It’s ok to be a little jealous of Phil Hester– I think when you run see incredibly talented people doing their thing, you can’t help but see a little of the green eyed monster– I’ll put it to you this way: I’ve played guitar for about 15 years– not at the pro level, but good enough to play in bands and whatnot.
I use the band analogy a lot with comic book creative teams. Inkers are like Bass players, you notice them when they do a bad job– and if you’ve got a killer inker, everyone credits someone else, they’re the unsung heroes of the page and stage. Letterers and Colorists are like Drummers, setting the rhythm and tonality of the page. Finally, Pencilers are your Guitarists and Writers are like Lead Singers.
(Yes, you can now make “out of control ego” jokes about both writers and artists– just go look up some musician jokes and refer to the key I’ve just given you)
The point is, sometimes you run across a guy like Eric Clapton, a guy who is instantly recognizable by both his voice and his tone– and yeah, you’re jealous. That’s ok. He practiced a lot to get there.
Phil Hester is like Eric Clapton. Yeah, I said it.
Probably the only time Dr. Doom and Eric Clapton have been in the same article.
I’ve met Phil a handful of times at various conventions, he’s a super nice and really funny guy– also, likely baffled that I keep referring to him as Eric Clapton, but we’ll get to that in a minute…
“Don’t wait for anyone’s permission to do your thing. Just go. Make mistakes. No one’s keeping score. Nothing teaches like work, so put yourself to work. Now.” – Phil Hester
Phil began his professional career during the 80s B/W indie boom, handling art chores for companies like Silverwolf and Caliber and Now. That work eventually bloomed into a shot on Taboo, sharing pages with the likes of Mobius and Neil Gaiman.
A slew of work through the 90s as a penciler, which you can track here…
Then comes, y’know, Green Arrow, Ant-Man, as well as creator stories like The Wretch (which was nominated for an Eisner), The Coffin, and Firebreather, a personal favorite of mine.
It’s sort of impossible to summarize the amount of work that Hester has put out– at this point, he’s worked with every major publisher on a bevvy of different types of stories–
“I always saw writing and drawing as part of the same storytelling continuum, so it’s more like I just shifted the dial to a different station. My big heroes are cartoonists who do it all; Eisner, Miller, Kirby, etc., so writing and drawing have always been different parts of the same animal to me.”
Ok, we’re going back to the Clapton thing…
Clapton was always big on studying the roots of the blues– It’s no coincidence that he’s jammed with every living blues legend– the guy studied everyone from Robert Johnson, to the Kings (BB, Freddy and Albert), to Bo Diddly. Clapton inherently knew that if you’re going to learn, study from the masters.
Hester did the same with comics: ” most of my really heavy influences are older guys. In comics- Eisner, Kirby, Krigstein, Wood, Steranko, Staton, Toth, Kurtzman, Wrightson, Miller. In fine art- Rothko, Calder, Bellows, Guston, Rothenberg.”
It’s obvious that the writer/artist guys were a big influence on Hester– so it’s no small surprise that he transitioned so fluidly into a writer:
” I own a Frank Miller page from Daredevil. It’s the classic issue in which Daredevil fights The Hulk and takes a huge beating, but keeps coming back. I remember reading it as a kid and thinking, “Wow. Comics were always cool, but this comic is taking me places even movies don’t.” Miller on Daredevil sort of woke the storyteller in me. I bought the page ten or so years later for $400, which was a huge amount to me at the time, the most I’d ever paid for anything and a divorce-able offense. I study that page almost daily and am still in awe of the storytelling Frank was capable of when he was just in his early 20’s.”
told’ja you’d be jealous! Original Frank Miller DD art– WITH THE HULK!
Ok, let’s get on to our script shall we?
Courtesy of Stephen Christy at Archaia Press and Mr. Hester, we have the script for Days Missing #5.
Days Missing is a very unique and interesting book which I highly recommend checking out.
Each issue (of five) takes place in a different time period– something bad goes down, and our main character, The Steward– who observes humanity from the isolation of his library, must intervene to save us from an impending apocalypse. The Steward has the power to “fold” time back 24 hours– Restarting a day and changing the course, but never leaving a memory of his involvement. A very Gene Roddenberry “Prime Directive” concept– but also a very cool one.
The Steward, humanity’s powerful and mysterious guardian, is challenged as never before. Not only by a ravenous artificial life form programmed to overrun the entire planet, but by a shadowy figure whose power and motives make them The Steward’s opposite number.
“#5 is definitely my favorite, because #5 I think by that time, we had read all the materials, my first issue, and we had a real handle of what the character was about, and it was sort of a personal story for me too. I love, I’m a big fan of stories where machines or artificial intelligence becomes sentient. And it was a blast to sort of, through this sort of eternal character who’s in love with our life form, y’know, as we exist, and then have him witness the birth of another one, that may be compatible with him, spreading to the first one. And that was a neat quandary to put him in.”
Phil’s script is a great educational tool because he wears the hats of writer and artist– he has an interesting perspective that I think writers should very much take into account on their own scripts:
“I try not to — as an artist, I try not to make artists draw boring things. And when I do make them draw boring things, I try to reward them later, with something cool. I’ve been on that other end of the equation. People think it’s hard to draw two-page splashes, with a three-point perspective of a cityscape, with all the heroes fighting inside of that. That’s easy, that’s fun, everyone wants to do that. The hard part is drawing two characters just talking on a phone. That’s the rough stuff to me, and it’s hard to draw yourself up to the drawing board to do that work.”
Going back to Phil’s earlier quote about just “doing it”– I’d also like to call out the barebones-ness of his script, which I greatly admire. I think often times, writers look for any excuse not to write.
“I don’t own Final Draft!”
“The macros are corrupt in my Word file!”
Here’s Phil to set you right:
“I don’t have any kick-ass writing tools. I mean, I have a template that I print out so i can draw little thumbnail layouts to accompany my scripts, but I don’t have any cool screenwriting or comics writing program. Does anyone?”
So, there you go! Get to writing!
The Days Missing Hardcover (Collecting issues 1-5 with an introduction by Warren Ellis) is available for $20 here.
You can read the first issue for free here!
And lastly, you can download the script by Phil Hester, right here on the Archive!
Once again, a big thanks to Phil Hester, Stephen Christy, and a special shout out to Mel Caylo at Archaia!!
Follow Phil Hester on Twitter @philhester
Oh– finally, to round off the whole artist as a guitar player thing:
Will Eisner = Django Reinhardt
Jack Kirby = Les Paul
Jim Steranko = Jimi Hendrix
Frank Miller = Eddie Van Halen
…I could go on for hours…Feel free to argue with me in the comments section.