ISSUE ANALYSIS: Mara #1 with Brian Wood & Ming Doyle

Mara #1

Mara #1

With the release of Mara #1 last month from Image Comics, writer Brian Wood teamed up with artist Ming Doyle for the tale of a star athlete with a secret. It’s yet another unique title from Image, and we wanted to take a closer look at the book.

With the upcoming release of Mara #2 in comics stores on January 30th, 2013, we’re going back to see some Mara #1 pages, from script, to thumbnails, to inks, to finished colored pages, and to add some insight from Brian Wood and Ming Doyle about the process. Wood and Doyle provided us with the script to pages 7 through 9, along with the thumbnails, inks, and finally, colored pages.  In this behind the scenes view, you can see how it all comes together.

We’ll start with page 7 from script to finished page:

Mara #1 - Page 7 Script

Mara #1 – Page 7 Script

Mara #1 - Page 7 Thumbnail

Mara #1 – Page 7 Thumbnail

Mara #1 - Page 7 Inks

Mara #1 – Page 7 Inks

Mara #1 - Page 7 Final Page

Mara #1 – Page 7 Final Page

Brian Wood:

What’s going on here, in this section of the scene, is the first look at one of Mara’s volleyball matches. I haven’t modified the script since I wrote it, and what is still to come is a dialogue and narration polish, to match it all up with the art.  So, here is Mara, her team, and Ingrid, a friend and confidant.  You can see that the ethnicities have been swapped… this was the result of a conversation Ming and I had, as well as a general desire to show an extremely diverse world in this book.  Truly post-racial, to use a term.  All that matters in the world of Mara is competition and physical achievement.

Ming Doyle:

Since I exclusively ink my own work, I’ve never quite gotten the hang of traditional “pencils.” Instead, the penciling stage is where I do all the heavy-lifting composition work, determining action and how I want the page to read. The lines may look quite rough, but it can sometimes take me over an hour to thumbnail a page like this, going back and forth between the script and art, panel by panel. I want to make sure first off that I’ve laid everything out legibly so that the script isn’t obscured, and secondly that I’ve left myself enough room to have some fun drawing!

Brian Wood on page 8:

Some additional world-building here, as well as some basic Mara backstory.  I always try and offset action scenes with some sort of narration, to slow the reader down primarily, but often you can find opportunities to contrast image with words, in a way that creates something that is more than the sum of its parts.

Mara #1 - Page 8 Script

Mara #1 – Page 8 Script

Mara #1 - Page 8 Thumbnails

Mara #1 – Page 8 Thumbnails

Mara #1 - Page 8 Inks

Mara #1 – Page 8 Inks

Ming Doyle:

In the past year, I’ve moved to inking all my sequential work digitally, but whether I’m drawing on a computer or a piece of paper, the process is the same; I lower the opacity of my thumbnails (or break out the old lightbox!), and ink straight over my layouts.

Mara #1 - Page 8 Final Page

Mara #1 – Page 8 Final Page

Page #9:
Mara #1 - Page 9 Script

Mara #1 – Page 9 Script

Brian Wood:

There is no sound here, no sfx.  This is by design… I think we’re reserve sound fx for crucial moments only, as a story-telling element and not just as background noise.  Anyway, the narration is the dominant thing in this scene, the voice over footage, like a documentary.  This information here, in the narration, is right to the heart of this world Ming and Jordie and I have created, one of exploited children (when you get right down to it), and limited choices offset with startling results.  State-run sports programmes, isolation, clear gender lines, and performance trumping all else.

Mara #1 - Page 9 Thumbnails

Mara #1 – Page 9 Thumbnails

Mara #1 - Page 9 Inks

Mara #1 – Page 9 Inks

Ming Doyle:
This is where all the real drawing takes place for me. I don’t physically refine the pencils at all because I can kind of see the shapes I ultimately want to create superimposed over them in my mind. Of course there’s a lot of erasing and second guessing involved in this step, but I like leaving things a bit to chance. By not locking myself in too early, I feel like I have more space to experiment, learn, and even surprise myself. From there, I wait to hear from my collaborators if any changes are needed, then it’s on to the next page.
Mara #1 - Page 9 Final Page

Mara #1 – Page 9 Final Page

Be sure to check out more from Wood and Doyle along with colorist Jordie Bellaire with Mara #2, available on Wednesday!
Mara #2

Mara #2


  1. Can’t wait for issue 2!

  2. really awesome to see the process displayed like this. Thanks for putting that up

  3. How come one of them isn’t wearing a different color? Where’s the defensive specialist?

  4. Very cool to see the process laid out like this.

  5. Fascinating.

  6. love seeing the process…thanks for sharing!

  7. Love the article! I’m a process junkie for sure so I would love to see this a regular feature on the site.

    Also, Mara #1 was a great read. Very good example of giving the audience just enough information. The issue doesn’t overload the reader with exposition, it just gives you enough information to understand the character and setting. Nice cliff-hanger as well!