Of all the hard pages to make in this chapter, this one was hard in a unique way. Over the past few years, due to the rising number of real-life school tragedies in my country, I’ve become extremely sensitive to the prospect of young adults being shot. Even if the argument can be made that Ken deserves what he gets, the echoes of reality in a scene like this—complete with armed military storming the building—chill me to the bone.
Which begs the question “Then why did you write it like this, Jim?” As I was coming up with reasonable conclusions for this finale, I looked at a few possibilities and all of the ones that didn’t involve the authorities coming in at the end lacked the bite of seriousness this story needed to conclude in a satisfying way. If I didn’t bring in an external law force, I’d be sidestepping the truth that this school is already not safe for these kids, and that the actions that unfolded today are too big, too consequential, to be contained to just the building and just the student population. For the series to take the next steps that I want it to take, a line needs to be crossed.
I don’t know if I did the right thing, but that line is now crossed, and we’re going to see what waits on the other side.
One reason why I wanted to have the divided class working together by the end was to highlight just how irredeemable Ken is.
It’s been mentioned a few times since this page released that cancer takes many forms and different types require different treatments. I’m not a medical expert, but I understand that somewhat. I still felt like it was more important to emphasize the victory here. Lawrence puts it plainly and dramatically, if inaccurately. And even if they’ve only found a cure to a certain type of cancer, that’s something to celebrate, isn’t it?
I tried to make this scene as not-cheesy as possible. The “and they all get along now” ending trope is difficult to get just right without the writer coming across as a Pollyanna. It was, however, important to me that the students come together for a common cause despite the bad acts that had just been done.
It took an embarrassingly long time to think about which characters should inspect the transformation ray. I think my first instinct was to have Noah direct some random student how to tinker with it, since the ray is technically Noah’s invention. But of course, it’s Morty’s build. He and Thirteen are the most qualified ones in the room to inspect it. Thankfully I remembered that before drawing the panel!
After making this page I read up on first aid for a broken arm and one article said you should not elevate the head. I assume this has to do with keeping blood flow to the arm to a minimum. Oh well! Ash is just trying to help.
As you can see, I’m still shading the characters even in normal light. This is the first time I’ve done this since page CVI. After the last few dramatic pages, going back to flat color seemed to ruin the visual flow of the story. As the plot has matured, I wanted to continue visually showing dimension on the characters. After comparing the shaded and non-shaded versions of this page, I feel this version is much more compelling and worth the extra touch.
Cass and Noah are running because they played it safe and took a detour to a staircase to get back down to ground level. I had a line for this in the script, but this page was dense enough already without that insignificant detail thrown in.