May 4, 2012: Dark Matter Artist, Garry Brown, Wants To Hear From You!  And Once You Come Up With That Final Act Break, It’ll Be Smooooooooth Sailing!

With the opening four-issue arc of our comic book series, Dark Matter, completed, I thought this would be a great opportunity to have artist Garry Brown swing by this blog for a Q&A.  A native of Scotland and graduate of the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art, Garry has worked for Marvel, DC, BOOM! Studios, Dark Horse, and IDW among others.  Not only did he provide the fantastic artwork for issues #1-4 of Dark Matter, but also did the honors on all four amazing covers as well.

May 4, 2012: Dark Matter Artist, Garry Brown, Wants To Hear From You!  And Once You Come Up With That Final Act Break, It’ll Be Smooooooooth Sailing!

Curious about the process?  Want to know more from an established artist?  Then start posting your questions.

May 4, 2012: Dark Matter Artist, Garry Brown, Wants To Hear From You!  And Once You Come Up With That Final Act Break, It’ll Be Smooooooooth Sailing!

Oh, that reminds me.  The Supermovie of the Week Club (in which we gather to discuss a different superhero-themed movie EVERY WEEK!) reconvenes on Monday when our guest reviewers, Cookie Monster, will weigh in with his thoughts on Batman Returns:

By the way, Cookie Monster takes exception to the accusation he was unduly critical of last week’s film, The Rocketeer.  He did have nice things to say about the look of the movie (not so much about the script) and gave it a very respectable six (albeit sugarless) chocolate chippee cookies out of ten – well above average.

Well, if today’s story breaking session with my writing partner, Paul, accomplished anything, it was to confirm the truism that: “You’re always one act short.”  Whether it’s the Stargate five act structure or the miniseries sixteen, you’ll always find yourself down an act break. We’d been doing so well, breaking four big acts a day, even finishing early yesterday, only to bog down this afternoon and find ourselves staring at fourteen acts and a resolution.  Back on Stargate, whenever I was short an act, I’d always suggest the old standby:

Daniel heads off-screen.  Suddenly, we hear a –

Daniel: (bloodcurdling shriek).

ON the horrified looks of the other members of SG-1.



Picking up where we left off.  ON the horrified expressions on the other members of SG-1.

Sam: Daniel, are you okay?

PAN OVER to Daniel, picking himself off the ground, dusting himself off, and testing his foot.

Daniel: Yeah, I twisted my ankle.  But I’m okay now.


Of course, my fellow writers would always shoot down my “Daniel twists his ankle” reveal (they were always jealous of my ideas: Teal’c twists his ankle, Jack twists his ankle, Daniel is spooked by a ghost but it turns out it’s just a cat rummaging through a garbage can in an alley) so we would have to spend al afternoon trying to come up with an alternative.  That’s what Paul and I did today.  But, unlike those old Stargate story sessions, we failed to come up with an alternative and decided to call it a day before we put our fists through Paul’s brand new whiteboard.  We decided I would start writing up/fleshing out the outline while he gave those final two acts some thought.

This is where you guys come in.  Unfortunately, I can’t say much about the miniseries at this point but I do need that 15th act break, so if you’d be so kind to come up with something we would really appreciate it.

32 thoughts on “May 4, 2012: Dark Matter artist, Garry Brown, wants to hear from YOU! And once you come up with that final act break, it’ll be smooooooooth sailing!

  1. Have the “good guys” sit down for a meal together and get personal with each other before the big finale. This way it will be more impactful when one of them dies…

  2. 15th act break? No problem: chase scene in an abandoned factory; main characters squeezing through one of those really narrow alleyways between two brick buildings where there is barely room to walk sideways (a scene that featured in a recent very strange sake-induced dream I had night before last). You can fill in the rest of the details.
    Um… exactly what is an “act break”?

    Oh, das asked me to share pictures of my garden and new Japanese style addition:

  3. Joe peaks through binoculars, sees the crew playing basketball.

    Joe: They’ve moved the weapons cases.

    Paul: Doesn’t matter. If I thought they could even reach their sidearms, I’d call it off.



    I swear there were way more monster trucks in that scene the way I pictured it in my head. Oh, oh, I have one that comes pre-rejected for being that thing that sort of pops into your head, but you should never really write it down.


    The team reaches the cave-in. Joe crawls toward a gap in the rocks, peers in.

    Joe: It’s a tight fit. If only we had some grease or fat or…



    Oracle: One of you will sacrifice. One of you.


    Joe palms his knife holster, looks at THE FAT GUY.



    The mining crawler climbs steep engine nacelles.

    Joe jumps off the bench seat, rolls onto the hull of the ship.

    The crawler tilts, flips, dumps its ore into the engine intake.


    The engines explode.

    Paul runs out the high bay doors, looks up toward the engines.

    Goon #1 carries a bound settler past Paul, toward the high bay doors.

    Paul: Don’t bother. It’s over. Well, the job’s over.

    Paul leans back, looks up.

    Paul: Go ahead. Do the happy dance.


    Joe: My neighbors are staying. I should be happy, but then again…

    Joe leaps and


    drops onto the ground.

    Joe: …you’re my neighbor now. What are we going to do with you?

    The rest of Paul’s crew arrives, carrying settlers. Half put them down.

    Joe: It would be sweet etiquette if the new members of our community would please cut them loose now. Let’s get off on the right foot, shall we?

    Paul kneels, cuts a settler’s bindings.

    Goon #2: You should know, there were deaths. Vincent. A couple settlers, too.

    Goon #1: Vincent.

    Goon #1 chucks his bound settler to the ground.
    Paul yanks Goon #1 back as Goon #1 kicks, misses the settler.

    Paul (to Joe): You know, you know I didn’t think…I didn’t anticipate there would be deaths!

    Joe: You never do.

    Paul looks in the direction his goons came from.

    Armed settlers charge around the hill.



    Ha! See? I sorta’ got a monster truck in there somewhere. And a space ship. And an explosion. That’s my whole checklist.

  4. Sprained wrist instead of ankle???

    or… someone gets hit in the head with a golf ball, fade to black, fade in, and that person is in bed next to Bob Newhart

    or… have main cast standing around looking at one another in uncomfortable silence as if afraid to be the one to speak first, then finally one of them says, “Ever notice there’s never anything good on TV these days?”

  5. So, the ankle twist is out then?


    How ’bout the “the good guy that died in the third act comes back because he never really died and he’s been working for the enemy all along and is now their nemesis” old chestnut? It’s one of my favorites! Completely predictable, but still fun! You could even throw in a “good guys double-cross the bad guy” in there for the ol’ double twist.

    The next time I post I’ll have to tell you about my visit to Slater’s 50/50. It far exceeded expectations. Gonna be hard to beat that burger. In fact I haven’t had another burger since visiting the place.

    -Mike A.

  6. How about this? End of act 13 closes on the protagonist falling asleep in bed or some other location, Act 14 occurs as normal culminating in an exciting sequence with events playing out badly for the protagonist and his friends (hopefully with explosions and deaths- this has the added bonus that in the preview you can tease the shocking death of a main character.) Start of act 15 shows protagonist waking up screaming and confused, eventually coming to the realization that the previous events were just a dream. Act 15 then showcases a sequence of events disturbingly similar to the events of act 14, with events leading towards the same final exciting sequence where the protagonist is able to save the day through the knowledge gained as a premonition in the dream that was act 14. You can further milk this for your act 16 by cutting to commercial at the exciting conclusion of the events making the audience think that the events ended the same as in act 14, then in act 16 reveal that the main character had made some modifications off camera that result in a different outcome.
    Perhaps you could resolve the situation by revealing that your miniseries exists in the stargate universe and the protagonist and his friends are beamed aboard the Odyssey at the last second- saving them from certain death and gaining instant fanbase for your miniseries 🙂

    I hope that this formula can help you with your block. Please contact me for the address to send my consulting fee. 🙂

  7. “…ahh… I *really* need to pee…?”



    “So. A dozen commercials, LATER! What you do..? Get flushed down a black hole… AWW, shit!! What’s that SMELL?!”

    “..yeah..sorry about that… No TP, had to improvise. — Don’t worry, it’ll grow on you…”

    [sighs] “I know. That’s what I’m afraid of…”

  8. The heroes all break into song – singing Bohemian Rhapsody. One is off key. Tune in after the commercial to find out who.


  9. Geez, Joey, why do you come up with great interactive bloggy stuff when I have a full weekend?! I shouldn’t even be up now but the whole ‘early to bed, early to rise’ thing makes my body think that if I go to sleep at 10 pm, I’m all ready for the day at 3 am. 😛

    Please allow some time before you send the questions off to Garry. I know I won’t even be able to think about it before Sunday night, if that (esp. considering the new Sherlock series airs on PBS this Sunday! Yay!). Maybe…MAYBE…I can come up with something before then if tomorrow night is quiet, but no guarantees.

    Before I hit the sack (again), I’ll see what I can do for you, but this is going to be the lamest of lame attempts at an act break, and not really the right form, but here goes…


    ON waiter steps aside, maitre d’ approaches table and guest

    Maitre d’: I’m sorry, Mr. Mallozzi, but we’re all out of frizzled monkey brains in rendered pork fat and cod sperm bisque. Perhaps the corn tortilla-encrusted tofutton chops…with mint sauce…it really does taste just like lamb…

    Joe: Who do you think I am? Just some…teamster … off the street with a palate as refined as crushed gravel and construction fill?! (bangs fist on table) I’m a FOODIE, goddammit! I demand real meat, and real fat, and real nasty bits of animals no sane person would ever eat unless there’s a gin-soaked dare and a date with your sister involved!

    Maitre d’: My apologies, sir, but we are simply all out of pig fat and nasty bits and…

    OFF CAMERA sound of door opening and person entering

    ON inspirited expression of maitre d’

    Maitre d’: If you’ll excuse me one moment, Mr. Mallozzi, I think we may be able to… yes, excuse me…

    ON maitre d’ walks away, SWITCH TO silhouette in doorway and PAN IN until person is revealed

    Maitre d’: Miss Kardashian! Such an unexpected pleasure! Why, we have just the table for you…

    ON Kardashian walks past as maitre d’ eyes her up and down, slyly licking lips and nodding




    ON greasy bone dropping onto plate of like bones, all picked clean PAN TO guest licking fingers and smacking lips

    Joe (to waiter): Tell the chef he’s outdone himself tonight! Oh, those ribs…and the fat…the FAT! So scrumptious! It just…I never had anything melt in my mouth like that before. It was like ice cream. Only with fat. Fat cream. Simply amazing.

    Waiter: We serve only the best here.

    Joe: Surely the best braised shoulder butt I have ever eaten…

    Waiter (hesitant): Butt…uh, yes. Yes butt, sir, whatever you say, sir.

    Joe (absently): Though I found the frizzled brain… a bit lacking.

    Waiter: Yes, sir.

    Joe: No real substance.

    Waiter: Yes, sir.

    Joe (quizzical, looking around): Uh, just changing the subject here a sec. Didn’t I see Kim Kardashian come in a while ago? I’d love if she could join me for dessert.

    Waiter: Oh, she’s around here… somewhere. I’ll see what I can do.

    Joe: Good. And I’ll have the tiramisu.

    Waiter: With the rum soaked lady fingers?

    Joe: Perfect!

    Waiter (sly grin): Yes, I’ll see what I can do, sir…I’ll see what I can do.


    Yeah, yeah…I know, not an act break, but I was on a roll!! 😀

    Now, to catch two more hours of sleep. 😛


  10. Three words: Surprise zombie attack. Oh,and THEN someone twists their ankle. More peril!

    I’ll have to put some thought into the Garry Brown question.

  11. Thinking back to the series The Event, you can do any crazy thing at the act break and come back from the break at a completely different part of the story. Who’s to say you didn’t deliver on the reveal when the story’s that hard to follow? I was exhausted and disillusioned by having my curiosity jerked around like that and I quit watching, but maybe you could get away with it if you only did it fifteen times.

  12. “we’re all out of frizzled monkey brains in rendered pork fat and cod sperm bisque. Perhaps the corn tortilla-encrusted tofutton chops…with mint sauce…it really does taste just like lamb”

    @Das: About peed myself laughing…thanks for the laugh!

  13. @dasndanger – hehe, good visual on the greasy bones. How about some danger at the end? Maybe they run out of foie gras.

    @Maggiemayday – The Cow and Chicken cartoon and Veggietales are two examples of shows with a whole story each based on pie wars. Just how much pie fighting would you define as enough? Does it need to be live action?


    I think I’ll have some questions for Garry Brown. I gotta’ think about it.

  14. @das – aw, sorry, I scrolled too fast toward the act break – you delivered on the danger. I’m glad Joe didn’t get violent yet.

  15. What? DAS? No “pictures”..? [..never any paparazzi around when you need them..]

    BTW, let me guess… TODD plays the Maitre d’, right? 😀

  16. @ das – Hiliarious! Are you sure you made that up? Sounded so real.

    Some questions for the ultra talented artist Garry Brown:

    – Do you work mostly with pencil and pad or on the computer?

    – What has been your favorite character to illustrate over the years?

    – What was your most fun project ever?

    – Who is your boss, the writer or publisher?

    – When working, what is a typical day like for you?

    – Have you ever suggested a dialogue change to the writer?

    – Who is responsible for the sounds effects, (wham!, krsh!, foom!), you or the writer?

    – Did you or have you ever hidden humorous images in Dark Matter or your other drawings just for your personal amusement or entertainment? (I thought I saw a picture of Joe’s dog in Dark Matter 4 – pg 1, 3rd pic)

    – What did you draw as a kid and when did you know you were pretty good?

    Thank you for taking the time and answering our questions!

  17. @DP, Begin with Blazing Saddles, take a detour into The Great Race, and move on to any decent Groucho Marx movie….. live action is preferred.

    Even an Animal House-esque food fight would suffice.

    Veggietales? Really? Nuh-uh, never ever. They have “morals” embedded in their stories and I’m a big fan of Bad Behavior.

  18. @ Joey – Mr. Das was just lamenting the loss of Universe…and now I’m sad again, too. 🙁 (Also, how did you like the ‘Conan and Elric walk into a bar’ story?)

    @ Deni – 😀 I’ll make sure he never lives that down. 🙂

    @ DP – Your ‘Joe and the FAT GUY’ scene actually inspired mine. I just thought, ‘ya know, if Joe was hungry enough…’, and went from there. 🙂

    @ Elminster – Better catch that lung before someone eats it! 😉

    @ Ganymede – Hmmm…Todd plays the Maitre d’? He does now! 😀

    @ Ponytail – Weeeeell… 😉

    @ Sparrowhawk – 😀


  19. Questions for Garry Brown…

    Firstly, let me say that I really enjoyed the art in Dark Matter. I think it captured not just the essence of the characters, but also the gritty atmosphere of the story, from pencils to colors. Well done!

    Okie dokie, my questions…

    1. Thank you for making the samurai lad so pretty. Did Joe coach you on that, perhaps suggesting that there may be a couple female readers in need of a long-locked, manga-esque character?

    2. Who determined the coloring for Dark Matter – you, or your colorist?

    3. Do you ever do your own coloring?

    4. Have you tried your hand at writing a comic? If not, is it something that interests you?

    5. What are your thoughts on the state of the comic book industry, and the future of the medium?

    6. Do you think that the over-sexualization of female characters in comic books, especially when it comes to the artwork, keeps female readers away?

    7. I understand you’re Scottish. So, what’s really under a kilt? ;o)

    Thank you for both sharing your time, and your talent, with us!


  20. By the way, Cookie Monster takes exception to the accusation he was unduly critical of last week’s film, The Rocketeer. He did have nice things to say about the look of the movie (not so much about the script) and gave it a very respectable six (albeit sugarless) chocolate chippee cookies out of ten – well above average.

    Awwww. I had no idea you’d get so defensive Mr. Monster was so sensitive. I’ll go easier on the poor dear next time. 😉


  21. How about the guy you thought was on your side turns out to be a shape shifter whose is actually working for the bad guys. Not only have you to defeat an alien who is much stronger plus sneakier than you, you also have to find the guy whose appearance he took. If it was a woman, who was also a romantic interest this would have more poignancy.

    Or…one of the bad guys turns out to be an undercover agent of some sort. Only after he has given the good guy a thorough beating does he whisper in his ear revealing the secret. He then shoot/kills his ‘accomplice’ before letting the good guy down and allowing him to escape. He then tells the good guy that he must shoot/give him an injury to sell the story – Hey, I know its not that original but I’m sure you and Paul could put your own spin on it!

  22. Questions for Garry:

    * Do you listen to any type of music when you work to get inspiration?

    * Did you came up with the look of the Ferrous Corp guys on your own, or was it all in the script?

    Joe. I did really enjoy Dark Matter, perfect mix of classic space opera, space western and military sci fi. I still laugh at the “if I’m still reading this right – YOU’RE READING IT RIGHT” bit. If there’s a Stargate moment in the comic, that’s it.

  23. @das – Oh, no, grease, FAT, it was the reveal. We’re going to hell. Writing is bad for the soul. Unchecked, it goes dark! places like Torchwood.

  24. The crew discovers a planet that has space dolphins. They go into the water to go swim with them, thinking they are friendly, one of them gets eaten. Revenge of the space dolphins for the massacre in Taji.

  25. Haha, now I’m wondering if the whole Daniel loses his foot in Continuum was an in-joke. “hey, this time they say ‘what’s wrong?’ and it’s all ‘oh, just my foot freezing off.'”

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