A Writer’s Commentary: ROGER LANGRIDGE talks BETTY BOOP #4, on sale NOW

A Writer’s Commentary: ROGER LANGRIDGE talks BETTY BOOP #4, the series finale, on sale NOW from Dynamite!

Page 1

A tone-setting splash page, with the essential elements of the story to come all laid out. This month it’s movies and fiery pits, and a theme of things not being what they seem. Don’t fall for it, Betty!

Pages 2-4

Setting up this issue’s conflict. Our bad guys are shown here on the skids, begging for pennies, digging in trash cans; all of this stuff is a part of the down-and-out Depression-era ambience that the original Fleischer cartoons evoke so strongly, as is the idea of a “matinée idol” as seen on page 3. None of these things are exclusive to the 1930s – we’re playing it pretty loosey-goosey with the exact time these stories are set, after all – but when you throw them all together they have an evocative period flavor.

Pages 5-7

Betty’s begging for money, too – but her intentions are entirely charitable in nature. I managed to concoct another excuse to have Betty sing and dance – that’s very much her thing, after all – but of course, conflict can never be far away (otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a story!) so Mr. Finkle has a hissy fit about it and, hey presto, we’ve got a dilemma to resolve before we’re done.

Pages 8-9

Grampy’s getting bamboozled again! It’s often said that a lot of young people today only want to be reality TV stars, as if that’s a new thing. I’m not sure it’s so very different from the star-struck youth of the 1930s dreaming of becoming movie stars. Certainly, if someone plopped a contract down in front of you and promised to make you a star, then or now, it’s something you’d at least have to think twice about. Anyway, it all turns out to be a trick, and now Lenny Lizardlips and his ghostly henchmen have the gateway to the Netherworld they’ve been after.

Pages 10-12

Reveal! Lenny Lizardlips was Scat Skellington all along! (Well, sort of.) I love the way the three ghosts look in their “Hot Stuff” costumes. A figleaf of exposition here to give this transformation some context before we throw another spanner in the works with the return of Mister Finkle…

Page 13

I wracked my brains thinking up a resolution to the whole “Mephistophelean contract” problem for ages until I thought, why not fight fire with fire? If the denizens of the underworld put such great store in contracts, couldn’t they be defeated by one as well? That’s really where I got the idea of making Scat Skellington and Lenny Lizardlips one and the same – I worked backwards from that solution and set things up to make it work. Think I got away with it – just about.

Page 14

An explosion. The people like a nice explosion.

Pages 15-17

The real Scat Skellington is saved! I didn’t want to do away with him completely – it’s nice having a Cab Calloway analogue knocking around – so I thought we could make Lizardlips’ impersonation just that, and have the genuine article just conveniently out of the way.

Page 18-20

Celebratory singing and dancing around a honky-tonk piano seems to me like just about the ideal feel-good ending for this series. Gisèle Lagace splendidly gives this scene the joyful ambience I was hoping for. Everybody gets a moment – even poor old Pudgy the pup, who was a bit under-used here otherwise, poor li’l fella. Plus: we get a raise and a promotion for Betty on the final page, now one step closer to her dreams of becoming a star – and hopefully giving us some new territory to explore, now that she’s a full-time performer, if there’s a follow-up series at some point in the future. Until then, that’s Gisèle and me over and oop-oop-a-doop!