TPG Week 41: Steven’s Turn!

| October 7, 2011 | 6 Comments

 

 

 

Hello, everyone! Welcome to The Proving Grounds.

There is no Brave One this week, mainly because I messed up and pushed Liam Hayes before Evan Windsor. So, instead of a Brave One, I asked what you’d all like to see. Well, the results are that you all want to see me go under the knife. I can handle that.

So, enlisting the help of a few TPG alum, here I am with a script. We’ve got Tyler, Yannick, and Evan all giving me a thorough drubbing!

First, a legend:

TJ will show up in blue.

YM will show up in red.

EW will show up in purple.

So, with that out of the way, let’s see what they have to say!

Page 1

Page 1

Panel 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Splash page: The Regulators are jumping out of the Hunter-Seeker, which can be seen above them. This is a dynamic shot, with a worm’s eye view through a camera. This is coming from a video feed, so we see what the camera sees in this shot. It is daytime. (TJ: Camera feed. Okay, are we seeing anything on panel that tells us it’s a camera feed? Timestamp, REC button, fuzziness,etc?)

Aurelius (YM: Since we’re seeing this through a camera, I’d make this an electric speech bubble. The case could even be made that since the sound is technically coming in through the mic’s feedback system, the balloon should not have a tail leading back to Aurelius’s mouth.)

Regulators! Mount up!

(TJ:It was a clear black night, a clear white moon… Pouring a little out for my homie Nate Dogg. RIP. Okay with this line, as long as you know it’ll be taken tongue in cheek, humorously, and not serious, because of the song connection. Need to read the rest of the script to see that tone matches. However, now that I think of it, why not go all the way? Does it need to be daytime? Why not, in fact, have them be jumping out of the ship on A CLEAR BLACK NIGHT, with A CLEAR WHITE MOON in the background. Now that’s good stuff, right there!) (EW: So, presumably, you’ve already talked with your artist and explained what Regulators and Hunter-Seekers are. I would like to know where this is happening, even if most of the details aren’t going to be shown in this shot.

 

I’m trying to envision the “coming from a video feed” aspect of this shot. There are a few ways to show this, (adding film grain, adding a red “REC” to the corner, curving the edges a bit so it has the appearance of being viewed on an old tube tv, adding the news logo and news ticker overlays) but pretty much any way I am envisioning this involves using more or less of a 4:3 aspect ratio like a TV. Since this is a splash page, I’m not sure how to pull that off clearly without a lot of wasted space.

 

Maybe you have something more specific in mind, if so, I’d like to see it added to the panel description.)

Page 2

Panel 1

This is downtown NYC (I’m lost. Downtown NYC is one big place. Is it a straight street, an intersection, a plaza? Are there any distinguishable features? Better yet, why not give the artist a reference pic? It’ll be easier for him to “direct” the action that’s coming up in the following pages.)and there are people all over the place. The cameraman and the reporter Alan Hasty are out in front, trying to get close to the action. Aurelius is barking orders. (Are the rest of the Regulators here? If so, what are they doing?) They are going up against the Titans: Atlas, Prometheus, Oceanus, Gorgon, and Kraken. (Are these characters in the shot or are you just stating the protagonists’ intentions? If they are in the shot, this panel is getting mighty crowded for its size; it’s a 5-panel page!) Keep the action semi-confined to a space within shouting distance, and keep people running in panic for a while. (Where’s the camera? I get the vague feeling we have the news crew in the foreground and the heroes in the back with people running around scared around them. However, good idea to tell the artist the relative distance between the characters.) (TJ: Not sure what you’re asking to be drawn here? People everywhere? The Cameraman and the Reporter? The Titans? The Regulators? Not clear at all.) (EW: Who all is visible here? Are all of these titans in frame? What are they doing? And are Conduit, Quickshotte, and Psi-Wren visible? Because they’re not mentioned.)

AURELIUS

Conduit, you’re on Atlas!

AURELIUS (CONT’D)

Quickshotte, take Gorgon.

AURELIUS (CONT’D)

Psi-Wren, you’ve got Kraken!

CAPTION

“This is Alan Hasty reporting live for Action News!” (YM: I’m not sure about this as a caption. You have this character on panel right now. Why not have him speak the dialogue with a regular speech bubble?) (EW: I think a period would work better here. Style choice, though.)

Panel 2

Conduit and Quickshotte (TJ: Why the spelling on Quickshotte?) are moving out(TJ: Out of where?). She (TJ: who is she?) already has an arrow drawn. It should look like electricity this time. Gorgon is there, looking menacing (TJ: “Gorgon is there” doesn’t give me enough info to know that he is facing off vs. the Rugulators.). Don’t forget the people scattering in the background. (YM: Where’s the camera?) (EW: Where are they moving out from/to? And how? Are they still in the hunter-seeker (which I’m assuming is some sort of aircraft)? Jumping out? Running? Flying? This needs to be more specific. Also, Gorgon should be doing more than just standing still. Superheroes don’t get dispatched to take out villains who are doing nothing.)

Conduit

The rook loves to bark orders, don’t he, ‘Shotte?

Quickshotte

Yet, ye still listen, aye?

Gorgon

Mind on your business, Regulator! (EW: This line of dialogue confuses me. Is he encouraging them to fight him better?)

CAPTION

“Violence has once again broken out amidst the human population as supers fight between themselves.” (TJ: This line a little clunky. Violence among humans, as supers fight between themselves. What’s the focus? Human violence, or super fight?)(YM: Now THIS caption works.)(EW: Between should be used when there are only two points. Here, use “among” instead.)

Panel 3

Eye beams from the snakes on Gorgon’s head are tracking Quickshotte. Quickshotte is flipping out the way. There have to be at least 3 stages of the flips, with the last one of her firing the electrical energy arrow. (YM: Where’s the camera? Also technically this would be a moving panel but you’re using movement stages so it’s all good. First time we get those on TPG actually, I think.)

CAPTION

“This time, the Regulators battle the Titans who were destroying property in an effort to make their displeasure of the coming U.N. vote known.” (YM: How does he know this? Have the villains made their demands known? If he’s supposed to be a “good honest” reporter, phrase this objectively: “Witnesses report that… “ If he’s supposed to be a “mean biased” reporter, lay the bad faith on thicker: “As it was bound to happen… “)(EW: Comma fail. Everyone does them! Unless you mean that only some of the Titans were being destructive, and some weren’t, this is wrong.)

Panel 4

The bolt of electricity finds it’s (YM: possessive form: “its”) mark in Gorgon’s shoulder, with shocking results. (YM: What are those results? Either you have a lot of trust in your artist or there are some details missing here. Is Gorgon engulfed in lightning? Is she writhing in pain? Does she crumple up under the pain or does she seizes up straight? Also, where’s the camera?)

QUICKSHOTTE

If ye were more o’ a challenge, Gorgon, I’d pay ye more attention.

GORGON

Aaaagh!

CAPTION

“Quickshotte, the energy selecting archer, takes out the snake-haired Gorgon.” (YM: This guy sounds way too calm for someone who’s reporting live from the battle lines. It almost sounds like he’s commenting baseball instead. Makes me think of the “newspaper” captions we had in Superman recently. He’s not reporting after the fact here: he’s there! Put a little urgency in there. Also, I have an issue with the word “selecting”, it doesn’t sound super at all. My girlfriend is a color-selecting job counselor and it doesn’t imply any superpowers. Maybe Quickshotte is an “energy-shooting archer” or an “energy-infused archer”?)(EW:I understand the point of this line of dialogue, but it needs to be punchier. The news anchor should be excited, or scared – something more than just retelling what is going on in a monotone.)

Panel 5

Gorgon’s unconscious, on the ground, totally limp. Quickshotte stands over her, another arrow drawn. (YM: Where’s the camera?

QUICKSHOTTE

Psi-Wren’s tryin’ tae teach me t’talk trash. Seein’ as yuir unconscious, it’s a wasted effort. (YM: I see a lot of double spaces between your sentences. I don’t think the letterer is going to like this. I don’t care if you do it for panel descriptions but use single spaces in your dialogue.)(EW: I would go with “ta” instead of “tae” for clarity. Fine line when talking in dialects, but I would go for clarity over flavor every time.)

Page 3

Panel 1

Atlas stands with his arms crossed, laughing at Conduit, who looks pensive. Conduit’s hand is on his chin and all. This is through the eye of the camera. (YM: Where is this camera? If it’s being held by the news cameraman, you’re severely limiting your viewpoints: no bird’s eye view or other crazy angles. And, as I’ve noted on page 1, if this is seen through the news camera, maybe the speech bubbles should be of the electric variety.)

Atlas

Ha!

ATLAS (CONT’D)

I’m not stupid! Best way to beat you is to not fight you! “Mighty Conduit,” indeed! (EW: I think it would be better to have Atlas explain himself here conversationally, instead of waiting for it to be fed to us via captions. Something like “I know if I attack you, you’ll just return it tenfold, so I’ll keep eating these civilians and there’s not a thing you can do about it, thank you very much.”)

CONDUIT

Hmm. Might’ve been a good plan, Atlas…

CAPTION

“Conduit’s tenacity and ability to exponentially return energy attacks has earned him the grudging respect of criminals over the years.” (YM: I know you’re trying to present the heroes and what powers they have, but this sounds very wordy coming from a reporter describing a battle as it takes place. If you really want to include this information in the panel, I’d suggest framing your shot as a TV screen and having the info appear as a news ticker at the bottom of the screen.)(EW: As I mentioned, the captions telling us what we need to know, gets a little tired, more color commentary and backstory; less narration and power descriptions.)

Panel 2

Conduit releases a photon blast from his hands right at Atlas, sending him flying backwards! (YM: Is this still seen through the camera? What’s the angle? Where are the characters situated in the panel? Is Atlas flying towards us or away from us?)(EW: I like this, right here. It’s a clever take on the powerset, and I can imagine some pretty fun things you can do with it later – especially since Conduit and Aurelius seem to not always get along. I’m envisioning Conduit mouthing off before a mission and Aurelius zapping him to shut him up, and its making me smile.)

CONDUIT

Except Aurelius gave me a boost!

CONDUIT (CONT’D)

He may be a rookie compared to me, but he has good ideas every so often. (YM: Pet peeve time: I have trouble when characters talk too much for time taken by the action in the panel. Since this is already a 6-panel page, we can’t add another panel for the second speech bubble. Hence, I suggest you conflate the two: “Except the rookie gave me a boost!” That way, you keep the basic idea and you manage to slip in the condescending tone of the team towards Aurelius.)(EW: I’d pull out the “compared to me”. It’s unnecessary and breaks up the flow a bit.)

Panel 3

Psi-Wren is flying round and round the huge Kraken, who’s swatting at her. (YM: Moving panel: you can show her flying near Kraken or swooping around him but not “flying round and round”.) She is the only one away from the main battle. (YM: Does that mean I should have seen Conduit facing Atlas in the background of Quickshotte and Gorgon’s battle? If so, you need to go back and add that to the description. But beware: you’re getting pretty crowded panels for a 6-pen grid.) People are still running from the monster. (EW: Ah! Psi-Wren is flying! Good to know (probably should have known sooner, though). Now, why is she away from the main battle? Is it because Kraken is water-bound? I’m guessing so, but it’s not stated here. Also, if he’s just chilling in the water apart from the group, is he a part of the property damage happening? His villainous actions need to be shown.)

Psi-wren

Big and ugly! I’d commit crimes if I looked like you, too!

Kraken

Graargh!

CAPTION

“Psi-Wren, who has telekinetic armor, (YM: Is this visible here? Because the most visible aspect of her power right now is her ability to fly. Shouldn’t that get a mention?) was instrumental in saving the life of the President three years ago.” (EW: Saving the President – this is the kind of flavor text I would like to see more of in the captions.)

Panel 4

Psi-Wren swings her arm, and releases “feathers’ of TK into the armored scales of the brute! (YM: How far out is the camera? How obvious is it going to be that those are “feathers” if you pull out enough to put both characters inside the shot?)

PSI-WREN

Take this! (TJ: Don’t think I’ve ever heard a “Take This!” uttered. Take that, maybe.)(YM: Are you going for some kind of pastiche of Youngblood? Big oblivious supers thinking they’re saving the world when they’re in fact p***ing everyone off? If you are, make the obliviousness more obvious. If not, this line needs rewriting: it’s basic level one superhero dialogue. No one says “take this” in a comic with a straight face anymore.)

Panel 5

Kraken roars in pain, but he’s more annoyed looking than anything. The real focus of this panel is on the crowd, whose look is VERY mean. No frightened faces in this crowd. They’re all tired of it. (YM: OK so this is a wide shot – that should be specified. Also, you haven’t said it before, but are they any emergency personnel on the scene? Police? Firemen? EMTs? SWAT teams? National Guard? The three first on this list show up just for a gas leak; I suppose a full out battle between superpowered beings would warrant a bit more, if only to cordon off the area so people don’t get hurt.)

KRAKEN

Grraaagh!!!

CaPTION

“But not even a kudo such as that seems to stem the rising tide of unrest around me.” (YM: The way you described it further up, I don’t see any unrest; maybe annoyance but not unrest. If you want unrest, you need people shouting, picking up sticks and rocks, pushing against barricades and riot police showing up. Don’t just TELL us that the crowd looks mean and that they’re tired of the situation, SHOW us what they’re doing.) (And I keep thinking the reporter is way too tame. We need some “Whoa, did you folks at home see that? Quickshotte just electrocuted Gorgon. I repeat: Quickshotte has just executed his opponent!” and “I don’t know if you can still hear us in the studio, Tom, but the crowd here is getting very ugly. Police are trying to contain the spectators but I don’t know how long they have before this develops into a full-scale riot!”)

Panel 6

Psi-Wren weaves in and out of his (TJ: Kraken’s) six arms as he swipes at her again. (YM: Moving panel: you can’t show “weaving in and out” unless you go for movement stages again. And again: where’s the camera?) Letterer: the telepathic bubbles should be the same color as her armor- pinkish purple. Thanks. (YM: Note to the letterer! Nice! We don’t see a lot of those.) (EW: I’m worried this won’t work – She hasn’t been established as a telepath, only as a telekinetic. Also, do Aurelius’s bubbles look the same as Psi-Wren’s? I would break this up into two panels, one showing her “calling” Aurelius, then one of Aurelius receiving her telepathic request and responding in a regular thought bubble. That seems clearer to me.)

PSI-WREN

(telepathic)

Aurelius!

PSI-WREN (CONT’D)

(telepathic)

If I take him down, he’ll cause a lot of damage! (YM: And what about when she shot him before? What changed since then?)

AURELIUS

(telepathic)

Stall! This shouldn’t take long!

Page 4

Panel 1

Aurelius faces off against Prometheus. He is standing behind a shield of light, and is deflecting upwards a gout of flame from Prometheus’ sword. (YM: Where’s the camera?)

Prometheus

You’re working for the wrong side, Aurelius.

PrOMETHEUS (CONT’D)

Your birthright will make you as much an outcast as the rest of us!

AURELIUS

We’re here to help, Prometheus!

PROMETHEUS

Ha! (YM: You have one too many bubbles here. Person A speaks, Person B replies and Person A gets one reply; that’s quite enough. Otherwise, you’re covering up a lot of art. Also the panel’s getting crowded, especially with the big caption coming up and the fact it’s once again a 6-panel grid. I think you can safely remove this last one without hurting the narrative.)

CaPTION

“Aurelius, the leader of the Regulators with control over light, is a relative newcomer, being operational for the three years the Regulators have been around.” (TJ: Clunky. Condense.)(YM: I don’t understand this at all. If he’s been “operational for the three years the Regulators have been around”, how does this makes him a newcomer compared to the Regulators? You just told us they’ve all been operating for the same time.)

Panel 2

Tight shot of Prometheus as he looks smug. (YM: This is the second time only you’ve called for a specific camera shot and we’re already on page 4.)

PROMETHEUS

Your beliefs are going to make us second-class citizens- (YM: Why the dash here? Did he change his mind in the middle of his speech and interrupt himself?)

PROMETHEUS (CONT’D)

Just as you’re a second-class leader, since Martial came to our side!

Panel 3

Small panel with a tight shot of Quickshotte, who looks shocked. No text.

Panel 4

Small panel with a tight shot of Psi-Wren, who’s still flying, but she looks shocked. No text.

Panel 5

Small panel with a tight view of Conduit. His face should match his text.

CONDUIT

He just had to push that button…

Panel 6

Dynamic view of Aurelius punching out Prometheus. His fist is surrounded by what looks like a bigger fist of hard light, and this blow looks like it should HURT. (YM: I think you have a small gap in border time here. First panel: Aurelius is deflecting Prometheus’ fire. Second panel: tight shot of Prometheus. Then three tight shots of the other Regulators. And now Aurelius is already all up in Prometheus’ face, punching him out. He goes from a purely defensive stance to a full-out attack, all in the space of four tight reaction shots on other characters. If you want to smooth out this transition, I’d suggest changing Prometheus’s tight shot to a medium shot so you can show Aurelius on panel balling his glowing fist, clenching his teeth or something.)

Sfx

KRAK

Page 5

Panel 1

Aurelius stands over Prometheus, who’s unconscious. Prometheus’ sword is now just a hilt, and his flaming wings are gone as well. Aurelius is talking to the rest of the team. (YM: Where’s the camera?)

AURELIUS

(telepathic)

Put them down and keep them down.

CAPTION

“As these battles become ever more commonplace, humanity has to ask itself: (YM: Not sure about this punctuation. I’d say to end this with an ellipsis instead of a colon and then close the quotation marks.)

Panel 2

Conduit is looking at Atlas, who has his hands up in surrender. (YM: Where’s the camera?)

CONDUIT

If you give up now, I won’t have to hit you anymore.

ATLAS

Yeah, I’m done. (YM: I like this a lot. Too often, we see villains getting beaten to a pulp and carted off unconscious on stretchers. It’s nice to see some reasonable people who know when to quit.)

cAPTION

“When will it end?”

Panel 3

Quickshotte has the drop on Oceanus (YM: Whoa! Where was THIS guy all that time? We never even saw him fight anyone. Is he the only guy who showed up to a super power fight with only pathos?), who’s cradling the still unconscious Gorgon. Her energy arrow is at the ready, with the bowstring tight. (EW: Oceanus does NOTHING this story but surrender. Cut him entirely.)

QUICKSHOTTE

Ye surrender, aye? (YM: You laid the dialect on a little thick here. I don’t think the final “aye” was necessary. Quickshotte has been putting this on since her first appearance and it’s starting to grate. Now I’m actually hoping it turns out it was an act all this time and that she has an every day American accent when in her secret identity.)

Oceanus

Yes. (YM: One word and it’s perfect. Now if we only knew the character’s expression it’d be more than perfect.)

Panel 4

Psi-Wren is still weaving around Kraken, who’s enraged at his inability to hit her. He has thrown an object (like a fire hydrant or something), and misses her. (YM: This is a moving panel: Psi-Wren flying around a powerless Kraken, Kraken throwing something at her and then the shot missing her. If you want these actions to remain clear for the reader, you’d need three panels, which would bring the page to a whopping 8 panels.)

PSI-WREN

(telepathic)

I’m not going to be talking my way out of this one, guys!

Panel 5

Reverse angle of the projectile flying towards a helpless Banning Knox. (YM: You can’t really reverse an angle if you didn’t specify it in the previous panel.) This is through Psi-Wren’s visor, so it’s a bluish view, with all kinds of range finders and information on projectile speed and distance and stuff. Banning looks calm and cool, not panicked in the least. (YM: This will be tricky to convey. You need room enough to show the projectile heading his way but you also need to be close enough to show the expression on his face. Maybe add an inset zoomed image of his face in Psi-Wren’s HUD?) (EW: I think for this panel to work, Psi-Wren needs to be looking at the projectile in the previous panel as it flies past her. Your artist would PROBABLY draw it that way anyway, but it helps to be overt sometimes.)

PSI-WREN (EW: offpanel or caption?)

Damn!

Panel 6

Psi-Wren flies straight toward Banning, who’s looking at the lethal object coming toward him. He has a small smile on his face. It’s a race! No text. (TJ: Having trouble picturing this panel. How do you show Psi-Wren flying, the object hurling toward Banning, AND the smile on his face. Not saying it can’t be done, but it’s late and I can’t picture it.)(YM: Same problem as last panel: you’re trying to show broad sweeping movements and specific expressions at the same time. Also: no camera angle or distance.)

Page 6

Panel 1

Psi-Wren wins, picking up Banning at the last moment, right before the object connects! Show the disparity between their sizes, because Psi-Wren is pretty short, just like the bird of her namesake. This is through the camera. (EW: The news camera? I thought the news camera was over by the main fight and Psi-Wren and Kraken were off by themselves somewhere.)

PSI-WREN

Gotcha!

Banning

Whoa!!

SFX

SWOOSH

CaPTION

Are the supers our saviors, or are we as insignificant to them as we sometimes feel?” (YM: Is he writing an editorial or reporting live from a battle? Psi-Wren just saved a citizen from certain death and he missed it? His cameraman just caught the whole thing on tape!)

Panel 2

Psi-Wren lands with Banning, away from the fight and the danger of the battle. There are other people milling around the city street. (YM: Where’s the camera?)

PSI-WREN

Here you go, sir.

BANNING

Thank you, Psi-Wren. You be careful, now- he’s a big ‘un!

PSI-WREN

Heh! Will do!

Panel 3

Banning watches as Psi-Wren flies away to rejoin the battle. (YM: Where’s the camera? Is Banning facing us? Is Psi-Wren flying towards us or away from us?)

BANNING

Girl’s fast and strong to be so tiny. Must be her telekinesis. (TJ: Not sure I know anyone who would phrase this sentiment this way. A little odd.)

BANNING (CONT’D)

Pretty, too. If I were fifty years younger… (EW: You know how you were chastising me for being creepy a couple weeks ago? Back atcha.)

Panel 4

Banning is walking away from the battle. (YM: Where’s the camera?) If possible, show Kraken falling down behind him in the distance. (YM: Not “if possible”. It HAS to be shown because it’s the only thing closing the gap in border time between pages 5 and 7.) (EW: I love that we’re taking a little break from the action to show Banning, but you can tell the battle is still going on. While I dislike the dialogue this panel, I love him talking while the Kraken just happens to die behind him.)

BANNING

She’s no Arane, but still…

BANNING (CONT’D)

I’m not so old that I can’t appreciate beauty, right? (TJ: I’m having a bit of a problem with all of the name dropping. You’ve got 10 brand new chracters you’re trying to introduce in the script, with the challenge of sussing out heroes from villains, and you’re also dropping names of characters who aren’t here. Might be too confusing to readers. I get you’re trying to establish a larger world/context, but could get you in trouble.) (EW: The creep continues. The former line by itself is iffy, but you hammer it into the ground. I realize he’s a bit of a crazy old person, but depending on how you intend to use him, having his first impression be all about ogling boobs might not be the way to go.)

Panel 5

Banning is walking down the street. There are people around, looking at him a bit strangely, but he pays them no mind. The news crew is somewhere in the background, too. (YM: Why? You said last panel that Banning was walking away from the battle? Isn’t the news team still covering the battle? What are they doing here)

BANNING

Are you even listening?

BANNING (CONT’D)

I’ve been telling you that the Regulators are doing good work…

BANNING (CONT’D)

But I think the tide’s turning against them.

Panel 6

Banning has stopped in front of a wall. On the brick wall is a poster of Sovereign. The poster is old, torn, and yellowing. Sovereign looks dramatic and iconic in the poster. His costume and colors should be changed a bit. Even better, if possible, hide this poster with Banning’s frame. We see he’s looking at something, and we know it’s some kind of poster, but not what.

BANNING

You’ve heard the rumblings, same as me. Something has to be done before we all lose.

BANNING (CONT’D)

Are you paying me any mind?

Panel 7

This is from behind Banning, who’s walking away from us. We’re still focused on the poster, and Banning is almost out of the panel. Now we get to see Sovereign looking iconic. (YM: Hold on. Banning was standing in front of the wall in the last panel, hiding the poster with his body. Now he’s walking away from the wall with his back to us. How is it possible that we still see the wall? If you want to focus on the poster on the wall, Banning has to walk TOWARDS us.)

BANNING

-sigh-

BANNING (CONT’D)

No one listens to their elders anymore.

Page 7

Panel 1

This is a worm’s eye view, looking up into a surprised and angrily disgusted looking Psi-Wren. (YM: Camera angle! Yay!)

PSI-WREN

That bastard!

Panel 2

Reverse angle to look over her shoulder. Kraken is down, but looks like a small, deformed child. (YM: I haven’t read the character descriptions, but I hope it’s very obvious that this is the same character as the one Psi-Wren was last seen fighting on page 5. Otherwise, coupled with the gap in border time, your readers will be very confused.) No older than 10. The child is unconscious. Alan Hasty is in front of a crowd, and his cameraman is there, too. (YM: Why is it important for the news crew to be there? They’re not doing anything until later when Alan interviews Aurelius. What are they doing in this panel? Why not rather focus on the deformed child surrounded by outraged bystanders? I think that would be a lot more effective in sustaining drama.) (EW: I’m confused by what you mean here. Can Kraken shapeshift? This panel needs to be clearer, since, based on reactions, it is the most villainous thing any of the villains do. Also, since he already got defeated, how is he now “using kids”. And Aurelius isn’t even there!)

PSI-WREN

(whispering)

Kids…

PSI-WREN (CONT’D)

(telepathic)

He’s using kids, Aurelius! Hit him again!

Panel 3

Aurelius is talking, touching an earpiece. The other Regulators are around him, and they look wary as they oversee the Titans. (YM: Where’s the camera? What is everyone doing? “Overseeing” isn’t very specific. Are the villains bound in any way? Are they standing, sitting, kneeling?) Everyone is here but Psi-Wren. (YM: And Aurelius isn’t acknowledging her at all, even though she addressed him in last panel.) (EW: So let me get this straight… The gang beats the bad guys (the ones that don’t surrender). After having been beaten, the bad guys (or maybe just Kraken) “use kids”, which I don’t know what you mean, but it must be bad. Psi-Wren pleads for Aurelius to “Hit him again” (who? Aurelius only hit Prometheus, who is now unconscious). Then, instead of hitting anyone, Aurelius makes a phone call as though everything is fine and solved. Then he lectures a guy about how bad it is to “use kids” when said guy did not “use kids”, he just surrendered. This whole sequence confuses me greatly.)

AuRELIUS

Regulator-1 to Clean Sweep Command: Five for pickup.

Csc

(electric)

Clean Sweep Command to Regulator-1: Roger. Destination?

AURELIUS

The Greft.

CSC

(electric)

Acknowledged.

Panel 4

The Titans are grouped together, looking relatively humble. The Regulators are still wary. (YM: Once again: where’s the camera? What is everybody doing? What’s around them?) Oceanus is talking. (YM: Of course he is: he has dialogue lines. Cut this sentence out of the description.)

OCEANUS

You’re all nothing but race traitors! Let’s see what you “regulate” when you’re locked up with us!

AURELIUS

This is not an “us versus them” situation, Oceanus. This is about what’s right and wrong. Your ways are wrong, and now you have to pay.

AURELIUS (CONT’D)

And using kids…

AURELIUS (CONT’D)

You’re scum. Live with it.(YM: Aurelius sure rambles on. That’s 34 words spread out into three speech bubbles. Cut out what I’ve put in blue and the rest is still strong enough to stand on its own.)

Panel 5

Alan has rushed in to speak to Aurelius. Aurelius doesn’t look happy to see him in the least bit. The people in the background look pissed off, as well. (YM: OK we know which expression everyone’s sporting. Now we only need to know where’s the camera.)

Alan

Aurelius! Alan Hasty, Action News!

AURELIUS

I know who you are.

ALAN

What are your thoughts on this latest outbreak of violence between supers, and what does it mean for race relations between humans and supers? (YM: Is this an essay question or a live interview? If you see reporters in real life, their questions are short and to the point. They need to wedge their questions in there, knowing that the simplest and shortest ones will get an answer. So blue cut!)

AURELIUS

No comment, Alan. (YM: Cut this line out. The caption on the next page concludes this exchange in a satisfactory manner and the repetition didn’t add anything substantially dramatic.)

Page 8

Panel 1

Still daytime. We have an aerial shot of a warehouse in some sort of commercial district. This is just an establishing shot. Nothing too fancy. (YM: No, but still a reference pic would be nice.)

CAPTION

“No comment.”

Panel 2

Inside the warehouse is an assembly of supers. They are all villains, so their costumes should look aggressive. Standing on a makeshift stage is Apex. She’s speaking to a crowd of about thirty. At her side, arms folded as she looks out into the crowd, is her sister Nadir. We are at the back of the warehouse, at the edge, looking at Apex. The supers here are not all beautiful and perfect. (YM: OK, we got a camera angle – sort of – and a nice complete description of the scene. However, this is a jumbled mess that needs to be reordered. First, set your camera angle and distance, next start describing the scene from left to right or from top to bottom. Take care to group all pertinent information together. For example, don’t start by saying there’s “an assembly of supers”, then later tell us how many there are and finally, at the end of the description, describe them. Your artist will be wonderfully thankful if you can keep all the info he needs well ordered. When he refers to the script, his job will be made a lot easier if everything pertaining to one subject is grouped at the same place.)

Apex

I don’t know about the rest of you, but in the simplest terms, I feel like Popeye.

APEX (CONT’D)

“I’ve had all I can stand, and I can’t stand no more!” (YM: First, this seems a little forced, like you were just itching to plug it into a script, and second: you’re gonna get SUED. Cut this lne and the preceding one out.)

APEX (CONT’D)

It’s not just a problem here in America. The same disparities are happening worldwide! (YM: Dennis O’Neil said: “Start a scene as late as possible.” Well this is it. Move the first sentence of this speech balloon as a caption in the first panel and start with an ellipsis, as if we just come in late for the speech. Then use the second sentence in this panel.)

Panel 3

Much closer to Apex as she continues to speak. (YM: How close are we talking about? Is it a slightly tighter shot? A medium shot of Apex? A close-up? The last panel’s camera angle was kinda vague as well so it’s hard to judge a relative term like “much closer” here.)

APEX

Nadir and I watched as supers the world over are treated worse than slaves were one hundred years ago, or Chinese Americans two hundred years ago. (YM: Really not sure about that last bit about the Chinese. While historically factual, what does it contribute here? Historical accuracy isn’t a plus in a comic but pacing is. Out it goes!)

APEX (CONT’D)

Even as babies, those of us who cannot pass as “normal” are being either put to death as “demons”, or left to die!

APEX (CONT’D)

This is the enlightened age of the 21st century?! (TJ: Really? Is she being hyperbolic? Who’s putting them to death or leaving them to die? Wouldn’t that have been mentioned in the earlier news broadcast?)(YM: I would have put this line in its own panel with emphasis and the crowd cheering, just to milk out its natural oratory goodness.)

Panel 4

Even closer. (YM: Once again, that’s a very relative indication and you haven’t given us a good absolute starting point.) We can see (YM: Missing word!) the wildness in her eyes. It’s almost scary, because she’s also beautiful. (YM: But what is she doing?)

APEX

We are entering a dark age. (YM: This is a very cliché sentence. I’m sure you can find something better that conveys the same feeling but with words that are your own.)

ApEX (CONT’D)

In less than a week, world leaders are going to vote on whether or not we should be registered, as if we’re cattle.

APEX (CONT’D)

This vote passes – our very existence becomes illegal. We’ll spend our lives either in prison, or hunted down. (YM: Whoa really? My dad has registered firearms; does that mean he’s going to jail? That’s a mighty leap in logic. If you want her to sound like a dangerously charismatic leader, she’s going to have to make more sense. That means she’d have to demonstrate her point before jumping on the “THEY’RE ALL GONNA KILL US” platform. Otherwise, it only makes her seem like a cheap demagogue and the people who follow her look like blind extremists deserving of whatever the Regulators throw their way. Unless that’s exactly what you’re going for, but then that’s pretty easy characterization.)

Page 9

Panel 1

Splash page. Apex stands with her fists up in defiance. A very dramatic pose. The crowd erupts in cheers for her. (YM: And for the last time: where’s the camera?)

APEX

I won’t stand for it!

APEX (CONT’D)

I won’t stand by and watch us marginalized!

APEX (CONT’D)

I will not sit back and let them do this to us!

APEX (CONT’D)

I will attack them before they can collar me! I will fight tooth and nail for my freedom! (YM: I’d stop here and push the rest into a second panel. THAT is where the real juicy drama is: milk it out. Personally, I’d do this second panel with Apex with her back to us, facing the crowd cheering her.)

APEX (CONT’D)

(yelling)

Who’s with me?!

Chanting

(from crowd)

Apex! Apex! Apex! Apex! Apex! Apex!

 

 

YM: And now to run it down…

Format: Your doubles spaces will make your letterer murderous with rage but apart from that, nothing to say. There were a few issues of speech balloons but those are debatable.

Panel descriptions: You’re missing way too many camera angles. Furthermore, it seems half the time we have no idea what the characters are doing on panel and where they are in relation to the others. Your artist is going to have a lot of questions for you since all you’re telling him is which characters appear on the panel and what half of them are doing at the time.

Pacing: Not too bad except for one jarring jerk in the narrative: page 6. You’re holding your readers on red alert with a big scale battle in the heart of NYC and all of a sudden, we’re following a doddering old man around. I totally get what you’re trying to accomplish with this scene but push it back to AFTER the battle. The way you’re setting this up here, you’re breaking the rhythm of your fight scene and frustrating the reader. There’s no way he’ll be able to appreciate the subtlety of the Banning scene after you pulled a trick like this.

Dialogue: Generally good except that you tend to add that little snippet at the end of conversations that’s just too much. Be also very wary of using “prefabricated sentences” like “Take this” or “We are entering a dark age.” This smacks of laziness and constitutes a sure turn-off for any reader who is even moderately well-read.

Content: I’ll be honest: I was waiting all along for an original hook that would set this apart from X-Men. It was all about relations between supers and humans as a parallel for race relations in the real world and just when we think it’s introducing something new into the equation, there’s this smell of Kingdom Come wafting into the script. They say there are no original ideas anymore, just new ways to explore those ideas. I want you to go back and think about what could make your story stand out. If you’ve already thought out a new way to treat this subject, good! Just introduce it a lot earlier in order for your reader to pick it off the shelf and take it home. As it stands now, it’s not enough for a market newcomer. Back on the shelf it goes and your prospective reader buys yet another X-Men spinoff instead.

Editorially, this needs a lot of work. Most description need to be rewritten to include camera angles, character actions and face expressions. You also need to restructure the order of the scenes in order to remove the teeth-rattling break in pacing that is page 6 and move it somewhere its significance can be appreciated. Dialogue also has certain issues, most notably Alan’s lines that seem so out of touch with the situation or even the character himself. Most importantly however, you need to introduce an original hook early in that story if you want to retain the reader’s interest once the action has died down. It’s good that you start out with a bang, but you won’t get the money inside the reader’s pockets if that bang sits on the shelf alongside 50 other bangs. Find what makes your story special and throw it in our face right at the start.

 

Format – Good. Using Final Draft screen writing software, I take it? Easy to read and follow.

Panel Descriptions – Pretty good, though could use another pass. I flagged panels where it was unclear what the focus should be. With all of the action and characters you’re describing, the artist will have his work cut out for him fitting them into some of your 6 panel pages.

 

Also, worth noting that for a book like this, with 15-20 characters making their debut, this will require a TON of pre-production/character design work, before a single page is drawn. Probably a month or two at least. Ah, the drawbacks of a team book.

Pacing – Fine. The book flowed logically and was readable.

Dialog – Serviceable. A few clunky lines which I flagged. Also, I’m still not certain about the tone of the work. As I said, the “Regulators…Mount Up” line suggests a pop-culture nod to the reader (at least for this 30 something reader), which really wasn’t followed up on elsewhere in the script. The bulk of the script seems to be playing it straight.

Content – Okay, here is wherein your challenge doth lie. I’ve written before on ComixTribe about the challenge the indie creator faces when doing a capes book. My stance was that indie super hero books, by and large, face an uphill battle. However, if you’re going to do a supes book, you need to do one (or more of the following:

  1. Have a Strong Hook – Nine pages in, I have no idea what the hook of this story is. Super hero fight, humanity and supers on shaky grounds, supervillains declaring they’ll fight for their right to…superfight? Not sure. But I don’t know what’s unique or pitchable about this story. At least, it’s not in the first nine pages.
  2. Give the reader something the Big Two isn’t – I’m struggling to find original ideas in this pitch. People with powers in conflict with the bulk of humanity without is very 1965, covered over and over again by the X-Men. A pending super-hero registration act? Very 2006, hey Mark Millar. So, again, I’m not sure what this storyline is going to give me that I can’t get from the Big Two (with incredible art from top talent to boot.) If you can’t answer that question, this is a non-starter for me.
  3. Push the Envelope – One way indies have managed to cover well-tread ground of the big two is by pushing the envelope (artistically, stylistically, graphically, etc.) and tell a story the Big Two can’t or won’t. Garth Ennis’ The Boys comes to mind. This script plays it safe, however.
  4. Give ‘em YOU – A final way indies can tell superhero stories that can actually break through is to tell a story only YOU can tell. Give it a personal angle or point of view that no one else in the world could come up with. The script here doesn’t really pass that test. It’s a rather generic smash ‘em up, and I’m not getting a strong sense of voice that says this is a Steve Forbes book.

Also, from a story structure perspective, I have no idea who the protagonist is. Granted, team books don’t always have one (or just one), and good team books will give every character strong motivations and room for an arc. However, some of the best team books still ground the reader in with a particular character. Astonishing X-Men opens with Kitty Pride returning to the X-mansion for the first time in years. Though a true ensemble, that entire arc can be read as a Kitty arc. By introduced so many characters and a couple of points of view in the opening nine pages, you’re making it a bit difficult for the reader to latch on.

From a technical standpoint, the script is serviceable, and probably would be a lot of fun for an artist to draw. I think the immediate work is to step back and go big picture…what’s unique about this story? Why does it deserve the hard work and countless hours of production to come into being? What sets it apart, and how do you pitch it to a “meh” culture? Once you’ve answered these questions, I think it’ll become a lot easier to infuse those elements back into a revised draft of the script, and make it something that’ll stand out on the shelves.

 

EW: Format: Did anyone really expect Steven to NOT get the format right? Personally I’ve never liked the “screenplay” presentation of dialogue where it’s centered and heavily indented, but it’s not wrong.

 

Panel Descriptions: Steven sidesteps a lot of the rookie mistakes by consistently telling where and when the action is happening, explaining where the camera goes, and staying away from things that are undrawable. Here’s where I have a problem though – They’re kind of boring sometimes. We have a crop of villains who, for the most part, are standing looking menacing, or are just getting the crap beat out of them. We don’t really see them villaining. Sure, some of them fight back at the heroes, but we don’t see the crisis that called the heroes there in the first place. The whole sequence could be told in a more visually interesting way, otherwise these villains are totally ignorable.

 

Pacing: Done quite well, I love the sort of organic transition to Banning in the middle of the fight. The problem is, you have a reporter, 5 Titans, 4 Regulators, Banning and Sovereign, Apex, and a crowd of villains. 13+ characters in 9 pages. Most of these characters are underdeveloped or not developed at all. I feel like you’re trying to do too much in too little space – I’d hold off on introducing some of those characters, so the ones you introduce have more time to be realized and connect with the readers.

 

Dialogue: Mostly pretty good, but ouch is the reporter’s dialogue painful. I understand he is there to give backstory in an organic way, but almost nothing he says sounds organic yet. Pretty much all this guy’s dialogue needs a second pass. I’d love to see more personality from the villains, too.

 

Content: Superheroes are hard – I feel like more so than any other genre, you really need to do something that hasn’t been done before. Unless someone sees a new take on the genre, they’ll pick up Spidey or Bats instead.

 

There’s the whole “fighting to protect a world which hates and fears you” which is pure X-Men. There’s the superhero registration act from Marvel’s Civil War. And there’s the older generation of heroes watching on, which is very reminiscent of Watchmen. There’s a lot of elements there – but nothing I feel like I haven’t seen before.

 

That said, I’ve only read these 9 pages. I’d bet Steven’s got some wicked twist lined up. I just would like to see it SOONER. Get your hooks in early.

 

Also, the heroes drop in and decimate the villains. Most of them go down in one punch, or zero punches. None of the heroes even get glancing damage. The fight is totally one-sided. The villains need to challenge the heroes, because overcoming challenges is what makes heroes heroic. In the same number of panels, I’d rather see them fight 1 challenging enemy than 5 pushovers. Plus concentrating them all on a single foe gives them more time to interact with one another and reveal their characters more.

 

And that’s it for this week, folks. Took something of a beating, didn’t I? Just goes to show that everyone needs an editor. (Nope! You won’t get any answers to anything in the post. Drop down to the comments for some of those.)

 

I want to thank Tyler, Yannick, and Evan for taking the time out oto help me with this. I greatly appreciate it.

 

If you’d like to see something like this again, sound off! Either in the comments or to me privately. I won’t know if you don’t tell me.

That’s all I have. Check the calendar to see who’s REALLY up 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 [email protected] for rate inquiries.

Comments (6)

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  1. “Quickshotte has the drop on Oceanus (YM: Whoa! Where was THIS guy all that time? We never even saw him fight anyone. Is he the only guy who showed up to a super power fight with only pathos?), who’s cradling the still unconscious Gorgon. Her energy arrow is at the ready, with the bowstring tight. (EW: Oceanus does NOTHING this story but surrender. Cut him entirely.)”

    Glad to see I wasn’t the only one to pick up on Oceanus’ weird non-presence. However, I like Evan’s suggestion better than mine: cut him out entirely. Compounded with the fact that, like Evan so astutely pointed out, none of the villains seem to pose any real threat for the heroes, this guy’s power seems to be “giving up faster than a speeding bulet”. Definitely siding with Evan all the way here: get rid of all the villains who only show up as one-punch fodder and have the Regulators fight one big threat together – preferably Kraken. You could even use the fight to underline their lack of team cohesion under Aurelius, showing them more hindered by their own inner bickering than by the villain.

  2. “I’m not so old that I can’t appreciate beauty, right? (TJ: I’m having a bit of a problem with all of the name dropping. You’ve got 10 brand new chracters you’re trying to introduce in the script, with the challenge of sussing out heroes from villains, and you’re also dropping names of characters who aren’t here. Might be too confusing to readers. I get you’re trying to establish a larger world/context, but could get you in trouble.)”

    Tyler brings up a very interesting point: how much introduction is too much for an introductory story?

    Last month saw DC Comics start 52 new comics at the same time so we got to see 52 beginnings. Some of them hit the ground running, maybe too fast and completely lost the potential new reader. Others spent so much time in prologuing that they bored newcomers and veterans alike. And there were the precious few (shout out to Mr. S.) who succeeded in reaching a perfect balance in painting a background and telling a story. Whatever the results, it was a fascinating case study on how to start a new series.

    In the case of Steven’s script, we have a huge cast of new characters and a plot that’s bouncing around trying to touch all bases in the space of 9 pages. I would strongly suggest, as Tyler did, to concentrate the narative on one character. Through the eyes of this character, you could present the world you’ve built and the other characters who inhabit it. More specifically, I think Aurelius would make a great POV character: his feeling of inadequacy towards his team, his comparing with ex-leader Martial and the burden of upholding order in a world that fears and hates himwould be made all the more poignant and meaningful as seen through his eyes.

    By doing this, you’d limit the scope of your first issue, strenghten the narrative and engage the reader more.

    • First, I want to thank Yannick, Tyler, and Evan once again for stepping up and helping me out with this week’s installment. This column lives and dies with all of you, and that was proved once again today. Thanks!

      This script is about six years old. It shows! I winced at lot when I was going through it before I sent it off. But I also figured it would be good to show that I was nowhere as good as I thought I was when I wrote it.

      For reasons I won’t go into here, I can’t take Yannick’s advice of using Aurelius as the narrative character. While I like he character, doing as Yannick suggests would make this Aurelius’ story, and it isn’t.

      These nine pages are a failure. I tried to do too much with too little space: character intro’s, some world building, a fight, some drum-beating of the premise. Too much. It was very inelegant.

      But, we all learn over time. I just hope I’ve learned enough to do the premise justice.

  3. Evan Windsor says:

    I had a lot of fun being on the other side of this one! I felt like I wrote a lot of notes, but then I saw what Yannick added, and felt a little better.

    It was interesting to see the three different editors and how they all focused on different things. There are points all three of us hit on, which was nice to sort of see visually the points that are the big bad problems; but also by having all three of us edit it, there is a nice base of critique across the whole thing. There are parts Tyler and Yannick pointed out that are spot on and I wouldn’t have noticed on my own.

    I’m not sure if this experiment has any big conclusion that can be reached, but dang, interesting read.

    But worry not! I’ll be back on the receiving end soon! I’ve got about 4 scripts in various stages of completion, and I’m gonna try to get one finalized and sent in before next week’s column.

    • “I felt like I wrote a lot of notes, but then I saw what Yannick added, and felt a little better.”

      Well dang! Did you expect anything less but an essay from me? :P

      But seriously, I agree qwith you: this was a fascinating experiment, if only to see that it takes a lot of experience to properly edit a script.

      We all said some things that intersected with what others pointed out. We also managed to each find things that eluded the others. (As i was reading this morning, I ketp going “Oooo, didnt see THAT!”) All in all, each of us probably haven’t caught more than a third of the total “points of interest” in the script. We also all had our specialties: Tyler brought his know-how of industry practices and art while you and I quibbled about story. A real editor has to wear all those hats.

      So I take mine off to Steven for the outstanding job he’s done for 40 consecutive Proving Grounds. You like to say this column lives and dies with us, but you’re the one who gives it a reason to live.

  4. Conner MacDonald says:

    Great job guys.

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