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TPG Week 83: Use Your Powers For Good Instead Of…

| July 27, 2012

Hello, one and all, and welcome to another installment of The Proving Grounds. This week, we have another Brave One in the form of Justin Kane. Again, and from now on, I just want to remind you that the notes in blue are Steve Colle, and I’m in the red font of doom. Now, let’s see if Justin will truly leave us

 

Wanting More

By

Justin Kane

(Great title with multiple meanings. Great stuff!)

Basically, this is a title page. Justin had all of his contact info here: name, physical address, phone number, and email addy. He probably used a program such as Final Draft in order to do this. I have no issues with that. For privacy purposes, I stripped that info from the script.

PAGE 1 (5 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Eye-level, establishing shot of a motel complex from the end of the pool(reference pic here). We see two levels of rooms in the background and on the left in the panel. Take away the fence between the pool and rooms, so it’s just concrete. This panel should be loud, with lots of movement and yelling from both kids and parents. In the foreground, six children of varying ages splash in the water. Three unsightly, overweight adults sunbathe on white chairs beside the pool. In the background, across the pool, we see the landlord walking Ian and Emily toward the rooms on the left. (Just state for the artist to refer to the character descriptions attached in a separate file.)

1 LANDLORD

It’s eleven. Second level.

2 SPLASHING KID

Ahhh!

3 POOLSIDE MOTHER

Brandon! Get out the pool!

4 SPLASHING TEEN

Marco!

PANEL 2

A high-angle shot from the top of the stairs, looking down at the bottom level. We see rooms on the left and the pool activity to the right. The landlord is halfway up the stairs, facing us. He climbs achingly, clenching the rail. Four young black boys, with their backs to us, are running past him, toward Ian and Emily. The boys are wearing swim trunks, and carrying beach towels. The old man, unaffected by the stampede, uses his free hand to dig in the pocket of his cardigan. Ian and Emily stand at the bottom of the stairs, giving room for the boys. Ian puts his left arm out, in front of Emily. She clutches her purse with both hands.

1 LANDLORD

Unh. I tell ya, Miss Emily–Ehh…

(Pretty good use of sounds to express his exhaustion, but I’d move the second sound of “—Ehh–“ to between “Miss” and “Emily,…” for better effect.)

2 LANDLORD

…I didn’t know Mr. Barker had any family. How ’bout kids?

3 EMILY

No. Sharon was adamantly against having any Little Eddies. Probably a cover-up.

PANEL 3

Medium shot of the three walking down the upper-level corridor, toward us. Doors are on the left, and railing on the right (pic here). The old man is in the foreground, a few steps ahead of the couple. He has pulled a key from his pocket and holds it firmly in his hand. He’s smiling at Emily’s comment, though she looks serious. Ian and Emily walk hand in hand, just a few steps behind the old man. Emily is closest to the railing. Ian is giving a slight smile, but the couple is still wearing their sunglasses, so we don’t see much emotion.

1 EMILY (SMALL) (This is called an aside, so you can state it as such next to the word SMALL above.)

Bet that woman’s womb is nothing but dust and gravel.

2 IAN

Eddie’s ex.

3 LANDLORD

Ah.

PANEL 4

We’re still looking down the corridor. In the foreground, on the left, we see the side of the landlord’s hand holding the key in the lock. In the background, Ian and Emily are waiting, facing us. Ian is holding his sunglasses at his V-neck, where he is about to hang them on his collar. He is looking to his left at Emily. Emily has moved her glasses on top of her head. She simultaneously wipes the tears from both of her eyes.

1 LANDLORD

Eleven.

2 IAN

You okay?

3 EMILY

I just can’t believe I’m doing this.

4 EMILY

What’s getting to me is…If I didn’t, who would’ve?

PANEL 5

We’re inside the dark room, looking toward the opened door. It provides our main source of light (pic here, another here of the apartment backwards). It should be somewhat untidy, with dirty dishes and bills on the counter, papers and clothes scattered around the floor (not extremely messy, but not tidy). The landlord stands aside, holding out one arm, signaling for the couple to enter first. Emily stands in the doorway with Ian behind her. She’s hesitant to enter.

(No Copy)

We have P1 down, and I’m liking the visualization here. Justin has made sure that the artist knows what he’s looking for by being clear in his descriptions as well as giving reference pics. No complaints about that at all.

As for the dialogue, while there isn’t a lot of it, it is serving the purpose of drawing us into the story. I’m interested to know a bit more, and since this is P1, this is an outstanding win! Let’s see what happens on P2.

PAGE 2 (7 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Wide shot from above the kitchen countertop(pic here), facing the entranceway and bathroom. On the counter, there are a couple of plastic bags, a small stack of bills, and a pile of pills with a weekly pillbox(pic here). The landlord stands at the doorway, his hand is on the light switch to his right (not in reference pic), so the lights are on now. Ian’s side is to us. He looks into the unlit bathroom. Emily stands further ahead of Ian. She’s looking toward us, setting her handbag on the countertop. She looks frustrated by the landlord’s comment and the mess of the room.

1 LANDLORD

I hate bringing it up–

2 EMILY

But?

3 LANDLORD

Mr. Barker fell behind on his payments.

4 EMILY(SMALL) (Aside)

Of course he did.

PANEL 2

Landlord’s POV. He stands in the doorway and watches Emily and Ian in the apartment. Emily’s side is to us. She stands beside the kitchen counter and looks at a bill she’s holding. Ian’s back is to us, but his head is turned around toward Emily. He is standing further away in the apartment.

1 EMILY

Ian’ll be down soon.

2 EMILY

He can settle up then.

3 LANDLORD

You take all the time you need.

PANEL 3

Reverse-angle shot, with Emily in the foreground, and the landlord in the background, standing in the doorway, facing us. Emily’s side is to us. She’s standing at the counter, holding up two bills from the stack. She reads one credit card statement(pic here), that shows $18,452 of debt, and holds the other bill to her side. Several envelopes in the bill stack are posted “Second Notice” or “Final Notice.”

1 LANDLORD

Edward seemed like a good guy…

2 EMILY(SMALL) (Aside)

Christ.

3 LANDLORD

…I’ll leave you to it.

PANEL 4

Wide shot of Ian facing us, standing with his arms crossed. He’s looking over the living room/bedroom area(pic here), while Emily continues working in the kitchen, in the background. The door is now shut. Her side is to us, but she’s turned her head to look at Ian. We see more of the living area–The unmade bed, TV dinner trays stacked on the bedside table, and at the foot of the bed is a large (about the size of a mini-fridge), open cardboard box. Beside the box is packing paper, and a bizarre machine. It is a male enhancement device, but that shouldn’t be obvious. I imagine a fusion of the objects in the pics here, here, and here(have fun).

1 EMILY

Edward, a good guy? He’s one of the most selfish–

2 IAN

Okay, M! That’s your brother.

(Here’s where the nickname “Em” would work better for the reader.)

PANEL 5

Medium shot, ground level on the device. Ian stands in front of it, with his back to us, so we only see the lower half of his body. Here the device should be shown in more detail(pressure gauge, hose, and a pull cord starter).

1 EMILY(OFF) (Off-Panel or OP)

What is that thing?

2 IAN

Your guess is good as mine.

PANEL 6

Profile of Ian, kneeling in front of the machine. He taps the screen of the pressure gauge.

IAN

Respirator? Did Eddie have breathing issues?

PANEL 7

High-angle shot facing Emily. She pulled a small trashcan out from the bottom cabinet. She grips the can in one hand, and uses her other to wipe the pile of pills off the counter, into it.

1 EMILY

I don’t know. (Is it necessary to say “I don’t know” twice?)

2 EMILY

I don’t know what he had.

 

And with P2 down, we also get something weird going on. It doesn’t happen all that often.

So, P1 has five panels, and P2 has seven. However, P2 seems to drag a bit. Not a lull before the storm, but just a dip, because we’re investigating the new surroundings. I’m a bit bored, because I know that something interesting should be happening, and we just haven’t gotten there yet.

I’m a bit bored, but I’m not uninterested. The mysteries are helping to keep my interest, as is the dialogue.

So far, and I know it’s only P2, but so far, the dialogue is really selling this. I can easily see this as a conversation between 2-3 people. It seems real. These people have personality, which isn’t something you see in a lot of comics. Most of the time, characters are just cardboard cutouts, waiting to say their lines. I’m not getting that feeling here at all. Nice work, Justin!

PAGE 3 (6 PANELS)

 

PANEL 1

Medium shot facing the living room from the kitchen. Ian’s in the background; he’s facing us, moving toward Emily. Emily’s in the foreground, facing us. She leaned back against the counter and has started crying. Her head is down. The trashcan sits on the floor beside her.

IAN

Hey.

PANEL 2

Close shot. Ian’s side is to us, he standing by Emily with his arm around her. He’s put his head close to hers. She’s still facing us. Tears roll down her cheeks.

1 EMILY (Sobbing)

I just wish he’d called or said something.

2 IAN

Maybe he didn’t wanna be a burden?

3 EMILY (Sobbing)

We used to be best friends.

PANEL 3

Low-angle shot from the countertop. Ian and Emily’s sides are to us, they’re hugging. Emily’s facing the door, but Ian is looking toward us. In the foreground, on the counter is the stack of bills. Ian’s focused on a particular bill that’s sticking out from under the stack. He looks disturbed. (When you say they are hugging, do you mean face-to-face or him behind her, because both work well for the scene?)

EMILY (Sobbing)

What happened to us?

PANEL 4

We’re looking over the back of the bill Ian’s holding, and at his shocked/horrified face. He’s still hugging Emily, but all of his attention is on the bill.

(No Copy)

PANEL 5

Medium shot from the bedroom area. The top of strange machine is in the foreground. Ian and Emily are still hugging, with their sides to us. Ian is looking toward the machine; he still has a worried look on his face. (The reader will never know what the machine is unless they see the words describing it, which wouldn’t be a good idea to be so direct. That being said, it’s obviously important to the scene, so let it stand as an unknown.)

EMILY (SMALL) (Aside)

It’s sad, someone facing that all alone.

PANEL 6

Close on Ian’s hand behind Emily’s back. He has crumpled the bill in his clenched fist. (If he were behind her, he could be hiding and crumpling the paper lower down so she won’t hear it as loudly and wonder what he’s doing.)

1 IAN

I’m sure he had his reasons.

 

P3, and the weirdness continues.

 

Look at it like this: we know what’s going on from a scripting standpoint, because we’re actually looking at the mechanics of the thing. Now, take that and flip it: the reader doesn’t know what’s going on. There’s enough here to keep reader interest, but there isn’t enough in the imagery to explicitly state what’s going on.

 

Here is what we know that the reader knows:

 

Edward Barker is dead.

Em (that’s the only name we’re given so far) is his sister. They used to be close, but not anymore.

Ian is Em’s husband/boyfriend/homeyloverfriend.

Eddie died, leaving a lot of debt behind.

There’s a strange machine in the room.

 

Questions the reader may/will consider:

Was Eddie an older or younger brother?

What is the machine in the room?

What happened to make the sibling estranged?

Why is Ian defending Eddie to his sister?

In what state was Eddie found (besides being dead).

How recent was his death?

What did he die of?

 

A lot of these are questions that are swirling in the reader’s head, and I’m hoping we get some answers.

 

As for the names, I really, really like the way Justin has included them for the reader to see. It’s very organic. All of the information presented is done organically. There is no 7th Heaven Hammer here (I hated that show—it got its message across as elegantly as Superman punching a walrus.). There’s some good work here, Justin. You’re keeping reader interest. Let’s see if it continues, and let’s get the story moving a little bit more.

PAGE 4 (3 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Large Panel. Establishing shot of an office break room (reference pics here, here, and here). In the background, we see office tables, countertops, a refrigerator, etc. We’re facing a dozen employees, gathered around an office table, where their boss (Harry) crouches over his cake to blow out his candles. Harry’s side is to us. Our main character, Eddie, stands silently among the group. He’s sweating and looks depressed. His arms hang by his side. Donald is standing to Eddie’s right. He looks bored, but he is singing. Patrice and the three women are also in the group. Think NBC’s “The Office.” There should be diversity, with various ethnicities and body types.

1 CAPTION

One Month Earlier (Don’t forget your ellipsis marks here, where it works better than a period, which you don’t have either.)

2 GROUP(SINGING)

Happy Birthday to you! (Stretch out the words to make it sound like the last part of the song.)

PANEL 2

Side shot on the group standing in a row, facing Harry. Harry’s back is to us. Eddie’s profile in the foreground. We should see him in more detail (wrinkles, gray temples, jowl lines, etc.) He winces, irritated by Billy’s singing. Billy is seen in the background, holding his arm out and singing “opera-style.” Harry is bent over, with his back to us, blowing out the candles.

1 DOOFUS BILLY (SINGING)

Annd maneeey mooooooorrrrrre!

2 EDDIE (SMALL) (Aside)

Jeezus.

PANEL 3

Medium shot of Harry standing in front of the cake table, facing us. Three women from the group are now surrounding him. Woman #1 is to the left, cutting a piece of cake and making a kiss face at Harry. Woman #2 is beside Harry, slipping a note in his pocket and whispering into his ear. Woman #3 is behind Harry, grabbing his butt.

1 WOMAN #2(SMALL) (Whisper)

A little something for this weekend.

2 WOMAN #2(SMALL) (Whisper)

Can’t wait.

(There’s a difference in how a whisper and an aside are represented, even though they may both be small in sound. An aside can be a regular sized balloon with smaller font size, while the whisper has the broken lines to represent the balloon. Be sure to make that distinction.)

 

And now, the flashback. I was wondering if it would make an appearance, and here it is.

 

Take a look at the flashback, when it appears, how it appears, and what it’s doing.

 

So, we’re on P4, right? That means we’re at a page turn. This helps to disconnect one scene from another, while at the same time acting as a bridge. Nice, right?

 

How does it appear? Like normal. There’s nothing here in the notes to say to make it look different, and I think that’s important. I think that it can pull off the flashback without anything special or different going on with the borders, art, or coloring. All it needs is the caption.

 

What is it doing? It is giving some background and context for what Em and Ian have walked into.

 

The problem?

 

The readers don’t know who Eddie is. And even worse, it could look like Harry is the one who’s the brother instead of who it is. Since there are no captions that label anyone, it could be misleading. More than likely, it will be misleading.

PAGE 5 (8 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Wide shot from behind Eddie and Donald. They stand at the back of the line leading to the cake. They’re watching Harry and the three ladies walk to a table in the left of the panel. Harry and the ladies each carry a plate of cake. Donald stands to Eddie’s right. His back is to us, but we see the side of his face, as he turns his head to talk to Eddie.

1 DONALD

Boy knows how to work ’em…Young things climbin’ all over. He acts like he don’t even care.

2 DONALD

Wish I had it that easy.

3 EDDIE

He’s got a few more years in him. Then, he’ll be a fat old man, just like us.

PANEL 2

Medium shot looking down the line of people waiting on cake. It’s an angled shot, so the people standing in front of Donald and Eddie don’t block our view of the two (something like the pic here). (You didn’t include a description of Donald’s insulted facial expression or Eddie’s retaliation.)

1 DONALD

Us!?

2 EDDIE

Yeah, us.

3 DONALD

Shit! I still got somethin’ worth swingin’.

4 DONALD

I’m just sayin’, now, I gotta do a little more work to get mine.

(Comma-fail, as it should read as one flowing commentary “I’m just sayin’ now,” without the comma before “now”.)

PANEL 3

Side shot. One last person is in front of Eddie and Donald, cutting his piece of cake. Patrice stands beside the table, holding a plate of cake out for Donald. Patrice is smiling at Donald, but ignoring Eddie. Donald is holding the other side of the plate and smiling back. Eddie gives a sarcastic half-smile with one eyebrow raised.

1 PATRICE

I got somethin’ for ya, Donny.

2 DONALD

I see that, Baby. You too good.

(I can understand him saying “Yer too good” without food or “You too good” if he had food in his mouth. Which would it be? Is she feeding him a piece and he’s talking with a full mouth?)

3 EDDIE

Thanks, Patrice…

4 PATRICE

Sorry, Ed, din’t see ya.

(This should still read “didn’t” for ease of reading.)

PANEL 4

Close-up, Birds-Eye-View. A knife sits, buried in the cake that partially read “Happy Birthday, Harry.”

(No Copy)

PANEL 5

Medium shot on Eddie and Donald sitting across from each other, at one of the tables in the break room. Eddie is talking, while Donald downs a very big bite of cake. Eddie is getting more heated and looking sweatier.

1 EDDIE

What about guys like me?

2 EDDIE

We put on a little more weight, lose our boyish looks, and suddenly, we become invisible. (This kind of repeats the “Didn’t see ya” said by Patrice above. It doesn’t need reiteration. Can he say something different, such as “and suddenly, we’re dirt”, to play up his sweatiness and self-sense of filthiness?)

PANEL 6

Donald’s POV. He is looking past Eddie, at Patrice in the background. She’s sitting at another table with two other women. Patrice is facing us, waving at Donald. Eddie looks down at his last bite of cake, stabbing it with his fork. He looks mopey.

1 EDDIE

Sharon left and I thought, now’s my turn to play…

2 EDDIE

…Pfft. Play with myself—

(Double dash for immediacy at the beginning of this line, with ellipsis marks at the end as it trails off. And yes, you can change up the ellipsis/double dash relationship such as “WAIT! I GOTTA GET –“ and followed directly by “… hold it. What did I need to get?” Use it to your advantage.)

 

3 DONALD

Humph! Cough. (“Humph!” sounds like he was insulted, which he wasn’t. “ACK! KOFF!” is the proper way of expressing it. And you’ll notice the spelling of KOFF instead of the literal spelling of cough.)

PANEL 7 (INSET)

Close-up, straight on Patrice. She’s giving a seductive look and licking the cake off her fork.

DONALD(OFF) (Off-Panel or OP)

Cough! My God! Cough!

(KOFF! My God! KOFF!)

PANEL 8

Close facing Eddie. He’s scratching his eyebrow with his middle finger, obviously shooting the bird at Donald.

1 DONALD(OFF) (Off-Panel or OP)

Cough. Cough. Cough.

(KOFF! KOFF! KOFF!)

2 EDDIE

Screw you, Donald!

 

Okay, so P5 has 8 panels. I was going to jump on you for an 8-panel page, but when I saw that one of them was an inset, then I understood, and it’s okay. (Just remember, folks, 8 panels on a page is generally a no-man’s land. The inset offset that, so there’s no worries there.)

 

This page, we finally find out who Eddie is. So, that’s a mystery solved. (I just heard Inspector Clouseau in my head, saying solvéd. The real one: Peter Sellers. Anyway…)

 

Know what else we have? Characters who are saying things which their actions don’t reflect. All that coughing? We don’t see Don do the action once. That’s a no-no.

 

And we also are being shown things that, as yet, have no apparent reason for being. If this is a story about Eddie, why are we seeing women accost/being suggestive to everyone but him? I mean, we’re being shown panels of it. Just so that he can make his speech? Meh. A bit of overkill, methinks. Let’s get on with it. We’re in the flashback for a reason. Don’t meander about so long with it.

PAGE 6 (6 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Side shot of Eddie and Donald at the table. Donald is looking down and wipes his hands with his napkin. Eddie holds his hands up like he’s asking Donald to stop. He’s tightly shut his eyes and wincing as if the mental image is actually causing him pain. (Whose eyes are tightly shut, Eddie or Donald? I’m assuming it’s Donald, but should I be guessing?)

1 DONALD

Listen, us old men, we gotta find something to make us stick out.

2 DONALD

Me…I got a great, big pair of chocolate balls, and the ladies love to see ’em—(Ellipsis, not double dash, unless he’s being interrupted by Eddie.)

3 EDDIE

C’mon man! (Comma-fail, as it’s needed between these words.)

PANEL 2

Eddie’s POV of Harry’s table in the background and the half of Donald’s face in the foreground. Donald looks serious.

1 DONALD

Harry don’t need that. The man’s got money, power, a nice car. Women eat that up.

2 DONALD

You gotta find your thing, Eddie. Being a fat, middle-aged white dude… (Comma-fail after “dude” and before ellipsis.) (No. It’s correct as it is.)

3 DONALD

…that just makes you normal.

(Underline “that” for emphasis.)(I disagree. Leaving it the way it is lets the reader put the stress where they want. I could read it with “that” being stressed, or with “normal” being stressed. Leaving it neutral lets me choose where I want it, instead of “hearing” it differently and then making the assumption that the writer is “wrong.”

PANEL 3

Wide shot with Harry and Woman #2’s backs to us, and the other two women at the table facing us. Woman #2’s hand is resting on Harry’s upper thigh. In the background, between the women, is Donald and Eddie’s table. Donald’s back is to us, but Eddie is facing us. He’s staring enviously across the room at Harry’s table.

1 DONALD

What do you got, Eddie?

(There are a couple of ways of writing this line better for more immediacy and flow. “What d’ya got?” or “Whaddayagot?” makes it sound more like Donald’s slang. You decide.)

PANEL 4

Medium shot. Donald’s back is to us. Eddie faces us. He’s looking sicker and more sweaty (pit stains). He continues to stare at Harry’s table, while rubbing the side of his face.

1 EDDIE

I don’t have a clue.

2 EDDIE

I’m still payin’ for the divorce, drive a Corolla, ’bout twenty-five pounds past overweight, and sitting on my ass forty hours a week, just to get in a tax bracket high enough for the government to kick me in the balls–

PANEL 5

Close-up on Donald with a matter of fact look on his face. He holds up one finger to interject.

DONALD

Average-sized balls.

PANEL 6

Side shot of Eddie and Donald at their table. Patrice has walked up and stands between Eddie and Donald, facing us. Donald is laughing, with his head hung down, and handing his plate off to Patrice. She’s reaching out to take Donald’s plate, while looking over at Eddie. Eddie has pulled back from the table a little, and wipes his hand across his sweaty brow.

1 PATRICE

Can I take your plate?

2 DONALD

Ha ha ha.

3 DONALD

Yes, you may.

4 PATRICE

Listen to that…

 

I’m getting bored with the conversation. It’s well written, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Why is that, Justin?

 

We’re three pages into the flashback, with no hint of coming out of it anytime soon. What have we established so far? That Eddie is sickly looking, and has a friend with a strong opinion about getting laid in his middle age.

 

That’s not enough to retain reader interest. And, it almost sounds like preaching. I like to preach. Get me started on why the Black man in America should be angry, or why there’s no real feeling of community anymore, and I can go on for pages. Lots of them. And they’d probably be more interesting than this.

 

Also, I like the way you restated his name, to help cement who’s who in the readers’ minds. That’s important. When you’re writing the script, it is VERY easy to not-state a character’s name, because you’ve been typing it/seeing it all the time, and you forget that the reader can’t see the label for the balloon.

 

Good work here, but stop boring us. Let’s get this moving.

 

PAGE 7 (7 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Medium shot. Eddie faces us. He’s turned his body toward Patrice and is now holding his stomach with one hand. He looks like he’s in pain. Patrice’s large backside is to us(only half of it is in the panel), her left hand is resting on her hip.

1 PATRICE

…Isn’t he tha sweetest thing, Eddie?

(Why is Patrice speaking properly in some dialogue and saying “tha” here?)

2 PATRICE

You don’t look so good, honey. You feelin’ okay?

PANEL 2

Low-angle shot. Eddie faces us. He remains seated but is bent over, spewing cake-vomit onto Patrice’s shoes.

1 EDDIE

“Braaaggghhh”

2 PATRICE

Uhn-uh! (You used “unh” earlier. Is this supposed to be a similar sound?)

PANEL 3

Wide shot. Eddie’s sitting with his side is to us. He is hunched over, with throw up running down his shirt and onto the floor. Patrice’s side is to us. She looks shocked and disgusted. She’s thrown her arms into the air. Donald is still sitting, with his fist clenched over his mouth. In the background, we see Harry’s table. Harry and Woman #2 are facing us, and the other girls have turned around to see the incident at Eddie and Donald’s table.

1 PATRICE

Awww!

2 WOMAN #3

Gross!

PANEL 4

Close, facing Woman #2 as she holds her hand over her mouth.

WOMAN #2

Uhngh, I’m gonna be sick.

(Try to stick with familiar words such as “Ugh” instead of inventing new ones.)

PANEL 5

Medium shot. Harry and Woman #2 are still sitting. Woman #2 has turned her body away from Harry, toward us. She’s hunched over, throwing up. She’s tried to catch it in her hand, but it’s running through her fingers. Behind Woman #2, Harry faces us but leans back from the table. He has a very disgusted look on his face.

1 WOMAN #2

Eecckkhh.

2 HARRY

Oh!

 

PANEL 6

Medium on Eddie leaning on the table. In the foreground, we see the edge of Patrice’s butt and her hand pointing down toward her shoes. Eddie’s facing us, but he’s looking down, ashamed. He’s wiping the vomit from his chin.

1 PATRICE

Look whatcha did, Eddie!

2 PATRICE

S’wat happens when you eat half the damn cake! (Write the word “what” in “S’what” for clearer reader recognition.)

PANEL 7

Close shot on Woman #2 slumped over into her seat. She’s looking over at us (and Eddie). She has spit/vomit running down her bottom lip and tears in her eyes, but she looks fierce.

WOMAN #2

Fuck you, Eddie Barker.

 

P7, 7 panels, and most of it dedicated to puking. Movement? Yes. But is it movement that is germane to the story? That we’ll see. But it doesn’t smell like puke to me. To me, it’s smelling of elderberries… Just saying…

PAGE 8 (8 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Establishing shot of a small motel bathroom (reference pic here). We’re facing the fogged shower curtain, Eddie’s silhouette is seen standing under the faucet. Dirty throw-up/cake clothes are piled on the floor beside the toilet.

(No Copy)

PANEL 2

Medium shot. Eddie stands in the shower with his head hanging low. His backside is to us, revealing his hairy back and butt, and his plump physique.

(No Copy)

PANEL 3

Close up. Side shot of water running down Eddie’s head. He is looking down. He’s upset, disgusted by himself.

EDDIE

Pitiful.

PANEL 4

(Larger) Establishing shot of Eddie’s motel room (pic here) during the night. We’re in the back corner with Eddie’s TV against the wall on the left, and his bed against the wall on the right. A pay-per-view selection screen is on (reference here). Eddie’s sitting on his bed, facing the television (his side is to us). He’s naked, wearing only reading glasses. His laptop covers his privates. Both hands hang mid-air over the keyboard, he’s in the midst of chicken typing. On Eddie’s bedside table are two empty TV dinner trays.

SFX(KEYBOARD)

Tik. Tik. Tik.

PANEL 5

Close on Eddie’s laptop monitor. His credit card statement summary is on the screen (similar to reference pic here). It’s not important to see everything he’s been spending his money on, just that he’s made lots of frivolous purchases. We should see his name “Eddie Barker” and a list of random purchases (fast-food parodies like “McRonalds” and “Burger Prince”, Motel Room, pay-per-view). At the bottom we see Eddie total debt is $14,720 in red.

(No Copy)

PANEL 6

Close up. Looking over the back of Eddie’s laptop. He’s facing us, but looking down at the screen. The glow of the laptop accentuates the lines of his face. He squints through his eyeglasses, struggling to make out the page. His mouth hangs open slightly.

(No Copy)

PANEL 7

Extreme close-up on Eddie’s online statement. $14,720 in red.

(No Copy)

PANEL 8

Side shot of Eddie sitting on the bed. His head is down. His laptop is closed. One of Eddie’s hands grips his eyeglasses and rests on his closed laptop. Eddie’s other hand rubs his brow.

(No Copy)

Okay, so we’ve got eight panels on P8. Again, that weird no-man’s land that I spoke about earlier. Basically, you’ve got one of three choices, Justin: cut a panel, add a panel, make one of these an inset. Personally, I’d cut a panel.

But what do we have here? We have a page turn, and with that page turn, we’ve jumped to another location. Nice break to bridge the jump and move forward.

But do we really need three panels on him in the shower? Especially the second one? I think that’s the one to cut.

I’m liking the basically silent page, though. It’s working. It’s lending more gravitas to the story. Sometimes, words aren’t needed, and this is one of those times. Good work, there.

I’m also liking that the story has moved forward some. Still in the flashback, and I’m still wondering what’s going on, and hoping we’ll get there sometime before I grow another gray hair on my head.

PAGE 9 (6 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Eddie’s POV. His hand grasps the remote in the foreground. In the middle ground, we see his bare feet sticking up (hairy with long toe nails). In the background, we see Eddie’s pay-per-view (reference pic here). He selected a program called “Meat Market Sluts.” The “purchase” button is highlighted.

(No Copy)

PANEL 2

Close-up on Eddie’s TV screen. The beginning of his porn rental is playing. Establishing shot of the interior of a small meat market (reference pics here, here, here and here). Various cuts of meat and carcasses are sitting in the display case/counter and hanging from hooks in the ceiling. Behind the counter, on the right is a closed swinging door that leads to a back area. Debbie and Stacy are both dressed scantily, standing at the counter, with their backs to us. Debbie is on the left; Stacy’s on the right.

1 STACY(ELEC) (Specify the entire word “Electric” when identifying how a balloon should be shaped. Don’t let the letterer guess. Be direct.)(The letterer isn’t guessing, because that’s the only thing elec means.)

OMG! This place is filled with meat.

2 DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

Just the way I like it.

PANEL 3

Straight on facing Eddie. He’s no longer wearing his glasses, so he’s squinting and leaning forward, trying to make out the television.

EDDIE(SMALL) (As mentioned before, there’s a difference between an aside and a whisper. Clarify which this is for your letterer. Look at his next statement for a clue.)

Damn.

PANEL 4

On TV. OSS with the girls’ backs to us. Debbie is looking to her right at Stacy. Stacy’s looking over the counter at the obese, slightly-bloody, butcher(he should resemble Eddie) walking through the backdoor, toward us. The butcher is sweaty, and his mouth hangs open. He’s carrying a large platter of cut sausage(pic here).

1 BUTCHER(ELEC) (Electric)

Can I help you?

2 STACY(ELEC) (Electric)

Looks like you got a real sausage-party goin’ on here.

3 DEBBIE(ELEC,SMALL) (Electric aside, as you can’t have both electric and whisper done properly.)

Stacy! You are so bad.

4 EDDIE(OFF) (Aside)

Fat-ass doesn’t stand a chance.

PANEL 5

On TV. Medium shot from behind the counter, the butcher’s back is to us. He’s bending over, showing some butt-crack, and setting the plate of sausage in the display case. A little to the right, Stacy and Debbie stand seductively on the opposite side of the counter. Stacy’s leaning forward, looking through the display case, revealing some cleavage. Debbie’s biting her bottom lip and curling her hair around one finger. Behind the girls we see the glass storefront with more displayed meat.

1 DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

My friend and I are looking for a big piece of meat.

2 EDDIE(OFF) (Off-Panel or OP aside)

I betchu are.

3 DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

Got one?

4 BUTCHER(ELEC) (Electric)

Ehh…How about a juicy kielbasa?

PANEL 6

On TV. From behind the glass display case. The plate of sausages sits in the foreground. On the other side of the glass, Stacy and Debbie are leaning forward (showing lots of cleavage), looking at the plate. Stacy is giving a bitchy look with one eyebrow raised. Debbie is pointing and laughing at the sausage stacked on the platter, while holding two fingers from her other hand close together showing how “small” it is.

STACY(ELEC) (Electric)

Yeah right! (Comma-fail.)

DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

That’s way too tiny.

 

Okay, we’re on P9, and really, I have to ask: what the hell is this?

 

Why are we watching Eddie as he watches porn? Why are we watching porn before it becomes porn? What is interesting about this in any way, shape, form, or fashion?

 

Not one damned thing.

 

This stopped being interesting right here, on this page. Any and all forward momentum and interest you held just evaporated. No one wants to see him start fapping and possibly have a heart attack—possibly found dead with a Viagra woody. This went from kinda interesting to near-smut, and the readers are no longer going to care, because you haven’t given them any reason to.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a prude. I love me some porn. When I was younger, I wanted to marry (yes, marry) Jeanna Fine and Ashlyn Gere. So, don’t think that I don’t enjoy it. I even enjoy porn comics. I’m just failing to see the reason for the near-smut here. The last minutes of Eddie? This could have been done a LOT differently.

 

Yes, I’m a bit upset. This is a pretty strange turn of a semi-enjoyable story.

PAGE 10 (7 PANELS)

PANEL 1

Close shot facing Eddie. He continues watching the video, while digging in his nose with his thumb (reference here, just in case).

BUTCHER(ELEC,OFF) (Electric OP)

You ladies lookin’ for a special piece of meat?

 

PANEL 2

On TV. Medium shot behind Debbie and Stacy. They’re bent over in front of the meat counter. A large piece of salami sits between the two on a display platter behind the glass (reference pic here). Debbie points her finger at the piece of meat. Directly behind the salami platter, we see the butcher waist down, with the salami conveniently in front of his groin area.

1 DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

That fat salami looks pretty good.

2 STACY(ELEC) (Electric)

You know what that makes me think of?

3 DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

Mmhmm.

PANEL 3

On TV. Butcher POV, close on Stacy (as though the butcher’s leaning over the countertop and looking down at her). Stacy is looking up at us (the butcher). She’s still pointing at the display case, toward the salami. She’s giving a seductive smile.

STACY(ELEC) (Electric)

Got anything bigger than this?

PANEL 4

On TV. Close up facing the sweaty, overweight butcher. He’s got a knot-head, mouth-breather look on his face. (What exactly is a “knot-head, mouth breather look”?)

1 BUTCHER(ELEC) (Electric)

Yeah, I do.

2 SFX(BELOW THE WAIST)

Zzziiip

PANEL 5

Side-by-side with panel six. On TV. Facing Debbie and Stacy, both have very surprised and excited looks on their face. Stacy is licking her upper lip. Debbie holds her hand over her mouth.

STACY AND DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

Oh my god!

PANEL 6

Close up on Eddie’s very surprised, wide-eyed face.

EDDIE (How is Eddie saying this, as an aside, regular balloon, or burst/larger font?)

Oh my god!

PANEL 7

Black with white text.

1 STACY(ELEC) (Electric)

It’s…it’s huge!

1 DEBBIE(ELEC) (Electric)

It’s perfect.

 

 

 

(I really enjoyed your format and the ease in which you wrote your very detailed panel descriptions. Excellent work there. You have a strong ear for dialogue, which makes you an even more valuable writer. Ensure clarity to your letterer with directional notes [such as asides, whispers, electric, and OP’s) and watch how you write certain dialogue, such as Patrice’s mix of clear vs. jumbled spelling. Nice work overall.)

 

Another page of near-smut? Yes, I’m shaking my head.

 

Let’s run this down.

 

Format: Flawless Victory!

 

Panel Descriptions: You know what? While some of them seemed a bit long, and sometimes seemed to drag on for pages, there were hardly ever points where there was confusion. Almost any artist can take this script and draw it, as is. Any parts that are vague would still be drawable, with the artist using their best judgment. This is a very well-written script. Kudos!

 

Pacing: Pacing has a lot of moving parts: how many pages in a scene, how many panels on a page, how much dialogue per panel per page—all of that makes up pacing.

 

The pacing here was done pretty well, until we got to the flashback. Then it just seemed like you were telling another story that didn’t have much to do with the opening, and you continued to drag it out. You were fine, until you decided you liked the fragrance of elderberries so much that you wanted to bathe in them.

 

I’d recommend cutting the last two pages, as well as condensing the entire flashback, so that the point is gotten to a lot faster. You want to keep a reader? Get to the point.

 

Dialogue: I have no problems at all with the dialogue. It all sounds extremely natural—even the porn scene. Like I said before, the dialogue is the best part of this tale. Every character sounds natural, even when making speeches. Good work there.

 

Content: As a reader, I am not left Wanting More. As a script-reader, I was willing to go for the ride because I’m seeing the mechanics of the story, and am privy to things someone reading the comic and just seeing the images isn’t. However, if I were just reading the comic, there isn’t enough here to hold my attention.

 

One thing that bothered me, though, is the butt-squeezing. Almost anyone can file a sexual harassment suit nowadays, without even being the “victim.” If one of the ladies squeezing the butt of one of the guys was upsetting to either Eddie or Don, they could go and file a suit. In most offices, people are smart enough not to grope where they can be seen. The dialogue rang true, but that action didn’t.

 

Also, as a reader, being 10 pages in and still not knowing what the book/story is about is a big no-no.

 

Here’s the thing about slice-of-life stories: they are hard to gain and hold someone’s attention. You have to reward them with being compelling. This was on the cusp, but then failed to gain traction once you got to the flashback.

 

Editorially, I’d need to see how the story ends before I can say more than “P9-10 and condense from P4 on.” I’d need to know what was so interesting that this story had to be told, and if I agreed as to what made it interesting, I’d then ask why you didn’t get to it sooner. You had something, but then it fell apart in that overlong flashback, especially if you were going to continue with the porn scene.

 

You have talent, Justin. That’s abundantly obvious. Now, you just have to use your powers for good instead of boring.

 

And that’s all we have for this week. Check the calendar to see who’s up next!

 

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Category: Columns, 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.

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