Milton Lawson is one of the Comics Experience alumni and Creators Workshop members earning accolades in the Ghost City Comics Competition. His autobiographical short with artist Rem Broo, “Roger Ebert and Me,” examines the deep relationship between grief and joy. Milton finds himself unable to indulge his cinephilia following a run of bad luck. The spirit of the legendary film critic seeks to guide him back to the love and enthusiasm he once held for movies.
“This story is about processing losses. The narrative was shaped by contrasting a number of those experiences. Juxtaposing losses that seem like your whole world the day it happens but then a year later doesn’t seem so important can be revealing,” says Milton.
“Also, the narrative called for a restoration – much like the motivation behind nostalgia, to bring something back. We managed to tell a story about something that might not be able to be restored per se, but transformed and still with you in some way.”
His training with Comics Experience and the Creators Workshop community allowed him to shape the 10-page narrative into an award winner.
Milton says, “There were layers of discovery in the evolution of this project. The first draft of the story wasn’t as focused on the heavier subjects and the grief. It’s what I was feeling, but it wasn’t coming through in the initial writing. Workshopping the script challenged me to go deeper and confront the story I really wanted to tell.”
Comics provided Milton with a perfect medium to weave his story, given its close relationship to film.
“Like many comic writers who also love film, I’m a big fan of Robert McKee’s book on screenwriting, Story, and somewhere in that book there’s an elegant passage about the intensity of emotion that cinema can ignite in the audience,” he says.
“I’m probably butchering the idea, but his argument goes something like this – when we experience intense moments in real life, we are unable to process them in realtime. But later, upon reflection, when re-experienced through a moviemaker’s rendering on a big screen, those feelings can find a fuller expression.”
And Rem Broo was just the artist to breathe life into Milton’s vivid, emotional script.
He says, “Perhaps my favorite thing about working with Rem is the confidence that I can stretch my imagination as far as it can go – and Rem will not only be able to render that idea, but make it better.”
He mentions that the famous movie cars included in the script started off as captions. It was Rem’s idea to actually show them.
“when Rem sent me the first thumbnails – I was blown away with his approach. There weren’t any notes, any revisions, it just grew organically into existence via his magic.”
You can read the acclaimed “Roger Ebert and Me” here.
Shortly after achieving finalist honors, Milton and his brother were displaced from their home in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. We ask that, if you are able, you please contribute to the GoFundMe helping them rebuild.