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TPG Week 35: Know Your Medium

| August 26, 2011 | 18 Comments

Hello, once again! This week we have a two-fer! Luke Noonan and Adam Burbey are new Brave Ones who have tag teamed a script! Together, they bring us something untitled. Let’s begin!

Page 1

Layout of 4 panels: two, then one page-wide, then another one page-wide. This is how I visualize it in my less than 100x clear head but as ever, if you see a better way of portraying it then please say the word (Right off the bat, we have notes! Alright. This is not “wrong.” What is being done here is that the writers are giving direction to the artist, telling the artist how they see the page layout in their heads. Personally, I’m against laying out a page for the artist unless you [the writer] are an artist yourself, or unless there is a very specific purpose. Again, this is not wrong, but I hope that, with the layout, you’ve also taken into account the actions that are supposed to happen in each panel. The greatest thing here? They’ve left themselves an out! If the artist has a better way, they can do that! Outstanding!)

Panel 1: Shot of a wild west steam train winding through the desert at night. Ref: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Uploco.jpg There are small round cactuses in view by the bright moonlight, and there’s very little light visible in the train windows as they use candles inside. (Reference embedded in the script! I love it! So will the artist. What won’t the artist love? Lack of a camera angle, and lack of direction. Well, that’s not really true. The train is going from left to right. Why do I say that, Kyle?)

Panel 2: Distant shot of the tracks and the steam train approaching from about half a mile away. From our POV there is a bandit on either side of the panel, we can see their shoulders and arms and hats as we look through them towards the approaching train.

1ST BANDIT:

Pay dirt, Mister Mackay…!

2ND BANDIT:

You ain’t kiddin’…

Panel 3: Long tracking shot of a solitary rider much like in a western film – we see a wide expanse of desert, and then suddenly there he is in the far right of the panel (OH MY LORD AND LADY! Will SOMEONE, ANYONE tell me why I just lost my entire mind.). He’s standing on a hilltop. A cigar glows in his mouth, with some glowing embers tumbling like burning dust, and though we can’t see very clearly in the dim moonlight of this panel, this is our first glimpse of him before a big depiction a few pages on: he is wearing a duster of crocodile hide, and a hat of the same material, glossy but as tough-looking as it was on the animal itself; other than this he wears conventional cowboy attire, his hair is shoulder length, slightly tangled and scraggly, and he has a short beard. Most of his face is hidden in the shadow of his hat. Jacob Draught… (And then, John, what’s wrong with the rest of this?)

Panel 4: Close up the riders face. He is in the act of slowly taking the cigar from his mouth, the smoke is coiling from his mouth and nostrils, and there’s a glint of intense yellow-gold in his eyes, but it’s very subtle now – in full light his eyes are colour of tarnished Fools’ gold, or stale urine, and look like those of an animal. He is tall, lean, and looks a lot like Vince Gallo (Google an Image search) and his expression is of sighing or exhaling, relaxed. This is the calm before a storm… (This is prose writing, and has no place in a script. You can’t show “slow” in a static image. There is visual language for “fast,” but not for “slow.”)

RIDER:

-siiigh-

Page 2: layout of 4 panels: one page-wide, followed by two square, then another page-wide. (Page break.)

Panel 1: Inside a passenger car on the train, lit by candles on the tables. There is a young couple of doting sweethearts on the left about half way back, a family of middle-aged parents with two sons around 12 years of age furthest back on the left, and the father is reading to the two children. There’s also a younger family with a daughter of around six years old on the right somewhere between the other two families, and a single man, a distinguished gentleman with bowler hat, spectacles and trim beard sleeping in a seat alone nearest to our POV on the right, his hat on the table before him.

Middle-aged father

[small hushed lettering]

And I will tell you of my brother, he said. (If someone is quoting someone else, then quotation marks need to go around the words, just like in prose. The rules don’t change all that much. You just have to learn to adapt them to the different medium. I put the quotations around the words so you can see what I’m talking about.)

Middle-aged father

[hushed lettering]

He too is called Ol’ Eye-closer, but he only visits you once in your life… (I’m lost, and that is never a good place to be. Is this part of the story? If so, it needs quotation marks.)

Middle-aged father

[hushed lettering]

He will carry you away on his horse, and tell you one of his tales… (Still lost.)

Panel 2: view of the train driver leaning out of his cab, squinting ahead in confusion.

Middle-aged father

[off-panel, caption, same lettering]

One of the tales is so wondrous, you couldn’t even imagine it, except in your dreams… (No. This means that the conductor can hear him, and if he’s sticking his face out to the side to see something, he’s not hearing much above the engine and the wind. Put this in a caption. And because it has to go in a caption, what needs to happen, Rich?)

Panel 3: close up view of two of the bandits from earlier, stood either side of a man dressed as they are, minus his hat, who is lying on the tracks, drunk or unconscious. They are lit by a kerosene lamp on the track in front of the man. (What? Okay, let me try to understand what you just said. This is a close-up of two men (?), and they are standing at either end of a man who’s lying on the tracks between them. That sound about right, because it definitely wasn’t clear. Now, where’s the rest of the important info? Whether he is drunk or unconscious is just you being verbose, which has no place here. What’s important is how he’s lying on the tracks: parallel, or perpendicular?)

Middle-aged father

[as previous panel]

And the other: so ugly, so terrifying, you could only see it in your darkest nightmares… (This is a caption, also.)

Young girl

[off-panel] (This is a caption, same as above.)

Pa?

Panel 4: view from the POV of the window on the right of the carriage and looking in, so we see the infant daughter talking to her parents in the immediate foreground (generally speaking, infants don’t talk. So, what’s going on here? And unless it is sentient, a window cannot have a point of view. Are we back inside the car, or are we outside looking in? One way is right, one way is wrong. Which way do you think is the correct way, Lance, and why?) , and the middle-aged father reading to his sons in the background beyond.

Middle-aged father

[same lettering as prev]

Why, here is my brother now, said Ol’ Eye-closer, and he lifted the boy to the window to look…(If he’s telling a story, then there needs to be quotations around certain things, like people speaking. At least there’s no comma-fail here.)

Middle-aged father

[same]

He is called Death. (Is this part of the story? Is someone in the story saying this? I’m lost. Lost is never good. If I’m lost, then your audience is going to be lost. Losing your audience means they put the book back on the shelf.)

Young girl

Why are we stopping?

SFX

[foreground, bottom corner of the panel]

BLAM

It’s P2, and I’m still waiting for something interesting to happen. Hopefully, that will be on the next page.

Page 3 (Page break)

Panel 1: we see the whole train carriage with its occupants cowering in terror or sat frozen. The middle-aged father is stony faced, the young woman of the doting couple is also glaring. We can also see the bandit ringleader from behind in silhouette, an imposing figure at the head of the aisle, commanding attention. He is a stocky man, clean shaven, clearly not the lone rider from page 1, panel 4. (So, in order to see the ringleader from behind, the camera is going to be behind him. Say that. And what is the ringleader doing? Is he holding a gun, or just standing there, looking menacing?)

Ringleader

Everyone settle the fuck down, we’re gonna do this nice and easy.

Ringleader

Your money, your jewelry an’ your fancy tobacco, in that order…

Panel 2: There are four of them: 3 bandits and the ringleader. In this panel we see from the other end of the carriage, the ringleader sat down on a vacant table and lighting his cigar with a Lucifer match while two of them set about with sacks, relieving the passengers of their wealth, starting at the opposite end of the car to him with the young couple. The young woman of the couple is glaring defiantly, which they find highly amusing. The third bandit stands guard behind the ringleader and takes a swig from a hip flask. (Okay, here’s your problem: there’s a lot of stuff going on here in a VERY enclosed space. You’re not going to be able to see all of this in the panel. Why did you write it like this? Because you haven’t yet decided on which medium you’re writing for: prose, or film. Notice that “comics” is not one of the choices.)

2nd Bandit

This one’s pretty, Jake, real pretty (Punctuation.)

1st Bandit

Got a pretty lil neck, she has (Punctuation.)

2nd Bandit

You wanna pretty silver necklace, lady, right now? (Why is last part of “right now” here? It seems extremely off.)

Panel 3: view from the other end of the carriage now, same as in panel 1 of this page, and in the foreground the ringleader looks up curiously, the 3rd bandit stood by him staring at the roof of the car. In the background we see the husband of the young woman has risen in a fury to defend her honour and the closest bandit to him is in the act of punching him in the stomach. (I still think you’re reaching for too much, but this is a better panel than the last.)

SFX:

[top of the panel]

THUMPF

3RD Bandit

Fuck was that? (I have no problem with language. Just remember that it limits your audience.)

Panel 4: closer view of the two bandits doing the taking of goods – the 2nd bandit is leaning over the young woman, who is comforting her winded husband in distress, and both of them are looking up at the ceiling. The 1st bandit is grinning. (What does the facial expression of the 2nd bandit say?)

1st Bandit

We gotta runner already, hah!

2nd Bandit

On the roof…?

Ringleader

[off-panel]

Shuddup!

Panel 5: view of the ringleader glaring upwards, baring his gun.

Ringleader

We got ourselves a hee-ro… Or just a fool, either way, ‘bout time one of these rich bastards showed a lil backbone. (You want to change one of those commas to a period. I highly suggest the first one.)

Ringleader

Toby, get up there.

Ringleader

(to the other two bandits)

You two, get on with it. (No. Have him call them by name. Actually, this line needs to be completely rewritten in order to get their names in, as well as telling them what to do. Otherwise, you’re writing film/prose.)

Page 4 (Page break.)

Panel 1: Toby is heading up the ladder on the end of the car to go up to the roof, and has just stopped to take another swig of the hip flask – now in the action of wiping his mouth with his sleeve while gripping the flask. He is just a few steps away from the top of the ladder. (Okay. I have to go back first. One sec. I don’t think it’s there, but let’s just check. Okay. Just checked. Yep. The ladder is magically delicious. Very much so. And then you have a large gap in Border Time, because you have Kunta already on the ladder. Not only is he already ON the ladder, but he has already STOPPED on the ladder. Not only is he already stopped, but he’s already wiping his mouth after having taken another drink. Like I said, a large gap in time. Add that to the very unlikely action of Kunta stopping to take a swig from the flask while ON the ladder, and you have a panel that makes no sense whatsoever. It needs to go.)

3rd Bandit

Always get me the shit jobs, for sure (Punctuation. And drop this into the next panel.)

Panel 2: we see 3rd bandit Tobys’ head and shoulders emerge at the roof of the train carriage to peer over, his gun poised and ready. The mysterious unkempt stranger in the duster from page 1 is stood there a few yards away, framed by the moonlight, as dark and sinister as ever. (After an adjustment, this is a better panel than the last. Where would you place the camera, Lance? Think it through, and then tell me why you put it there.)

3rd Bandit

Okay boy, I’m gonna count to threee… (Comma-fail. And I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt for the extra “e.”)

Panel 3: back inside the carriage, at their table the young couple have squeezed up to let the 1st Bandit sit down beside the woman. The young man is bruised and battered, the woman in silent tears, and the bandit is enjoying tormenting them with the tip of his knife at the womans’ lower lip, while stood beside them the 2nd bandit is stood alertly. (Clarity. Something you have to work on, after learning to write for your medium. Now, why is it that neither of their expressions reflect what they’re saying?)

2nd Bandit

Holy shit…!

2nd Bandit

We’re moving! (HUH? When did the train come to a stop? How is it moving now? You haven’t done anything to show either one of these things. You had the girl ask why they were stopping, but trains don’t stop on a dime. They can’t even stop on a silver dollar.)

Panel 4: view like panel 3 of age 2, and we see the younger parents on the foreground of the panel, staring in horror out the window towards us, the young mother clutching the infant daughter and shielding her eyes, while the ringleader is stood beyond them with his gun raised – he is looking towards the end of the carriage in alarm, not having seen what the young parents have. In the immediate foreground is an orange glow as something fiery is just outside the window…(One of two things is going on here with the word “infant.” Either neither of you are fathers, which is totally understandable and acceptable, or neither of you know the meaning of the word, which I find to be totally unacceptable. You ask for an infant, you’re going to get a newborn in swaddling clothes, and it will seem like you’ve got Baby Face Pfinster in there, just missing his cigar.)

Ringleader

What? What the fuh…! Damn it to H-…

Younger mother

.… (I absolutely hate this. One of my pet peeves. The times when just an ellipsis in a word balloon is acceptable are few and far between. Don’t. There’s no need for the beat, which is what you’re creating. Don’t.)

Panel 5: view of the same scene in the centre of the carriage but from behind the ringleader, so he and the younger family are silhouetted against the light outside the window: we see the 3rd bandit Toby tumbling through the air outside having been set on fire from the waist up and thrown over the side. (NO. Remember, panels contain Time. If you’re trying to capture the same moment but from a different point of view, you’re going to have to do it differently. This, however, does not work. And if this is what they were seeing in the last panel, then that doesn’t work, either. Something falling on Earth does so at 32ft per second per second (32 ft/s2). All that would be seen is a flash as he fell. Definitely not time enough to cover an infant’s eyes or more than just begin to understand what was just seen. Not through the window. So, you have two panels here that don’t work. Yannick, I know you’ve been frothing at the mouth. What would be better for these two panels?)

Younger mother

Aaaiiieeee!

Ringleader

Jesus fuckin’ Christ!

Page 5 (Page break.)

Panel 1: The setting is the train station outside the town of Dry Creek. It’s about mid-afternoon, a pleasant sunny day, and the station is facing a large hill with rolling hills around it, around which the train track winds. Lilly is standing under a lantern hanging from a pole. She is a woman of around twenty, in fairly masculine clothes, an approachable-looking Calamity Jane. Red Bear is approaching her, a Native American man of about twenty-three. He’s wearing a red shirt and tan pants, and has a red bandanna around his head holding back his long hair. He has a large knife sheathed on his hip. (Where is the camera? It could be just about anywhere. The bigger thing, though, is that this isn’t going to work. This is P5, which will be on the right. The reader just needs to slide their eyes over, and there they are. You don’t have the clean break you think you do from the previous page. This should be moved to P4. You’ve got enough to cut a page’s worth of material, anyway.)

Lilly

Hey there, Red.

Red Bear

Hello Lilly. Train’s running a little late, isn’t it? (Comma-fail.)

SFX:

(from off-panel)

too-ooot

Panel 2: Closer view of the two of them talking, casually, but now both looking to the left towards the hill from where the train is about to emerge. (This may work, depending on which side of the panel you have them on, and if they’re standing side-by-side or facing one another. Why could it NOT work, John?)

LILLY

Well, got to be a first time for anything.

RED BEAR

I am glad you stayed, to meet the newcomers. Show them hospitality ‘round here is still alive, after all. (What does this panel and dialogue have to do with anything? A very boring introduction.)

Panel 3: this is a very close view from the POV of the top of the train as it emerges from behind the hill into view of the station, so we see the side of the chimney and the top of the boiler chassis, and we can see a thick length of wood has been tied securely horizontally behind the chimney, resting across the top of the train, and one arm of the bandit leader is visible, the wrist tied and hand nailed to the wooden beam. He is dusty, sleeve torn and splattered with blood, his head might be visible too, and he has clearly been tied to the front of the train and crucified through the wrists on the length of wood, with his arms stretching back behind him. (Again, this is impossible. Inanimate objects don’t have a point of view. And even then, you’re point of view angle is all screwed up. Just place the camera, and save point of view angles for people. If the ringleader is behind the chimney, and secured by a horizontal beam, we’re not going to see much of his arm. Then you place him at the front of the train (which is correct) but then stating he can plainly be seen, which contradicts what you wrote in the previous sentence. So, which is it, guys?)

LILY

Red, can – can you see…? (Lilly’s dialogue is OP, which is first. Second, how far away is the train from the stop? Because you went in close, you’re not giving a sense of distance. I’m going to say that she can’t see him. Your job is to tell me why she can.)

Panel 4: big close-up now of the bandit leaders’ face: dusty, dirt smeared, bruised, scratched, exhausted, and dehydrated. A man close to death, but his eyes gazing intensely ahead, embittered, narrowed and sleepless – he’s just been through Hell itself. (You’re not going to get all of that across. Prose writing. And how can he be seen? How can she see him? Does she have binoculars for eyes?)

LILY

(off-panel)

Oh my God… (Comma-fail.)

Panel 5: wide sideview of Lily talking to the bandit, the train having stopped and a wide view of the scrubby desert visible between them. The bandit leader does not look at her, but glares into space or at the ground. (Another huge gap in Border Time here. You need another panel before this in order to close the gap. But, really, it doesn’t matter. I’m bored. On the shelf it goes.)

Lily

What happened? Who did this?

Lily

Can you speak…?

Red Bear

(off-panel)

Lily…!

Well, let’s run it down.

Format: Not bad at all! Just remember the page breaks, guys. And don’t forget when someone is on or off panel.

Panel Descriptions: Terrible, for the most part. The first thing is that you have to know which medium you’re writing for. Most of the time, you’re writing for film, and sometimes, its more prosaic than a panel description needs to be. Know the medium you’re writing for. Think in static panels, and describe what you see. If you MUST think of it as film, I want you to press the pause button, and describe what you see from left to right. Don’t press play until you’ve gotten to the right of the panel. Practice doing that.

There are some panels that are just too full, causing panel descriptions that are overly long and clunky. Trim the fat. Not everything is needed.

Next, you have to know what you’re asking for. Infant or child? See the difference it makes in your mind? And if you have a problem with either, you’re on the internet. The information is out there.

Next, you have to work on your camera angles. Those are going to be paramount. Know where you’re placing the camera, and understand why you’re doing it that way. Again, only an animate object (generally a person) can have a point of view. Remember that. If you need help with terms, again, you’re on the internet…

Pacing: Not good. I’m not one for slow burns. Especially when they’re boring, as this is. You start out boring, you kept being boring, and then when things got to be semi-interesting, it was too late. It was already back on the shelf. As a new writer, you don’t have time for a slow burn. Get in FAST. Then do everything you can to hold onto the audience.

You also have big jumps in Border Time. I think that is because of the filmwriting. It’s also pretty easy to get under control. You two just have to pay a little more attention.

Dialogue: Except for some formatting problems and losing me with what was part of the story being told and what wasn’t, I had no real problem with the dialogue. Some things were a bit clunky, but nothing that made me want to take the keyboard from you. Just remember that swearing will limit your audience, and don’t forget your ending punctuation.

Content: I’ll be the first one to tell you that westerns aren’t my thing. Even though I played Cowboys and Indians when I was a kid, I never watched western movies. (Well, Silverado is good…) However, I’m objective enough to put that aside and do the job. That being said, this was boring. As a reader, I had no investment in the story at all. That’s never a good thing. If you punched it up some, because I’m guessing it is supposed to be something of an action scene to open things up, then you would be able to get the story moving and keep reader interest. It isn’t there yet.

From an editorial standpoint, you took too much time incorrectly describing what was going on instead of telling the story. That’s why it went so slow. I think you also opened up wrong. You have to start LATE in the scene. Start late, leave early. What would have been late? Having an establishing shot on P1, with a caption saying “This is a stick up!” or something else to that effect. Then move on to the train and the ruffians, and then have them getting beat up by an unseen foe. Give it an air of mystery, and you’ll be engaging the reader more times than not. Make them want to know what happened without boring them in the process.

That’s it 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 (18)

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  1. Evan Windsor says:

    Page 1, Panel 3 – You lost your mind for one of two reasons (probably both)

    1) Someone cannot “suddenly appear” on a comic panel. it’s a static panel, either he’s there or he’s not

    2) The camera angle apparently changes in the middle of the description. It starts out as a long, expansive shot, with the character on one side (once he teleports into frame) on top of a hill. This will necessitate drawing the character very small on the page. Then, later, it describes specific details of the character, down to the cigar. These details require a close shot, which is not what is called for. Which is it? wide or close?

    All in all, the panel description needs to be simplifed/clarified, so it succinctly says what it needs to and nothing else.

  2. Liam Hayes says:

    “.… (I absolutely hate this. One of my pet peeves. The times when just an ellipsis in a word balloon is acceptable are few and far between. Don’t. There’s no need for the beat, which is what you’re creating. Don’t.)”

    I know, from repeated experience, that Steven eats ellipses (Ellipsii?) for breakfast.

    “The first thing is that you have to know which medium you’re writing for. Most of the time, you’re writing for film, and sometimes, its more prosaic than a panel description needs to be.”

    I’ve also been guilty of embezzling the script with prose-like descriptions and over-complication. (See my turn in TPG!).

    What you have to remind yourself is, the script is necessary evil; a guide for the artist. As such, it should be made as unencumbering and painless as possible so you can get to the lovely, shiny art. (Hmm.. Maybe that’s a bad way of looking at it?)

    Anyway, those are my thoughts.
    Cheers
    Liam

  3. Rich Douek says:

    And because it has to go in a caption, what needs to happen, Rich?

    For clarity, I usually format my captions like this:

    CAPTION (MIDDLE AGED FATHER): One of the tales is…

    And, in the next panel, you have another character speaking, also in captions, so you’re going to need a visual style to distinguish the two captions. Could be as easy as having the father’s captions in yellow and the girl’s captions in blue.

    FWIW, though, dueling narrative captions are some of the most confusing things for new readers that don’t completely grok the visual language of comics. They often don’t get its a conversation between 2 characters who are both off-panel… just something to keep in mind when you’re doing this sort of thing.

    • You missed it, Rich. Sorry. Probably because it was so simple. Let’s break it down.

      What we have here is a character who is talking to another character, neither of whom is onscreen, and whose dialogue cannot reasonably be heard on panel. So that dialogue has to go into a caption. Everyone with me so far?

      Now, because it is a person speaking to another in a caption, that dialogue HAS to have quotation marks around it. Otherwise, it will read wrong. It will look like either narration or internal monologue, but as soon as you get back to the characters, your brain is going to flip and ask wha jus’ hoppon?

      And now, you’re looking at it and asking yourself how could you have missed that, right, Rich?

  4. Kyle Raios says:

    Panel 1: Shot of a wild west steam train winding through the desert at night. Ref: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a7/Uploco.jpg There are small round cactuses in view by the bright moonlight, and there’s very little light visible in the train windows as they use candles inside. (Reference embedded in the script! I love it! So will the artist. What won’t the artist love? Lack of a camera angle, and lack of direction. Well, that’s not really true. The train is going from left to right. Why do I say that, Kyle?)

    I think, though I may be wrong, that the camera direction comes from the previous panel layout given. With two panels on top, the train, with this shot (being in the first panel) has to go from left to right (as things are read in western literature) so as to properly progress the story, from a graphic standpoint, without confusing the reader.

    And thanks for the question! 😀 Hopefully I got it.

  5. “Yannick, I know you’ve been frothing at the mouth. What would be better for these two panels?”

    Okay, first of all, I’m sorry but I don’t understand the direction for panel 4: “view like panel 3 of [p]age 2”. The third panel of page 2 reads like this:

    “close up view of two of the bandits from earlier, stood either side of a man dressed as they are, minus his hat, who is lying on the tracks, drunk or unconscious. They are lit by a kerosene lamp on the track in front of the man.”

    Why should we be back outside the train on the tracks now? Anyway, I’ll take it as a typo and just whip something up with the story I have here.

    Okay, we got a lot of movement and time going by in these two panels so I’ll have to move things around a lot to accommodate all of the action.

    First of all, I’d advise trying to compress the action so that page 3 ends with Toby the bandit meeting the Mysterious Stranger. That way, you have a nice mini cliffhanger just before your page turn. Maybe something like this:

    Panel X

    Medium shot of TOBY standing on the small platform at the rear of the car. He’s holstering his pistol and unhappily muttering to himself. Behind him, next to the door leading back inside, a small ladder leads to the roof.

    TOBY (SMALL): ALWAYS GIVING ME THE SHIT JOBS, THAT’S FER SURE…

    Panel Y

    Over the shoulder shot of TOBY climbing the ladder. Above him, we can see the edge of the car’s roof and the clear moonlit night sky.

    TOBY: RIGHT, BOY, I’M GONNA COUNT TO THREE!

    TOBY: ONE!

    Panel Z

    Medium shot of TOBY’s head emerging over the edge of the roof, framed by the MYSTERIOUS STRANGER’s boots and flowing duster as the latter looms over him. TOBY is eyes wide and his mouth is agape as he looks up.

    TOBY (DECRESCENDO): TWOOO…

    Page turn to page 4 and we’re back into the train car again. Now we can take our time to decompose the action you wanted in panels 4 and 5.

    Page 4

    Panel 1

    Medium shot of the YOUNG MAN sitting at his table, bloody and battered and looking really alarmed. Behind him and really too close for comfort, smiling BANDIT 1 is leaning on his shoulders and pointing a gun to his head, speaking directly into his ear.

    BANDIT 1: NOW YOU JUST SIT HERE REAL QUIET, MISTER…

    Panel 2

    Inverted shot showing the YOUNG WOMAN sitting on the other side of the table, frightened out of her wits as BANDIT 2 is lurching towards her with his knife drawn, leering and licking his lips. She’s leaning up against the wall as much as she can, pressing her face against the glass of the window.

    BANDIT 1 (OP): … AND MY PARDNER WON’T BE TOO ROUGH ON YER GAL.

    Panel 3

    Tighter shot of the YOUNG WOMAN’s face pressed up against the window as a bright orange glow is illuminating her from outside. She now looks more surprised than frightened.

    TOBY (BURST – OP): YAAAARGH!

    Panel 4

    Medium shot of the RINGLEADER from the back. He’s now leaning over the young family’s table to look out of their window. The MOTHER has turned towards the center of the car, covering the LITLE GIRL’s eyes, while the FATHER is looking outside. The same orange glow is still illuminating the scene.

    RINGLEADER: WHAT THE HELL IZZAT?

    Panel 5

    RINGLEADER’s POV shot of TOBY half consumed by flames from the waist up, rolling around in the rocks and shrubs bordering the track.

    RINGLEADER (OP): TOBY!

    SFX: TCH-TUNK! TSCHHH!

    Panel 6

    Close-up of the RINGLEADER’s face showing a mixture of fear and confusion.

    RINGLEADER: HOLY SHIT! WE’RE MOVING AGAIN!

    SFX: TCHUUUG-TCHUG-TCHG-TCHG…

    To be honest, I have no idea what sound a train makes when it starts moving again. 😛 However, on that note, I felt it was important to have the train move only AFTER Toby is thrown off it, otherwise no one’s gonna have the chance to have a good look at him if the train’s moved past his flailing burning body.

    So anyway, I think most of the problems are now fixed: you got a coherent sequence of actions, proper camera locations and viewpoints, no more moving panels and a good variety in panel composition.

    I also took care of the page transition which seemed a little weak to me. Page turns are your ideal moment for surprises, cliffhangers and revelations. If the action just plainly goes on from one page to another, it feels like something’s missing, like some great opportunity has just been lost. And hey, it’s a free gimmick that’s literally built into the medium, go for it!

    Like Steven said, try to take advantage of this before cutting to the morning scene. I’m sure you can pack a little more action into page 5 so the page turn coincides with the start of the new scene.

    Either that or start the morning scene at the top of page 5 with a bit of conversation between Red Bear and Lilly. Take your time establishing both the location and the characters. Then have the train come in, let your characters squint at it while it approaches, close-up on one of them going with the classic “what the hell…” line and BANG!

    Page turn to that crucified bandit ringleader at the top of page 6! Now you got a page turn that packs a punch!

    Oh and sorry, Steven! I know you only asked for two panels but you know me… 😉

  6. Lance Boone says:

    I just read through this, but I’m tied up this weekend.

    I’ll complete my “homework assignment” Monday. 🙂

  7. Lance Boone says:

    “Are we back inside the car, or are we outside looking in? One way is right, one way is wrong. Which way do you think is the correct way, Lance, and why?”

    In my opinion, I’d say back inside the car. In the panels before the cut-away to the story, the setting has already been well established inside the train car, so I’d return to where I left from.

    At first I thought the dialog being audible outside the roraing train car was an issue, but the more I thought about it, I believe I can recall many times where dialog was springing externally out of rocket ships and such.

  8. Lance Boone says:

    “Panel 2: we see 3rd bandit Tobys’ head and shoulders emerge at the roof of the train carriage to peer over, his gun poised and ready. The mysterious unkempt stranger in the duster from page 1 is stood there a few yards away, framed by the moonlight, as dark and sinister as ever. Where would you place the camera, Lance? Think it through, and then tell me why you put it there.)”

    It seems to me a main point of this panel is to establish Jacob Draught as a bad-ass, sumbitch. A force of nature. I think looking up at him accomplishes that.

    Panel 2: Worm’s eye view from behind Toby. Toby, peering up with gun in hand, hangs from the top of the ladder. Framed by moonlight, Jacob Draught stands over him.

    Also, I think this panel works well to foreshadow the off-panel annihilation that Toby is about to receive.

  9. Luke Noonan says:

    Thanks for reading, everyone. Yes, it was meant to be a slow-burn, hence the gradual pacing, but it is pretty uneventful at the start.
    The confusing story-narration captions will have been my fault, as were most of the ‘camera’ angles (I’m the one with the ‘less than 100x clear head’) but together I think myself and Adam were trying to give the artist room to portray things freely with the semi-prose descriptions. That and we just got carried away, basically.
    The swearing was a way to convey the growing ugliness of the situation (which starts with a peaceful train journey and a childrens’ story) and like the violence was supposed to increase as the comic continued (it’s definitely for mature readers) but did it seem out of place?
    Anyway, the piece is due for a partial rewrite soon which will iron out errors and take all your input into account, and in due course we may resubmit it here as well, so thanks again.

    Luke

    • Like I said before, language is never much of a bother to me. This didn’t seem gratuitous. Just understand that swearing can limit the number of places you sell the book.

      As for the slow burn… I’m not a fan of them for new writers. You have way too much to do than try for a slow burn. Get readers interested as soon as you can. Then you can go for the slow burn on your next project, or the next issue.

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