come back here for some cool commentary! +++]
Here we are on issue #4. The big turn before the end of the journey; and also, the final location to find through riddles, puzzles and even booby traps.
Page 1: And what better way to start that last stretch than with a moment of rest and a chance to get our favorite pin-up star into a cute bikini at sunset.
Page 3: Young-ja can seem incredibly mature for her age and we sometimes forget that she still isn’t out of her teens. The moment with the machete was a fun scene where you get to see her youthful energy and enjoyment, while also getting the “big sis” sense from Bettie and Sofia. It was a great way to show how close they have gotten over the course of the adventures.
Page 7: I feel the best way to have a chat is over food and Young-ja always comes prepared with a small buffet of local fare. Being a dessert girl myself, tres leches is definitely one of my favorites.
Page 8-10: I’m so amazed at how well Celor was able to capture the falling bridge scene. It was one of those scenes that played out in my head like a movie but being able to capture that same anxiety and pressure in comic panels would be a little more challenging. And in the end, it was all up to a leap of trust.
Page 12: I wanted to give this impression that our team had almost fallen through time. They should be underground but instead, there’s sky. Wildlife that they hadn’t seen before. Basically, Sofia’s dream. This was also another area where I did some research to find an extinct plant for Sofia to recognize. Finding a flower that conveniently smelled like chocolate was perfect for both Sofia and Young-ja.
Page 13: As an art history major, one of the courses I took in college was on Aztec and Mayan art so this issue was a lot of fun for me. I really wanted to reflect the ancient culture correctly, especially their warrior attire.
Page 14: Again, another test of trust and friendship. Many adventurers would probably protest getting that far and being denied their conquest. This is a perfect way to separate those looking just for the reward itself from those that can put aside their own need to know or have in order to ensure the safety of all.
Page 15: Having been to the temple myself, it’s incredible to see these immense structures that were created without any modern technology. The amount of effort it must have taken is hard to imagine.
Page 17: Ancient Mayans are often shown as being brutal and it’s not untrue that they used fear and depictions of death to control their citizens. They were especially known for the human sacrifices of conquered warriors at many of the temples in order to appease the gods. Instead, I wanted to show their sense of community as well as their interests in mathematics and astrology.
Page 19: Trying to find a way to hide a set of coordinates within a painting was difficult, to say the least. I knew I wanted the end result to be an exact location but how do I get that across without it being too obvious. I eventually ended up on a website about geocaching. Geocaching is real world adventuring. Someone will place something in a location in the world and then leave clues for others to follow. It’s like a global treasure hunt and some of the locations are very carefully hidden. That’s when I noticed that some clues would be left via morse code. Since they are dots and dashes, it was easy to use these as an added decorative element to the painting.
The painting itself is modified from an existing wall mural depicting the tree of life, with aliens substituted. Another attempt at bringing real art history into the storyline.
Page 20: The 4th wall break. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it or not. Part of me felt it might be a little hokey but, at the same time, I wanted to make sure the readers knew that they could join in on the adventure and try to figure out the location before the next issue. It reminded me a little of A Christmas Story when Ralphie gets excited about the Little Orphan Annie radio show and is trying to figure out the secret message only to find out it was most likely written by a parent. Except that this message would be a lot cooler.
Bettie Page: The Alien Agenda #4 is out now from Dynamite Comics