The use of transitions in Supreme 63

Alan Moore’s final Supreme story, Supreme 63, was published something like 10 years after it was written.  I enjoyed the heck out of it, and did write this short article providing a bit of analysis.

One thing that stands out in most of Moore’s scripts is the way he uses transitions. He talks about this in his writing comics book. I haven’t read it recently, but as I recall the idea is to have the end of a scene lead into the next scene. Moore describes this as inducing a trance state in the reader, as they are lead from one scene to the next.

I think of it as making the scene beginnings and endings rhyme. Here’s how it works in this issue of Supreme:

In an early scene, we have Supreme’s arch-nemesis, Darius Dax, trying to figure out why a comic by Supreme’s girlfriend, Diana Dane, has so much information about Dax:

Darius Dax mentions Diana

Then we cut to the next scene, which starts with Diana hanging out at Supreme’s fortress:

Cut to Diana

This is all very intentional on Moore’s part.  Knowing he was going to cut to DIana Dane next, he ended the scene with Diana Dane being mentioned. 

This next scene ends with Diana, exasperated over Supreme’s discussion of past misadventures, saying “No more Supervillains”:

No more supervillains

Then we ironically cut back to the parallel storyline with the supervillain:

Cut back to the supervillain

This transition technique is not just a matter of dialogue. Later, Supreme’s arch enemy- Darius Dax, is in the beginning of a sex scene with an evil version of Diana Dane from an alternative reality:

Supreme making out

We then cut to Supreme and regular Diana looking at a statute that evokes the lovemaking:

Supreme art

Of course you could say the statue is just there to provide a visual transition gimmick, and that’s probably true. But Moore also uses the statue to symbolically represent what’s going on in the story. Supreme says “The constant eruption of changing shapes is meant to represent art or creation itself.”

And in the the greater plot, we have an “eruption” of alternative reality versions of Darius Dax plotting to attack alternative versions of Supreme, a constant eruption of changing shapes of the superhuman/ supervillain concept.

There’s one final transition bit that’s I’d like to discuss, one of the few transitions that don’t involve a page turn. Moore uses voice over narration to connect two scenes. Diana is saying she found her perfect hero, while we see images of the evil Diana with her perfect hero:

Perfect hero scene in Supreme

A lot of comic writers don’t use these sorts of fancy transitions, in fact, if I had to guess, I’d say the majority do not, or some only seem to use them if they happen to think of a good one. 

I want to almost say that these fancy transitions are specific to Alan Moore’s writing style, but that would be taking it a little too far.  I know at least one movie writing craft book that advises writers to use them.  Still, this is a very particular and possibly optional part of the comic creator’s craft.