Friday, April 15, 2011


Do you know why there's so much smoking in film noir?  Because there's so much talking in film noir.

When your story calls for some extended conversation with little or no action, those characters need something to DO.  In some cases they need to act to support the dialog.  But a lot of gesturing about isn't appropriate for some scenes or characters.  Say, cool detectives and hardened feds exchanging info on a possible perp.  So what can these characters DO while engaging in vital, story-developing dialog and maintaining a collected, cool demeanor?

They can smoke.  It's a convenient device that's become a staple of detective fiction.

Also, it's period.  Don't mess with it.

The conversational bits are always tricky.  This is why there is almost no dialog in the stuff I do for myself.  Writing dialog stresses me out, and I tend to fall back on pictures.  Clay, however, writes excellent dialog, and so I am forced to grapple with these storytelling issues.

I recently read Stuart and Kathryn Immonen's Moving Pictures, which I highly recommend, and Stuart does a FANTASTIC job of handling the chattier pieces of story.  I need to spend some more time with it and make some notes.


Ben Passmore said...

Those atmosphere shots of the cup or him stubbing the smoke are nice touches.

Great looking as always. Your coloring always make me want to dust of my water colors and gauche.

Jed Henry said...

Someday if you ever do a KKK noir detective bit, everybody can be drooling black tobacco juice during the slurred, drawled dialogue.

And then you can kill them all.

Roland MacDonald said...

This is looking so great. Looks like you have those tricky dialogue passages well under control.

Roberto Zaghi said...

Great blog, great art Jake!
Ah, in film noir very often thy drink whisky too:-) The ladies, especially...

Madeline K. Rupard said...

I just wouldn't have ever had the guts or eye to choose those colors. How is it done?

Danny Allen said...

but can't they just play with bendy straws or chew gum?