The Gang

Annotations for Trail of Tears and Epilogue from “By Factory smoke and acetylene light”

COVER – Done by my friend J.K. Woodward. J.K. has been instrumental in the look of Mary since almost the beginning. He came up with the idea of Hoax having the black and white stripes for her visual motif. Curiously this was the first time he’s done Loki (the little imp guy).
The title: “By factory smoke and acetylene light” is taken from the Police song Invisible Sun.
INSIDE COVER – Repurposed image from J.K. Digital Webbing issue #23
CREDIT PAGE – Little seen Crazy Mary cartoon version by J.K. Woodward.
FORWARD BY TONY LEE – A dear and gracious friend and a damn spiffy dresser to boot.
DRAGONFLY COVER – Dragonfly’s are Mary’s animal totem (mine too); it can freely move between the dream world and real world. There isn’t a better description of Mary out there. You’ll find plenty recurring Dragonfly based imagery and themes in Mary.
Not the first Crazy Mary story I ever wrote (third actually) but this is where it all begins. Turn the way back machine to SDCC 2002 and I’m eating from a bucket of meat with friends and friends of friends. At that table eating tri tip is a punky looking guy by the name of James Woodward. First look would put us worlds apart but we quickly discover a common ground of sardonic humor and Bowie fandom. I give him a copy of the trail of tears script, which had been languishing for a year or so, and forgot about the whole incident in a fruitful attempt to blur the night with booze.
Imagine my surprise when about two months later I get page 1 of Trail of Tears in my e-mail. J.K’s work was in greyscale because we were going to take it to Digital Webbing an anthology book that was B&W. JK built the work for the future, though with the lush scales. That future was realized for the graphic novel when Josh Finney colored the story. The pallet Josh uses builds off of JK’s work; muted but enhancing. Personally I find it absolutely breathtaking.

PG 1
The first page I aimed for a cinematic trick; a dolly back going from a tight to a wide. J.K. absolutely killed it!
Pn 1 – Tight on eyes rain rolling down, or tears? Visually this creates a connection to the child and teddy bear long before we see the silver thread. As sappy as it might sound, yes, the teddy bear is crying for the little girl too. Sounds cornball on paper but visually you can’t argue with the effect.
Pn 2-5 – The rest of the dolly back/wide shot; the sense of isolation and loneliness surrounded by people is palpable.
Pn 6 – Our nice wide reveal and introduction of Mary. Who is this woman that found a lonely abandoned teddy bear in the bustling mob? This whole page works so well as an intro to both the story and Mary. It grabs and reels in. Still one of my favorite pages, ever.
PG 2
Pn 1-4 – One of the things I learned early on was bridging the visual gab to Mary’s abilities. I have to usually burn a panel or two setting up her P.O.V. At least in the early stories, figuring that when things became more established I could shortcut. That being said these panels are not wasted space. You can see the wheels turning in Mary’s head and Glimmer’s narration feeds info about the world. Both converge in
Pn 5 – Mary’s P.O.V. This was, according to JK, the panel that convinced him to do the project specifically the giant mosquito piercing the guy’s neck. I script these panels something like They Live on a DMT/Acid trip. Every artist I’ve worked with digs and/or fears these panels because except for specific plot points they got free reign but have to go weird. JK’s more personal work dovetails perfectly with that requirement.
PG 3
Pn 1 – Another visual insight; Mary is the only one going in that direction against a sea of indifferent umbrellas. I had this in an old screenplay I wrote. It worked so well metaphorically I nicked it for Mary.
Pn 4-5 – The Jumbotron clues us as to what Mary is after. Glimmer’s narration on Pn 4 mentions Col. Tarus. I have yet to do a full story with him even though he’s an important part of Mary’s world. Further I have worked a lot of totem symbolism into Mary; try googling bull totem sometime.
PG 4
Would you believe there was about two months in-between writing pg 3 and 4? I wasn’t sure where to go after the quest started; was the child across the city? Should there be more obstacles between Mary and the place the kidnappers were holding the child? Finally I realized I was overthinking it and just had Mary go down an alley leading to the kidnapper’s hideout.
Pn 3-5 Another visual set-up for Mary’s P.O.V. by now just about anybody would understand what this weird shit is about, at least on a visual level. I do dig using these normal view/P.O.V. panels.
PG 5
Pn 1-8 Trying to build tension. A lot of subtle work on J.K.’s part.
Pn 9 – I always loved this shot.
PG 6
This was a miscue, I blame myself; either I was too heavy handed with what I was going for or didn’t properly explain it. I meant to have a straight-on shot of Mary landing on the other side of the fence and the tears and other background elements added up to dragonfly wings on Mary’s back. That being said it’s a great panel on its own although the dramatic emphasis seems to be misplaced.
PG 7
Pn 1-4 – A nice build-up of tension in these panels. The action of the story morphs a bit. I was demonstrating the versatility in the world I created. Glimmer’s narration has been dramatically intersecting with the action while still informing.
Pn 5 – Note the dragonfly images on the window sill.
PG 8
Pn 1-3 A stealth takedown. I think I was playing Syphon Filter and Tenshu a lot when I wrote the script. I loved the sneaking and quite takedown. Also pallet-wise a great example of Josh’s work between these panels and Pn 4-6.
PG 9
Pn 1 – Awesome tense panel, note little dragonfly motif in the window order viagra online jams.
Pn 6 – The tide is turning, the sun is breaking through the clouds. It’s no accident it’s at the exact moment Mary saves the kidnapper from falling to his death.
PG 10
Pn 1-3 Perhaps you’ve seen the Mythbusters ep about using guns akimbo? Sure, two guns at once looks cool in every action movie, comic book and video game ever made, but it’s almost impossible to actually HIT anything in real life. These three panels might depict the only working use for two guns at once.
Pn 4 – Note she holsters one of the guns.
Pn 6 – Room number 1023. You’ll see a lot of 23 and multiples of 5 pop up in Crazy Mary.
PG 11
Pn 2 – The guy in the fedora hat always makes me think of Art Carney (Norton from the Honeymooners), even the look.
Pn 3 – Oops, she has two guns. Ok, I’m not immune either.
Pn 4 – Non-Norton guy smashing through door headfirst, sunlight pouring through. A little lense flare to sell it (Note years before J.J. Abrhams over did that trick in the Star Trek reboot).
PG 12
Teddy bear and little girl reunited. The rain is gone and the sun streams through. On paper that metaphor seemed a tad heavy but J.K. and (later) Josh sell it perfectly.
As a follow up note; that damn teddy bear has been a recurring visual anchor of almost every pin-up and artist interpretation done of Mary. It’s interesting how small (what you think are throwaway) bits connect with the readers and outside creative folk. As far as I’m concerned it can stay a lynchpin of the Mary mythology as long as I’m writing the book.

It’s odd to me that a two page epilogue that was written nearly ten years after Mary was first published serves as the reader’s introduction to the core characters. But perhaps it makes more sense than at first look; I’ve have lived many years with these characters so a little two page character study simply WORKS better than it would several years ago. At least in a fine tuned way; these characters pretty much sprung forth whole but the banter has the weight of years. Tweek and Glimmer’s bickering has evolved. Originally Glimmer was mostly puzzled and slightly irritated by Tweek. Glimmer’s quippy antagonistic attitude towards Tweek is his way of coping with a tech weirdo that takes a drug that gives him a different personality every time they meet. Tweek’s Johnny Rotten-esq persona is the closest thing to a default personality he has and also has the most caustic relationship with Glimmer. Mary’s coffee addiction is something that kinda developed over the years too.

PG 1
The years working as a pro in comics have sharpened J.K.’s considerable talent to a ginsu edge this page is a hell of a lot more dynamic in the layout than I could’ve come-up with.
Pn 1 – Mary delivering the kidnapped child from Trail of tears back to her parents. There was a lot of “If you can fit this in…” stuff in these script pages, just the pop up window to “find freelancers in your area” could be squeezed in.
The little girl’s last name is Forestburg. They are friends of mine and do have a girl, so I guess the kidnapped girl’s first name is Lola.
Pn 2 – This was another panel that had a lot of stuff there was no room for including one bit which I nicked from Paul Cornell’s work on Dark X-Men because it was so a clever, I couldn’t resist. Here is the excerpt from my script:
Each character has a caption over their head:
MARY – SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY – Ghost in the machine.
The Police, as noted in the title of the Graphic Novel, are one of two house bands for Crazy Mary.
Note Glimmer’s playing card.
This is Tweek’s first appearance, for all of you. Originally he was modeled after Liam Lynch of Sifil and Ollie fame. I met Liam while I was working on Babylon 5. This version of Tweek bears more than a passing resemblance to Mr. J.K. Woodward (cue shrieking tween girls).
Pn 4 – Glimmer’s playing cards project holograms. In a shelved 4 issue story Glimmer uses his holo-playing cards to escape from a gang of killers. This gives him at least fifty four (two jokers) different tricks to pull out at any given time. In a weird bit of synchronicity (great Police album BTW) two different times I was in the middle of writing scenes where Glimmer used one of his cards I found playing card lying on the ground.
PG 2
Pn 2 – The idea of running DC power through a cup of two week old coffee is hysterical to me. That it’s just part of Tweek’s shambles of a living/working space is even funnier.
Pn 3 – Sigma waves don’t exist. I’ve extrapolated from the known brain waves. Sigma waves also get play in the last story “Deal”. A connection between coffee and Mary’s halucinations?
Sync, by the way, is a party drug Tweek is exceedingly fond of. More will be learned in future stories but essentially it “blank slates” your personality and you can input stimulus (via TV, music, books, whatever) to craft a new, temporary personality. One catch is that the new personality is subject to the user’s interpretation of the stimulus. An example would be taking Sync and listening to Kanye West; you would then imprint the public traits that resonate most with your subconscious, like being a pompous egomaniacal douchbag, but not automatically be able to imitate his (admittedly amazing but increasingly strange) flow. Sync is part of the “Subjective nature of reality” theme that drives Crazy Mary as a whole. It also gives me an excuse to have Tweek dress as Roy Rodgers one story and Abraham Lincoln the next.
Pn 4 – It’s not the fact that Tweek has been running electricity through the coffee for two weeks, or even that the coffee is two weeks old. It’s the fact that the coffee is decaf that is the final straw for Mary. She heads off to Apollo’s coffee (not originally a recurring set but it keeps popping up) and right into the next story “Coffee and Dreams”.
Pn 5 – The Cyberchurch – worth noting for future reference.


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