Welcome back to The Proving Grounds!
This week’s Brave One is no stranger here. We’ve got John Lees, and he’s brought us…
Hard As Fuck
PAGE ONE (5 panels)
Panel 1. Exterior night-time establishing shot of 10 Downing Street. You can make the image nice and tight on the iconic front door, which I’ve included a reference pic for: http://www.number10.gov.uk/tour/images/front_door.jpg. (Right here, right now, I’m in love with this script. Know why? Because John included a link for reference. That means that his artist is also going to love him. Want your artist to love you? Provide reference for them. They need it. They love it. They want more of it. Know what else they want more of? The time of day.)
CAP: LONDON, ENGLAND.
CAP: 10 DOWNING STREET.
Panel 2. Ground-level interior shot of one of the corridors now. A fluffy white cat is charging down the hallway towards us, a mean look on its face. In the foreground, also running towards us, is the rat the cat is chasing, looking frightened. (No, John. No. You know better. I know you know better. Left to right. You didn’t describe this from left to right. What else can we see in the corridor? How is it lit?)
CAT: SQUEAK! SQUEAK!
Panel 3. Another ground-level shot, this time from behind, of the cat chasing the rat, who is running through the opening of a door that is slightly ajar. The door is black, and from this low angle we can only see the bottom of the door. (I don’t know about anyone else, but if we’re at a low angle, the only thing we can really see is the cat’s ass.)
RAT: SQUEAK-SQUEAK! SQUEAKEDY-SQUEAK!
Panel 4. Long shot revealing the whole door. We can see that on the black door is a gold placard, with “PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE” written on it. (Yannick, please tell me why this isn’t working.)
RAT (O.P.): SQUEAAAAAAAIEEEEEEEEE!
Panel 5. Close-up of the cat peering through the crevice of the doorway, looking horrified.
CAT: HOLY SHIT! (Hm. Finally got something interesting going. Let’s see where it takes us.)
Now, as a page, this isn’t that interesting.
There are two mistakes, one of which I’m leaving for Yannick to hammer you on: your pacing is off. You have a cat chasing a rat full tilt, and the rat scurries through a door, and then the cat is peeking through? When does it stop, and why? Re-pace this in about six panels.
You did a good job of setting up a couple of minor mysteries, though: first, I want to know why the cat can talk, and second, I want to know what the cat is looking at. It would work better with the proper pacing.
PAGE TWO (6 panels)
Panel 1. Medium shot in profile of the Prime Minister. In case you don’t know, he looks something like this: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/00673/david-cameron-scotl_673648c.jpg. He is leaning back on a leather reclining chair, his desk behind him. In his hand he is holding the rat by the tail, dangling it over his open, grinning mouth. In his mouth are a network of razor sharp teeth, and a long, thin forked tongue which is coiling outwards. The pupils of his eyes are reptilian slits, looking hungrily at his next meal. In the background, we can see the cat in the doorway, looking on in horror. (Kyle, what’s wrong with this?)
PRIME MINISTER: MMM… MY DELECTABLE LITTLE FRIEND… I THOUGHT I SMELT A RAT. BUT WE ARE IN WESTMINSTER… (See the italics plus the underline? See folks, I taught him something!)
Panel 2. Close-up of the cat wincing. (Is this still through the crack in the door?)
Panel 3. Low angle shot from over the cat’s shoulder, looking up at the Prime Minister. He is now standing in the middle of his office, hands on his hips, looking upwards as he monologues to himself. (Still don’t know where the cat is.)
PRIME MINISTER: WHAT A DELIGHTFUL SNACK! IF ONLY I COULD WASH IT DOWN WITH THE TEARS OF ORPHANS.
PRIME MINISTER: A MOST WORTHY APPETISER FOR THE BANKERS. ALL THOSE BONUSES WILL BE FATTENING THEM UP FOR THE SLAUGHTER. NO MEAT IS TASTIER THAN THAT OF RICH, SUCCULENT… (Okay, folks, I want you to take a lesson from John. This is something that he struggles with. Dialogue pacing. If you want to make a better, stronger impact on your readers, then break up the dialogue. The last sentence should be in its own balloon, because there is a slight mental pause there. You want to exaggerate that pause more. Bring it to a more robust flavor. How do you do that? By putting impactful or trailing statements in their own balloon.)
Panel 4. Same low angle shot from over the cat’s shoulder, but now the Prime Minister is kneeling in front of the cat. Perhaps have lots of motion lines indicating the speed of the movement. His reptilian eyes are wide, his grin huge and monstrous. Rat juice still runs down his chops. (Magically delicious! Where did the rat juice come from? And that’s not the only problem with this panel. It is impossible to draw, because you haven’t really established where the cat is. Why am I harping on the cat? Jamie? Please tell me why. And while you’re at it, please tell me what’s missing from this panel description. Thanks.)
PRIME MINISTER: FATCAT!!!
PAGE TWO (continued)
Panel 5. Medium shot of the Prime Minister holding the cat by the throat, forked tongue licking his lips. The cat is clawing at his arm uselessly.
PRIME MINISTER: THE CHILDREN WILL BE SO UPSET WHEN I TELL THEM YOU’VE GONE TO CAT HEAVEN. THEY MIGHT EVEN CRY.
PRIME MINISTER: I SHALL WORK HARD TO CONCEAL MY ERECTION.
Panel 6. Close-up of the Prime Minister and the cat. The cat’s head is now right up to the Prime Minister’s open mouth. His mouth is stretched open, like an anaconda dislocating its jaw, ready to engulf the cat’s head whole. But he has stopped short of biting down. Both the Prime Minister and the cat look out at us, in the direction of an off-panel noise.
If you gave all the pertinent information, this would be a better page than the first. You’ve got the reader’s attention. Now, to keep it.
PAGE THREE (4 panels)
Panel 1. Long shot of a security guard in a black suit and shades flying through the black office door with enough force to shatter it, hurling as if he’s been thrown through it. What we can see of his face is twisted in pain. In the background, we can see the Prime Minister holding the cat, both open-mouthed with shock. (Almost. Has he been hurled through the door by someone unseen, or is he just moving very fast through the door, shattering it? Your description isn’t clear. )
Panel 2. Low-angle shot from behind the Prime Minister, looking at the unconscious guard now lying unconscious on the floor, and the lower body of the man now entering through the door. The man, wearing white tracksuit bottoms and trainers, has a hulking frame that barely fits through the doorframe. This is our hero, Big Boabby Bawbraker. (How far into the room did the guard go? That’s going to be important. I don’t think you can get the hero into the frame with this. I think you’re going to have to redo the panel description.)
BIG BOABBY: AWRITE, DOBBER?
BIG BOABBY: AH CAME AW THE WAY FAE GLASGOW TAE GEE YE A KICK IN THE BAWS.
Panel 3. Medium shot of the Prime Minister, throwing the cat away as he points forward at the off-panel Boabby, a furious expression on his face. (Le sigh. Which way is the cat being thrown? Where’s the camera? Can the unnamed Man In White Pants be seen? In this panel? If not, why not? If so, where is he? I know what it is. This is a deliberate attempt to make it look like I’m a horrible, horrible teacher. Got it.)
CAT: FUCK YOU, BOSSMAN!
PRIME MINISTER: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR TINY SCOTTISH MIND? I AM THE PRIME MINISTER OF HER MAJESTY’S GOVERNMENT! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, COMING INTO MY HOME AND…
Panel 4. Long shot from behind Big Boabby as he kicks the Prime Minister in the nuts. It is a mighty blow, powerful enough to lift the First Lord of the Treasury off his feet. His eyes are just about bulging out of his head, his expression looking exactly what you might think someone who has just been kicked in the nuts by a giant would look like. (I’m not going to hit you on the fact that Bobby isn’t described here. That should be in a separate document, and worked out with the artist beforehand. However, I AM going to hit you on the lack of the cat.)
PRIME MINISTER: URK!
PAGE FOUR (1 panel)
Panel 1. Splash page reveal of Big Boabby Bawbraker. He is dressed in his trademark white tracksuit and cap, and has his usual angry scowl. He is standing with his fists clenched, looking down at the Prime Minister, who is kneeling hunched forward in the foreground, crutching his battered groin. (You take the time to explain him now? Basically, a panel too late? No, John. On the other hand, I like the placement of the splash page. You’re not totally trying to kill me.)
BIG BOABBY: AH DON’T THINK AH AM, YA WEE DICK! AH KNOW AH AM.
BIG BOABBY: MA NAME’S BIG BOABBY BAWBRAKER. AND AH’M…
Title. HARD AS FUCK………….. PART 1: THE AULD ENEMY!
PAGE FIVE (5 panels)
Panel 1. Daytime establishing shot of Trongate, in Glasgow City Centre. I’ve included a few reference pics of the area: http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertpool/2891458429/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/keep_your_bunnet_oon/3924743093/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertpool/2891452253/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/28609870@N08/2897447709/. If you wanted to go even more in-depth, simply type “Trongate, Glasgow” into Google Maps and click on Street View, gives you a good feel of the layout of the area. The area is bustling with people, though at the distance of the establishing shot no individual stands out. I imagine the dialogue in this panel would take the shape of disembodied bubbles peppered around the frame, creating a sense of the voices coming from all over rather than one single source. (One of the few times I’m going to ask about the weather. This will affect how people are dressed.)
CAP: GLASGOW, SCOTLAND.
CAP: THE NEXT DAY.
VOICE 1: BIB BOABBY!
VOICE 2: AWRITE, BIG BOABBY?
VOICE 3: LOOK, IT’S THAT PURE MENTAL BOABBY!
VOICE 4: BOABBY BOY!
Panel 2. Long shot of Boabby standing in the street, the same stoic scowl on his face that he will carry through every panel on this page and most of his subsequent appearances. In this panel and all of the panels that follow on this page, the background will be peppered with various people, many of them looking or pointing at Boabby. He is facing a heavily pregnant woman pushing a large pram, who is smiling at him with a toothless grin. The pram has three babies lined up in a row, all of them with Boabby’s scowling face. (How old is the woman? What’s Bobby’s body language saying?)
BIG BOABBY: AWRITE, DOLL? HOW ARE THE WEANS?
DOLL: AYE, PURE SOUND, BIG BOABBY. THE OTHER FIVE ARE AT HOME.
PAGE FIVE (continued)
Panel 3. Long shot of Boabby walking down the street, from left-to-right across the panel. At the very periphery of the left of the frame we can see the woman from the previous panel walking off-panel from right-to-left, creating a sense of Boabby moving forward. He is surrounded by three people: a teenage boy tugging on his sleeve from behind, an old Indian man walking alongside him, and a surgeon in green scrubs and a white mask (as if he’s walked straight out of the operating theatre) standing in front of him, waving frantically. Boabby’s expression is unchanged, but he has his hands raised defensively, palms facing outward.
TEENAGER: BIG BOABBY, AH WANNA WINCH THIS BIRD, CAN YE PUT IN A GOOD WORD FUR ME?
OLD MAN: BIG BOABBY, THOSE WEE BASTARDS HAVE BEEN BACK IN MY SHOP, I NEED YOU TO SORT THEM OUT…
SURGEON: BIG BOABBY, I NEED YOUR HELP TO PERFORM AN APPENDECTOMY!
Panel 4. Long shot further down the street. The teenager, the old man and the surgeon all stand together at the left of the frame, looking on at Big Boabby as he keeps on walking. Boabby is looking over his shoulder at them as he walks away, pointing back at them. An old lady is walking towards him, holding up her poodle.
BIG BOABBY: NO THE NOO! TAM, HAROON, MEET ME AT THE PUB LATER AND WE’LL TALK.
BIG BOABBY: DOC, JUST WATCH MA INSTRUCTIONAL DVD. YE’LL MANAGE FINE. (P5. You get funny and hilarious on P5. You might have wanted to start this tale on P4. I think you’ll catch more readers that way. Absurdism is good when done right, but you have to do it early in comics.)
OLD LADY: BLESS MY POODLE, BIG BOABBY!
Panel 5. One more long shot. Towards the left of the frame, the old lady stands, still holding her poodle. Big Boabby is walking past a married couple – middle class, judging by the way they’re dressed – with two young children. The wife is smiling thinly at Boabby, while the husband is looking in the other direction. The two children – one boy, one girl – have, much like the babies earlier, scowling faces that look exactly like Boabby’s.
(I had no intention of going further than this. I might read more. Because even though it’s absurd, I’m finally beginning to enjoy it. The last time you did this to me, The Standard entered production…)
However, here’s where I’m going to end this. Let’s run it down.
Format: Perfect. If you had any formatting issues, I’d call it a deliberate attempt at making me look bad.
Panel descriptions: Unlike most of your other work, this needs help. I’m not getting the sense that this was as well thought out as the scripts you usually send me. You’re not clear in the panel descriptions as to what is being seen, and you’re not placing characters correctly. This needs work, and you’re better than this. Shame on you.
Pacing: Off a bit here and there, but slow overall. You could have cut right to P4 and done without the preliminaries. I think it would have gotten people’s interest. If you had grabbed them by P1 instead of P5, you’d have a sure sale instead of a maybe. (As an aside, who else is interested in reading more of this? When did you become really interested?)
Dialogue: Funny, when you finally got to it. Nothing I’d change or correct. (Well, maybe I’d make Bobby a tad easier to understand, but the thick accent helps to sell the absurd.)
Content: As an editor, I’d chop this at P4 and make you start the story there. That’s the point where things get interesting. As a reader, I’m not interested until P5. (It isn’t often that the editor and reader coincide.) Show me what’s different. Tell me the reason why I should pick this up off the shelf. You don’t begin to do that until P5, and P4 is the setup to that. Start it there.
And that’s all.
Well, one more piece of business.
I’m running out of scripts, folks.
There must be more Brave Ones out there who’s just wanting to have their scripts looked at. Let’s see ‘em! I don’t bite.
Thanks. Check the calendar to see who’s next.
See you in seven.
Category: The Proving Grounds