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Saturday, 8 October 2011

DC published the New Teen Titans: Games graphic novel this season, more than twenty years after scripter Marv Wolfman and penciler George Pérez met to map out their story. Such a big event demands more than a single weekly Robin posting.

I’ll start on a personal note: I had stopped reading the New Teen Titans magazine before DC Comics first announced back in the late 1980s that this book was on its way, so I’m not one of those fans who’ve waited for Games for over two decades.

On the other hand, I have been waiting for two years since DC announced that Pérez had resumed work and that it would soon publish the book. Fortunately, having grown to more than twice the age of the heroes in the magazine, I’d developed enough patience to handle that delay.

In fact, the book has benefited in many ways from the long wait. According to Wolfman’s comments in an interview at Bleeding Cool by new Teen Titans scripter Scott Lobdell:
In 1988, I had come up with the basic storyline, but I was then suffering a terrible writer’s block, the only one in my career, thank God, although it lasted 5 years. George, then-editor Barbara Randall Kesel and I talked over what I’d come up with, and because of my block George went home and typed up the overview, breaking it down and filling it out with ideas, etc. We actually print that plot in the Games hardcover complete with annotations so people can see what had been and what was then changed. He then drew between 60-70 pages before going into a Titans block and stopped. I never dialoged any pages since I was waiting for them all to be finished so I could write them all at once. Also, I was hoping my block would go away as didn’t want to do less than my best on it.

But when we finally came back to the story 23 years later, since we had not really worked out the last 50 plus pages in any depth, and because neither of us could remember what we intended decades before, and the plot, frankly, would have felt dated, we decided to come up with a new story, utilizing and making sense of all the pages George had already drawn, yet written to have an entirely new meaning. I started re-plotting the story, adding in a new villains, plot twists and more, as well as suggesting we change the major villain who was actually behind the whole plot, which was new as well. We also had to come up with all new character-driven scenes to make what was supposed to have been a pure action story into something much more. (As a companion piece to the regular book we were working on, a solid action book would have worked. Twenty-three years later that would not have been satisfying to any of us who had been waiting so long.)

Knowing the new character scenes which George and I worked on together, batting ideas back and forth as we always had, I then was able to dialog the earlier, already drawn pages, in a way that would cleanly set up where we were going to go. When you read it you will assume that was what was intended all along, because the copy and art work perfectly together, but it’s new. George and I would go back and forth and I’d rewrite the ideas and we finally had a story that was much, much stronger than had originally been designed.
That delay also meant that Games has ended up standing outside the standard DC Comics continuity—which might well be a good thing.

TOMORROW: The weekly Robin explores the New Teen Titans: Games pocket universe.

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