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A Writer’s Commentary: DAVID AVALLONE on BETTIE PAGE #5, on sale NOW!

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  • A Writer’s Commentary: DAVID AVALLONE on BETTIE PAGE #5, on sale NOW!

    A Writer’s Commentary: DAVID AVALLONE on BETTIE PAGE #5, on sale NOW from Dynamite!

    SO MANY SPOILERS. Beware. This is for the folks who’ve read the comic. I mean, this time I’m a week late with it, so no excuses.

    Before we get started, I want to talk about the inspiration for this specific issue of BETTIE PAGE. On the inside front cover, you’ll see a “Special Thanks” to Natasha Kitty Katt. Natasha is an awesome Scottish D.J. who I “met” through Instagram. She’s been a fan and supporter of the comic series, and when I mentioned to her in passing that in the second volume of the SECRET DIARY Bettie was going to be in England, she suggested, “Bettie should come to Scotland!” When Dynamite asked me for a fifth issue of the series, after the “Princess and the Pin-Up” main arc had concluded, but before BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND, I thought Natasha’s suggestion would be a perfect epilogue to one arc, while setting the stage for the next. So issue five became “Bettie in Scotland.” And of course… aside from adorable future D.J.s… who else might you meet in Scotland…?

    Covers: John Royle does Belly-Dance-Djinni-Bettie, with his customary style and beauty. I may have to do this one as a story someday. All of John’s covers could inspire stories, and they have in the past. David Williams’ Bettie seems to be telling everyone to get out of the pool, but they don’t want to listen. Julius Ohta (like Scott, below) had the benefit of knowing the issue’s story: Bettie is reading the script and I wonder if she got to the part with the monster yet. And then Scott Chantler, with Bettie riding the somewhat grumpy-looking Nessie past Urquhart Castle, against the Scottish flag. All fantastic covers.

    Page 1: I have to get something hilarious out of the way. I’m told there’s someone out there in Crazyland who saw this comic and thinks Bettie and Lyssa are in hijabs in the first few pages. Not, you know, long scarves. Beyond all the other things ridiculous about this… hijabs are meant to hide ALL your hair. (Google is your friend!) The way these scarves are worn would not satisfy any version of Islamic practice. Also? They take them off, in public, a couple of pages later. Another big no-no. They are in Scotland, in November, on a Loch. Their ears are cold. And anyone paying attention will realize I put a scarf on Bettie so that there can be the “reveal” later, where the little girl is excited to see that the pretty lady has the same hairstyle. (As the writer, I can also tell you that Bettie is a Protestant – as she was in the real world – and the fictional Ms. Lyssa Druke is a Southern Baptist. The writer himself is not religious at all. Sigh. People are funny.)

    Page 2: One of the nice things that Natasha Kitty Katt did for me… she agreed to read the script and correct any Scottish-isms I had messed up. Seems only fair, since I put her in the comic as a little girl, and that’s her Nana Ella. With no humility, I can report she gave me an “A” on the Scottish dialect in the book, which is specifically from the Edinburgh area, as is Natasha.

    Pages 3 & 4: As you may have noticed… Jordan Michael Johnson takes over the art for this issue, and does a stellar job. (Julius Ohta was busy whipping up BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND #1, and we really wanted to get back to a reliable schedule.) Love his character work throughout, and his take on the Loch Ness monster. We talked about making Nessie more dragon than dinosaur… and something else again, too, as you’ll see. Shout-out to Taylor Esposito for his usual brilliant work, with the variety of little sound effects so perfectly placed, as the Soviet spies start up their boat and chamber a round in a Makarov pistol. Bottom of page four… again with no humility, I love the Captain’s speech about the Loch Ness Leviathan. He’s got kind of a Quint thing going on here, in his total respect for something so much bigger than himself.

    Page 5: Love the panel at the top of the page. Like the rest of this issue, it’s beautifully colored by fill-in colorist Valentina Pinto. Bettie floats the idea that the Loch Ness Monster is, in fact, a Lovecraftian Great Old One. Pretty good theory, Bettie. Wish I’d thought of it myself…

    Pages 6 & 7: Google street map is an invaluable tool for artists and creators. I was able to digitally “walk around” the whole Urquhart castle area, and so was Joseph. He captured it beautifully. Bettie and Lyssa shed those horrible repressive hijabs they weren’t wearing (pro-tip: not a thing you can really do if you wear one) and set up for their super Muslim pin-up photo shoot, like strict adherents of Islam are so well-known to do. (I’ll let it go at some point, but for now it’s still hilarious.) Bettie is wearing the Tunguska Star, as given to her last ish by some aliens. What else would you do with a radioactive alien artifact of unspeakable power if not use it as a fashion accessory?

    Pages 8 & 9: Little Natasha and Bettie compare haircuts. The Russians, in their fake beards, do not care… but are put out by the cavalier use of nuclear weapons as jewelry. On Page 9… I almost never show Bettie taking pictures, which of course took up a fair part of her life. Usually in the comic, events are moving too fast for that kind of diversion, but I thought it worked here.

    Pages 10, 11 & 12: The Soviets make their move, and Lyssa shows off her up-to-date knowledge of handguns. The Makarov replaced the Tokarev in the early fifties as the standard issue Soviet sidearm. Endré, long-time readers of these commentaries should remember, is based very loosely on my good friend, college drama professor (and escapee from the Iron Curtain) Endré Hules. A terrific actor and director.

    Page 13: “Astounding Stories of Super Science” is a pulp magazine first published in 1930. In 1952, it was still going strong. In 1960, the title of the magazine was changed to “Analog Science Fiction & Fact,” or just “Analog,” which is the title it had when I was reading it in the 70s and 80s. This is why I do research. In the first draft of the script, it was Analog… but I got curious and looked up the publication history. Meanwhile, our little hero Natasha throws a rock at a guy holding a gun, with impressive accuracy.

    Pages 14 & 15: Cower in fear before the mighty lettering effects of Taylor Esposito… and Joseph Michael Johnson’s fantastic, Gojira-like entrance of Nessie. Love the silent moment of Nessie staring everyone down through the mist created by her (his? their?) own entrance.

    Pages 16 & 17: Here we reveal that our Nessie is not a dragon or dinosaur (Plesiosaur) as is frequently speculated… but something far more alien and terrifying. A Great Old One, a cousin of Cthulhu. And then things get really crazy.

    Pages 18 & 19: The leviathan would like a chat, through the telepathic control of a little girl. I dig writing crazy ancient monster talk about as much as fifties slang. Nessie (or if Lovecraft was writing this… Nessielathotep?) sets up BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND and releases the girl. When you’re a kid, sometimes you can’t grasp how strange and horrible a thing you’ve just experienced is. To little Natasha, who’s growing up brave and tough, this was all just… grand.

    Page 20: Bettie looks off the future… which includes her THIRD #1 issue in the last two years… and the biggest epic I’ve yet attempted. Betties will live! Betties will die! (Okay, not really…) And the universe will never be the same! Until we reboot the continuity! Come back in thirty for… the Crisis on Infinite Betties… BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND.

    Like last time… while I’ve still got you, special thanks to Kevin Ketner, my editor at Dynamite, whose hard work and diligence makes all this happen. You’re the best, Kevin. (I know all the best Kevins. Fact.)