This is the first actual use of Morty’s (and Noah’s) transformation ray since the final chapter of Phase One. I kept it away from the students in Phase Two because it’s kind of a miraculous device. It healed Jen’s mortal wounds after transforming her into a were-poodle and back again, and with the kind of dangers the kids face every chapter, it would have become the dreaded deus ex machina of this series. At that point I started coming up with the germ of the story that’s unfolding here, where the ray is at the crux of villain Ken’s ambitions, and created the subplot that ran through Phase Two where Jen had confiscated the ray to prevent this kind of misuse.
All of Katsuko’s bears are designed to protect children, so I figured it would make sense if some of them were capable of acting as baby monitors.
The full concept for Katsuko’s bears was originally developed to be its own full story, but it got shelved early in UTC’s lifespan and I’ve had to resort to dealing aspects of the bears out piecemeal whenever there is an opportunity.
I don’t usually like seeing “…” balloons in comics to indicate silence–it seems like it’s overstating the point. Noah wasn’t going to have any speech bubble to indicate that he was gaping silently, but upon reviewing the page, I was worried it would give the impression that I had forgotten to put in a speech bubble. I wonder if that’s why most comics do this sort of thing?
This is the part of the story arc that many writers (particularly screenwriters of action/horror films) hate. At some point you need to assemble all of the various groups and they need to share information with each other that the audience has already learned. It can get clunky and repetitive. Robert Rodriguez brilliantly found a way to skip this section of his film Planet Terror by literally cutting it out and claiming that the theater had misplaced that reel of footage. I have no such fallback option, so I have to just make this as entertaining as possible. Cue crowdsurfing Flint!
Walker, the unicorn guy, is a personal friend and a Patreon sponsor who pledged to the “appear in the comic” tier. We worked out an appropriate role for him in the story and I think the character fits in well. It helps to have one more “anchor” character besides Keris for this scene.
Speaking of friendly influences, Keris’ role in this chapter is an extension of her character arc in “New Tricks,” which another friend wrote. It goes to show that even solo projects can benefit from some good contacts with fresh perspectives.
The first two rows of panels were written for the previous page, with the end panel being the stunned silence of the two students. However, we don’t see Dr. Attic disciplining students much…the only time she did, she was super angry because Morty had turned her own daughter into a giant poodle. So the punchline wouldn’t have come off as strongly as the one about Thirteen pointing to a chameleon on the ceiling, being the only person in the room who even noticed.
UTC has reached a point I’d been waiting for for a long time. With so many different transformations and plots going on, it’s become more natural to write situations where characters can use their “powers” in productive ways. Instead of reworking the story to create an advantage for the main characters, I was able to figure out a way for them to solve the problem that already existed. I had created a problem where nobody could see this girl on the ceiling and I looked through the UTC roster to figure out who could help the most. The answers were Thirteen and Noah. Bam. Pages written.