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The Patron Saint of Superheroes

Chris Gavaler Explores the Multiverse of Comics, Pop Culture, and Politics

First off, yes, there’s a sex scene missing from the 1986 teen film classic Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Secondly, no, the scene isn’t posted here. It’s not posted anywhere. I seriously doubt it was ever shot. But I suspect it was written–or that it at least existed in writer/director John Hughes’ head while he was filming. I think the actors figured it out too, especially Mia Sara who played Ferris’s girlfriend.Mathew Broderick and Alan Ruck may have been clueless.

Since I’m co-teaching a “Making Comics” course this coming spring term again, as well as revising a requested book proposal on the same subject, I thought I ought probably to try my hand at making some comics of my own. I’ve been experimenting extensively with single-page comics, so I thought it was time to expand to multi-page. The working draft of “Ferris Bueller’s Missing (Sex) Scene” is currently nine. It’s an odd choice for subject matter, though since I started it the day after my mother died, I suspect it’s secretly about the deleted scenes of death and Alzheimer’s–or will be as I continue making it.

For now, there’s page one at the top of the screen. Or actually page two, since there’s a splash page I’m not including here. In fact, I’m not including anything here but this page. I’m more interested in the process of creating it, since that’s the topic of both the course and book I’m re-working. Last time I taught “Making Comics,” I had my students write scripts–a step I now think is antithetical to the comics form.  Prose is made of words, and so prose writers draft on paper, thinking in and discovering their stories through words. Comics are made of images, and so the drafting process needs to be image-based. A comics creator needs to think on paper too, just not the same kind.

So here’s my drafting-in-images process:

1. Order the film online and snip three frames from the scene when Cameron is catatonic for fear of angering his father and Ferris is monologuing about how Cameron’s life will be ruined because he’s a virgin.  Like the rest of the film, the actual scene includes a lot of close-ups of Matthew Broderick talking to the camera, but I focused only on the supporting cast. 

2. Paste into Word Paint and start digitally wood-cutting. Get weird with Sloane’s hair. 

3. Admire the pleasant oddness of the stripped down elements juxtaposed with the remaining photos. Spend a lot of time perfecting Cameron’s hair too.

4. Recall that a standard comics page has a 2:3 ratio and space accordingly. Add a talk balloon simply because it looks cool spatially. Fill it with blue sky, because that might look cool too.

5. Experiment with a movie poster overlay to suggest how annoying it must to be Ferris Bueller’s best friend and girlfriend. Decide against it.


6. Add a border, because, wow, that’s easier to keep track of live space, and then drop in the lines of Ferris’s monologue. To avoid a typeset look, drop each word in separately.  Oh, also see what happens if Sloane’s weird hair design is in her talk balloon too.

7. Try several word arrangements. Also, overlay Ferris’s blown-up vest as font color, same as the border.

8. Drop in a very subtle subtext background.

9. Realize that sticking to the same font looks better, even if you did waste a half hour perfecting those hand-drawn spray-paint letters. Settle on a final arrangement, pleased by how the center of the “X” focuses attention on Cameron’s head in Sloane’s hands.

10. Reflect on how even the unwritten “script” in your head for this page would have produced nothing like this actual page. Which was really my only goal, and one I happily if idiosyncratically achieved. Yeah for me.

11. Start the next page.

(To be continued … ?!?)


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