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TPG Week 24: Dialogue Needs Pacing, Too!

| June 10, 2011 | 5 Comments

Welcome back once again! Thanks for coming in! This week, Brave One John Lees returns to us, bringing an adventure of B.A. Dass. Let’s see how he does!

PAGE ONE (4 panels)

Panel 1.  Daytime exterior establishing shot of a villain’s fortress lair.  It is located within a mountain range, the structure actually built into the surface of the central mountain.  The structure of the base has been carved into the shape of a face.  The Mt. Rushmore style carving is in the likeness of Dr. Leopold Rockface, with a square jaw, broad nose, wide brow, and bald head.

CAP/ ROCKFACE: “BY THIS TIME TOMORROW, THE WORLD WILL BE OVERRUN BY BRAINWASHED NEO-NAZI TWITTER GOBLINS!”

Panel 2.  Match cut to a close-up of the real Dr. Rockface.  He looks exactly like the fortress made in his likeness, right down to the craggy lines running down his face.  He is angrily shouting into a microphone.  For the setting of this panel, we’ve cut to an interior shot inside the fortress.  He is in the lair’s central chamber.  We won’t get much sense of the location until later, but it is a huge, circular room with hard steel walls and floors.

ROCKFACE: WHEN THIS STATION BROADCASTS MY MIND-ALTERING RADIO SIGNAL ONTO THE INTERNET, IT WILL GO VIRAL, BECOME UNSTOPPABLE!

ROCKFACE: THEN I, DR. LEOPOLD ROCKFACE, WILL BECOME RULER OF ALL! (Hm. The dialogue doesn’t match the description. I’m getting the fact that he’s yelling, but I’m not seeing “anger” in his dialogue. The dialogue is fine (if silly, which I take it it is supposed to be), just change the panel description to match.)

Panel 3.  Medium shot of a group of mean-looking armed guards with assault rifles running down a stone-walled hallway, dimly lit by overhead ceiling light panels.  There is a loudspeaker situated near the ceiling of the wall on the left of the frame, from which Dr. Rockface’s commands are being broadcast. (Hm. Not visualizing the guards well. Are they wearing some sort of uniform? How large is the group? What are they armed with? Where is the camera? Are they running toward us, away from us, or across the panel? Lots of questions.)

ROCKFACE (ELEC): A SPY HAS SOMEHOW FOUND A WAY INTO MY SUPER-SECRET LAIR… BUT HE WILL NOT FIND A WAY OUT! (Non sequitur. This has absolutely nothing to do with the two previous panels. If you’re going to make the jump, at least take us with you, John.)

Panel 4.  Ground-level shot in profile of feet running down a hallway similar in style to the one in the previous panel.   These feet belong to our hero, B.A. Dass.  He is only 4 feet tall, so the feet are going to be small, and close together even when in stride.

ROCKFACE (ELEC, O.P.): HUNT HIM DOWN!  CATCH HIM!

Interesting first page. The dialogue in the first two panels needs to be redone in order to fit more with the dialogue in the third panel.

PAGE TWO (5 panels)

Panel 1.  Medium shot reveal of B.A. Dass running down the hallway.  He is staring straight ahead, a stoic expression on his face.  He is dressed in black stealth gear, and is wearing a large backpack that is almost as big as he is.  There is another loudspeaker at the top of the left wall in the background. (Getting a size comparison in comics is going to be tough, the reason being that it is extremely easy to play with perspective. If you want to show how small he is, the backpack won’t be enough, especially for a medium shot. You’re going to have to show him next to something that would be of “regular” size in order to really show the comparison.)

ROCKFACE (ELEC): KILL THAT LITTLE BASTARD! (Yannick, why doesn’t this line work here?)

Panel 2.  Over-the-shoulder shot from behind an armed guard, looking down at B.A. as he runs around the corner towards us.  B.A. is looking over his shoulder rather than ahead as he turns the corner, so hasn’t spotted the guard.

B.A. DASS: HUFF… HUFF… HUFF…

Panel 3.  Low-angle shot from behind B.A., looking up at the armed guard.  We can’t see B.A.’s expression, as his back is to us, but we can see by his body language that he is recoiling back in surprise.  The guard is pointing his rifle at B.A., an angry snarl on his face. (If it is a low shot from behind BA, how are we supposed to see anything but his ass?)

GUARD: HANDS IN THE AIR!

Panel 4.  Medium shot of B.A. holding his hands in the air.  He looks calm for someone in his current situation, a casual half-smile on his face.

B.A. DASS: LOOK, BUDDY, I’M KINDA IN A HURRY.  YOU SEEM LIKE A REASONABLE MAN.  YOU’RE PROBABLY ONLY DOING THIS JOB TO PUT THE KIDS THROUGH COLLEGE, AM I RIGHT?

B.A. DASS: SO HOW ABOUT YOU JUST LET ME GO, THEN GET OUTTA HERE BEFORE THINGS GO BOOM?

Panel 5.  Same low-angle shot from behind B.A. as panel 3.  B.A. now has his hands raised, while the guard has the same snarling expression, his gun still pointed at B.A. Dass. (That angle didn’t work last time, and it won’t work this time. Kyle, what do you think would be a better angle for this panel?)

B.A. DASS: HUH.  I GUESS NOT.

PAGE THREE (8 panels)

Panel 1.  Same shot as the last panel on the previous page, but now B.A. is bending forward, and has thrown the large backpack he was wearing into the guard’s face.  The guard is still holding the rifle, but as he reels from the blow, it is now pointing upwards. (Nope. Pull this around 90 degrees, so both characters are in profile. Or even 30 degrees. But not from the same angle as the previous panel.)

B.A. DASS: HNN!

GUARD: HEY…

Panel 2.  Long shot of B.A. Dass hitting a kung-fu palm strike on the guard’s nuts (Nope. I can see you’ve never taken martial arts. This is an absolutely GREAT way to break the wrist. You can do a snake-fist type of strike, but not a palm strike. You can even kick him in the nads. This is flash, and will end up with a broken wrist.).  B.A. has a crazy Bruce Lee face as he hits this grievous blow, and the guard is already buckling at the knees, his gun now hanging limply from his hand.  The backpack lies discarded on the floor in the background.

B.A. DASS: HIIYAAAAH!

SFX: FAPP!

GUARD: UH!

Panel 3.  Tight medium shot of B.A. grabbing the rifle from the guard’s hand.

Panel 4.  Tight medium shot of B.A. swinging the rifle round, and hitting the guard behind the knees with the butt of the gun.  The guard is already starting to fall forward. (I like these two panels.)

SFX: THWACK!

GUARD: NNG!

Panel 5.  Medium shot in profile of B.A. Dass facing the guard.  B.A. Dass is staring intently at the guard, dropping the rifle on the ground next to him.  The guard is on his knees, bringing him to eye level with B.A. Dass.  He has a pained expression on his face.

Panel 6.  Medium shot from behind the guard, as B.A. snaps his neck.  B.A. has a hand on each side of his head, and has twisted it sharply to the side, almost turning the guard’s head backwards.  Even from behind, we can see his wide, shocked eyes staring outwards to the side.

SFX: KRAKK!

(more)

PAGE THREE (continued)

Panel 7.  Ground-level shot of the guard falling forward onto the floor, dead.  His head is still twisted to the side, and his wide eyes stare out at us.

SFX: THUD.

Panel 8.  Low-angle shot of B.A. as he stands over the dead body.  He is pulling the backpack back onto his shoulders, looking down at the dead guard with a smirk.

B.A. DASS: I HOPE YOU GOT A HELL OF A LIFE INSURANCE POLICY WITH THIS EVIL HENCHMAN GIG, PAL.

Except for the first two panels, I would call this page a total success. I liked it a lot.

PAGE FOUR (7 panels)

Panel 1.  Establishing shot of the base’s central chamber.  As mentioned before, this is a large, circular room with steel surfaces all around.  In the foreground, with his back to us, is B.A. Dass, entering the room.  Standing at the far end of the room is Dr. Rockface, smiling wickedly, holding a remote in his hand.  He is standing near a big pit in the middle of the floor.  From this angle, we can’t see what lies at the bottom of it.  In the background we can see a massive central computer system. (How big is the remote? Is it a modern remote that’s pretty slim and sleek, or is it a big, clunky type of remote, with an antenna/wire coming out of it? I’m getting the clunky vibe here, but I don’t know what you’re seeing.)

B.A. DASS: A WORD OF ADVICE, DR. ROCKFACE.  IF YOU WANT TO AVOID PEOPLE FINDING A WAY INTO YOUR SUPER-SECRET LAIR…

B.A. DASS: DON’T BUILD IT IN THE SHAPE OF YOUR HEAD.

ROCKFACE: CRACK WISE ALL YOU WANT, LITTLE SPY.  YOU WILL NOT BE LAUGHING FOR MUCH LONGER. (Kinda awkward here. I suggest a contraction.)

Panel 2.  Medium shot of the grinning Dr. Rockface as he presses a button on the remote in his hands. (Is he holding it with one hand and pressing a button with the second, or is he using the thumb of the hand holding the remote?)

ROCKFACE: ARE YOU NOT CURIOUS TO DISCOVER HOW I LEARNED OF YOUR INTRUSION?

ROCKFACE: I KNOW THAT THERE IS A TRAITOR IN MY MIDST THAT HELPED SMUGGLE YOU IN.  YOU HAVE BEEN CAVORTING WITH MY BUXOM SECRETARY!

SFX (button): BEEP!

Panel 3.  High-angle shot looking down at Mandy the secretary as she is lowered down from the ceiling.  She is dangling upside down from a chain tied around her legs.  Her hands are tied together in front of her, and she is screaming in terror.  From this high angle, we can see down into the pit (which Mandy is dangling perilously above).  At the bottom is a pool, in which is nestled a giant crocodile.  Dr. Rockface is standing next to the pit, looking up at Wanda with a cruel smile. (Umm… Who’s Mandy?)

WANDA: AAAAIE!  HELP ME!

ROCKFACE: AND NOW, DEAREST WANDA, YOUR FRIEND HERE WILL BE FORCED TO WATCH AS MY PET CROCODILE GORGES ON YOUR JUICY RUMP!

(more)

PAGE FOUR (continued)

Panel 4.  Long shot in profile of B.A. Dass facing Dr. Rockface, each standing on opposite ends of the pit, and Wanda dangling upside-down between them.  B.A. Dass is standing with his hands on his hips, apparently unfazed by the situation.  Dr. Rockface glares back at him, holding the remote trigger out in front of him.

B.A. DASS: OKAY, SO THIS IS THE PART IN THE MOVIE WHERE I’M GIVEN THE CHOICE BETWEEN STOPPING THE BAD GUY AND SAVING THE GIRL, AND I MANAGE TO DO BOTH, BECAUSE I’M THE MAN?

ROCKFACE: AND THIS IS THE PART IN THE MOVIE WHERE I GIVE A LONG MONOLOGUE, GIVING YOU TIME TO COME UP WITH A PLAN?

Panel 5.  Close-up of Dr. Rockface’s hand pressing another button on the remote.

SFX:   BEEP!

Panel 6.  Medium shot of a screaming Wanda plummeting into the crocodile pit, the chain suspending her having been released by the trigger.  She is screaming as she falls.  In the background, we can see a determined B.A. Dass running towards the edge of the pit.

ROCKFACE (O.P.): THIS IS NOT A MOVIE.  IT’S A COMIC BOOK! (Okay, here’s where the learnin’ starts. I want everyone to weigh in on how they would write this line. The trick? You cannot change any of the words. [This is where Ruiz would call me being evil.])

WANDA: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAIEEEEEE!

Panel 7.  A low-angle shot, possibly looking up from within the pit, as B.A. Dass dives in, his demeanour calm and fearless.

B.A. DASS: MAK-CHAK DEDANG KO LOYTU NIN PIK!!!

PAGE FIVE (5 panels)

Panel 1.  Medium shot of Dr. Rockface laughing maniacally as he walks across the chamber, his back turned to the pit.  He is throwing the remote over his shoulder.

ROCKFACE: MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

ROCKFACE: WHAT AN IDIOT!  DIVING TO HIS DEATH TO SAVE SOME FEEBLE-MINDED HUSSY!  AND HIS LAST WORDS ON THIS EARTH ARE MEANINGLESS GIBBERISH!

ROCKFACE: MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Panel 2.  Low-angle long shot of Dr. Rockface from behind, as he looks over his shoulder, a surprised look on his face.

B.A. DASS (O.P.): NOT QUITE, DR. COCKFACE! (This just went from family friendly and all-ages to adult, with one letter. I’m not saying that this needs to be changed, just want you to recognize it.)

ROCKFACE: EH!?

B.A. DASS (O.P.): SORRY.  IMMATURE, I KNOW.  BUT REALLY, WHO COULD RESIST? (Push this into the next panel. It doesn’t work here.)

Panel 3.  Rockface POV shot of the pit.  We can’t see into the bottom of the pit from this angle, just the black hole.

B.A. DASS (O.P.): BACK WHEN I SPENT SIX MONTHS IN THE AMAZON LIVING WITH THE CROCODILE-PEOPLE OF XENOS-LADINGA, THEY TAUGHT ME THE FORGOTTEN CROC TONGUE. (I’ve been doing a lot of watching of retro cartoons lately. I’m getting a Phantom vibe here. [Yes, I know he didn’t have his own cartoon, but I watched Defenders of the Earth, and did some research on him.])

Panel 4.  Same Rockface POV shot of the pit, but now the crocodile has started to climb out.  His paws are clutching onto the pit’s edge, and his head and neck have emerged from the blackness below.

B.A. DASS (O.P.): I JUST USED IT TO CONVERSE WITH YOUR “PET” HERE.  WANNA KNOW WHAT I SAID TO HIM?

(more)

PAGE FIVE (continued)

Panel 5.  Same Rockface POV shot of the pit, but now the crocodile has fully emerged from the hole, and we can now see that B.A. and Wanda are riding on his back.  Wanda clutches fearfully onto B.A.’s shoulders, seemingly hiding behind him despite being much taller than he is.  B.A. is smiling triumphantly, pointing at the off-panel Rockface, and at us.

B.A. DASS: “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE AND EAT THAT BALDY JERK!”

PAGE SIX (4 panels)

Panel 1.  Low-angle shot from behind Dr. Rockface.  He has fallen onto his backside, and is attempting to scramble backwards on his hands and ass as the giant crocodile looms threateningly over him, eyeing him hungrily.  B.A. Dass is flashing a cheesy grin while sat on the crocodile, while Wanda looks on with her hand covering her mouth.

B.A. DASS: YOU WANTED TO TURN ALL OUR BRAINS INTO JELLY…
ROCKFACE: N-N-NO!

Panel 2.  Medium shot of a screaming Dr. Rockface, with the crocodile’s wide-open mouth about to snap shut around his head.

B.A. DASS (O.P.): BUT NOW YOU’LL END UP IN A CROCODILE’S BELLY!

ROCKFACE: EEEAAAAAAAAAAH!

Panel 3.  A splatter of blood, with the actual violent death occurring off-panel. (Someone, please tell me why this is glaring out at me.)

SFX: CHOMP!

Panel 4.  Close-up in profile of a grinning B.A. Dass.

B.A. DASS: YEEEAH!

PAGE SEVEN (6 panels)

Panel 1.  Long shot of B.A. Dass, Wanda and the crocodile.  B.A. is in the foreground, standing next to the central computer.  He is opening his backpack, and looking down at the contents inside with deep concentration.  Wanda remains sat on the crocodile’s back, looking down at B.A. with interest.

B.A. DASS: OKAY, HONEY, I JUST NEED TO PLANT THIS B.A.B. DEVICE ON THE CENTRAL COMPUTER SYSTEM ROCKFACE WAS GONNA USE TO BROADCAST HIS RADIO SIGNAL, THEN WE CAN SKEDADDLE.

WANDA: WHAT’S A B.A.B. DEVICE?

Panel 2.  B.A. POV shot, looking down at the large explosive device he holds in his hands.  Written on the surface is BIG ASS BOMB.

B.A. DASS: IT’S ALL A BIT TECHNICAL, SO I WON’T BORE YOU WITH THE DETAILS…

Panel 3.  Long shot of B.A. and Wanda riding the crocodile down one of the stone-walled hallways seen on page 1.

WANDA: THE AIR HANGAR IS DOWN THIS WAY!

Panel 4.  Establishing shot of the hangar.  Our heroic trio are gathered around a small two-seater fighter jet.  B.A. Dass is standing on the plane’s wing, shooting three approaching guards with an assault rifle.  Wanda is buckling herself into the back seat.  Somehow, the crocodile has squeezed his giant body into the front seat, and is staring with confusion at the plane’s controls.  Because of the giant crocodile in the front seat, the overhead door hatch remains upright and open at the rear of the plane.

SFX (gun): RATATATATATATA…

B.A. DASS: MOCTUK RODO KALLEMLUI DRO AUTOPILOT!

Panel 5.  Exterior long shot of the plane flying out of the base (from the eye of Rockface’s head), with B.A. Dass, Wanda and the crocodile all onboard. (He was last seen on the wing. Where is he now?)

B.A. DASS: AND WE’RE OUTTA HERE!

(more)

PAGE SEVEN (continued)

Panel 6.  Medium shot of Wanda and B.A. Dass in the backseat together, B.A. sitting in Wanda’s lap.  Their arms are around each other, their lips inches away from touching in a kiss.  Wanda gazes lustfully down at B.A., while he smiles back up at her.

WANDA: OH, BABY… YOU’RE BADASS.

B.A. DASS: NOT QUITE, SUGAR-TITS…

PAGE EIGHT (1 panel)

Panel 1.  Full-page splash of the plane flying through the sky as the mountainside base blows up in a massive explosion in the background.  B.A. has now stood up in the backseat, hands on his hips and looking upward as he strikes a heroic pose.  Wanda remains seated, looking up at him with desire.  The crocodile looks straight ahead, focusing on piloting the plane.

SFX: BOOM!

B.A. DASS: I’M B.A. DASS.

Title.  B.A. DASS: AGENT OF A.W.E.S.O.M.E…………… PART 1: VACATION

WRITER: JOHN LEES

ARTIST: JIM LEES

INKER: STAN LEES

COLORIST: BRUCE LEES

LETTERER: LEES MARVIN

EDITOR: STEVEN FORBES

Okay, let’s run this down.

Format: Flawless Victory.

Panel Descriptions: They’re generally good. Just a few flaws in the beginning, and one where you showed that an editor would be helpful–especially if they’re a martial artist. Just watch your angles. Some of those won’t really get you what you’re going for.

Pacing: Except for moving a line of dialogue here and there, the pacing is fine. Except for that gaffe near the beginning. That has to be fixed.

Dialogue: Fun! I enjoyed it (but not as much as I enjoyed your last piece). Just a correction here and there to smooth things over and give it a better pace, but other than that, I didn’t have any problems with the dialogue.

Remember, everyone: Dialogue needs pacing, too! How and where you place your dialogue has an immediate impact on the reading experience. It doesn’t take much to throw a reader out of a story, and weirdly placed dialogue can do that in a heartbeat. Learn the trick of pacing, and you would have come a long way.

Content: This was enjoyable. It had a James Bond/Austin Powers kind of vibe to it. I enjoyed that. Then, you made it adult, and that kind of took some of the enjoyment out of it for me. Like I said, there was nothing wrong with it, it was just unexpected.

I liked that they were self-aware. I got that immediately. It was part of the enjoyment for me. I just think you could have played with that a bit more. Make it more Last Action Hero.

Editorially, this is decently easy. I would get you to get the characters to be more self-aware of their situation, though. Push that within the form. This would be a decent vehicle to experiment with it. Get in a few “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way” moments. I think you would have something with that.

That’s all I have for this week. Check the calendar to see who’s next!

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Category: The Proving Grounds

About the Author ()

Steven is an editor/writer with such credits as Fallen Justice, the award nominated The Standard, and Bullet Time under his belt, as well as work published by DC Comics. Between he and his wife, there are 10 kids (!), so there is a lot of creativity all around him. Steven is also the editor in chief and co-creator of ComixTribe, whose mission statement is Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics. If you're looking for editing, contact him at stevedforbes@gmail.com for rate inquiries.

Comments (5)

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  1. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE. IT’S A COMIC BOOK!
    IT’S NOT A MOVIE. THIS IS A COMIC BOOK!
    Movie and comic book are in the right order for the gag. However, contractions are more casual and have less punch than formal speech, and the punch line of the gag should have the stronger phrasing. The line “IT’S NOT A MOVIE” didn’t necessarily lead into a joke. It could just lead to a rebuttal than doesn’t break the reader’s suspension of disbelief. “THIS COMIC” by itself breaks the fourth wall and startles the reader, which is the entire basis of the gag.

    • Patrick! Thanks for joining us!

      Now, I asked for that line to be rewritten without changing any of the words, not for why it does or doesn’t do the job. This is a lesson in pacing.

      Let’s try it again.

  2. “ROCKFACE (O.P.): THIS IS NOT A MOVIE. IT’S A COMIC BOOK! (Okay, here’s where the learnin’ starts. I want everyone to weigh in on how they would write this line. The trick? You cannot change any of the words. [This is where Ruiz would call me being evil.])”

    Taking a cue from King Leonidas here…

    ROCKFACE (OP): This is not a movie!

    ROCKFACE (OP): It’s

    ROCKFACE (OP): a

    ROCKFACE (OP): COMIC BOOK!

    • Nice, Yannick. I like it.

      See how the pace changed without changing the words?

      • Just googled “pacing dialogue balloons,” which immediatley picked up the definition you were using. Sorry about that.

        I was working from “pacing word choice joke,” which is what I assumed you were fishing for. “Can’t change any of the words” is not an instruction that eliminates the option of changing the word order, any more than “One of them is not nickle” prevents the second coin from being a nickle. Still, I should have realized that timing is more commonly used than pacing in that context and dug a little deeper.

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