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TPG Week 85: Dialogue Has To Say Something

| August 10, 2012

Welcome once again to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Andy Arnott. We also have Steve Colle back in blue! So, let’s get to it, shall we? Let’s see how bad Andy can be in

 

“I PLAY THE BAD GUY”

ISSUE 1

 

PAGE ONE: SPLASH PAGE Medium shot of FRANK standing in front of a metal bulkhead entering in a series of numbers on a pad next to the door. (Example: http://images.theage.com.au/2008/11/13/273996/GreenbierDoor_gallery__509x400-600x400.jpg )

His back is turned toward us and he has about 40 feet of thick electrical wire round up and draped over one shoulder. FRANK looks to be in his mid 50s, black hair, still holding on to his athletic build but has a receding hairline with a widows peak. There a white streaks coming from his temples in his hair. He’s wearing dark grey slacks and suspenders with a white button down shirt.

 

On the floor are two dead Military Police Officers with about 4 feet of cable similar to what FRANK has wound around their necks. We should get the impression that the cable choked them to death like a snake squeezing its prey. Their rifles are lying next to them. (How far away is Frank from the bodies? Depending on the distance, it will help establish in the readers’ minds whether he’s innocent and just an investigator at this point or a direct attacker. The closer he is, the more likelihood of guilt there is in this case.)

 

FRANK (CAP): I never understood the “thrill of the hunt”. It’s annoying, tedious, and all together a waste of time.

 

FRANK (CAP): And they always end up in places like this. Half a mile below the Middle of Nowhere, Kansas (Don’t forget your period at the end of your sentence.)

 

FRANK (CAP): When the target, mark, or victim is found (comma-fail here) they’re always against the ropes. That’s when I can finally get to work.

 

FRANK (CAP): I’m no bully (Another comma-fail) but having the upper hand ain’t a bad thing.

 

TITLE: OLD HEROES

CREDITS: Written by Andy Arnott, Art by [TBA]

 

(It’s only by reading the story that I understood why you had the wire wrapped around the two men’s necks instead of them dying with a broken neck or other form of murder. That said, the wire on Frank’s shoulder doesn’t show a relationship with the wire, which he has. You could have one of two other options utilized instead for better effect: 1) Have the coil of wire loosely around his own neck, like a friendly constrictor not wanting to harm it’s master or 2) have him loosely holding the wire in his right hand. This would lead into a future comment I’ll be making on Page Three.)

 

So, we open with a splash page. This is a tried and true way to start a book: something intriguing happens, or we’re starting in media res (into the middle of things—basically, late in the scene), and the reader has to catch up. Happens all the time. Done right, it is highly effective. Done wrong, and you start the reader off on the wrong foot.

 

Is this done “right?” I don’t know. I’ve only read this page so far. However, I’m intrigued, so I’m leaning toward “done right.”

 

As for the character’s voice, I’m not the hugest fan of it. It’s the first page, and already, it sounds like he’s whining. I’m not a fan of whining at all. However, the good thing about his voice is that it’s distinctive. Granted, no one else has spoken yet, but you can definitely tell it isn’t an omniscient narrator.

 

This is looking good so far. Just clear up the slight vagueness in the description, and this would be good to go.

PAGE TWO: Four panels of the same shot of the hallway behind the bulkhead. It’s dark, underground, slightly claustrophobic, and very military. The walls and floors are in deteriorating condition since they haven’t been kept up in decades. The installation was built in the mid 70s and has been abandoned for two decades. There are all sorts of pipes and wires on the left side. FRANK is further away in each panel as his internal monologue goes on.

 

PANEL 1:

 

FRANK (CAP): I hope Al’s quick about this. Maybe I won’t even have to turn the old screws on him. (I’m assuming that Al is his co-assassin in this hit from the way this is written.)

 

PANEL 2:

 

FRANK (CAP): Not because it’s likely the search team has figured me out by now. I actually still hold a little respect for this guy. (Comma and ellipsis is better here to connect to the “but” which starts the next dialogue.)(Don’t mix punctuation. Easy rule of thumb: never mix punctuation unless it is an exclamation mark and a question mark. And even then, only extremely rarely.)

 

(“This guy” meaning Al as the leader of the search team? You go from plural to singular, making it sound like Al is on the other team.)

 

PANEL 3:

 

FRANK (CAP): (Ellipsis marks) But I have a feeling he’s going to make it harder than it needs to be. (Al is back to being co-assassin?)

 

PANEL 4:

 

FRANK (CAP): What’s the line from that movie? “Some folks you just can’t reach.”

 

P2, and we have something we haven’t seen before in TPG: a place setting in the page header. This is Andy’s personal preference, and as such, I’m not going to ding him on it. Personally, I’d rather he put it in Panel 1, and then we can use scripting shorthand for the rest of the scene, but that is also a personal preference. Neither is right or wrong. What is important is consistency. As long as Andy is consistent with it, I’ll have no problems with it at all.

 

What I’m having a problem with, though, are the captions. Not in what they’re saying, but in the fact that there’s no immediacy to what’s going on. Someone should actually be speaking. Have the reader lean forward instead of sitting back. Engage them. Have them become part of the story by having spoken dialogue, instead of them being told the story, like a child beign told a fairytale.

PAGE THREE: Divided into three panels spanning the width of the page.

 

PANEL 1: Streak of light from the door going most of the width of the page (Do you mean PANEL here instead of PAGE as you’ve established there are three panels?) illuminating a passed out man (AL) tied to a chair. We can’t quite make him out yet. (Have Frank with his arm extended in the fore or background here reaching for the fuse box. You need this as clarity as to who turned on the lights.)

 

SFX: CLICK! CLACK! CLICK! (Wouldn’t each switch make the same sound? If you want to stick with “CLACK”, have that the sound of the light actually turning on as it would have more of a booming sound in that environment.) (No, each switch wouldn’t necessarily make the same sound. I’ve been in plenty of places while I was in the Marine Corps where the light switches didn’t all make the same sound.)

 

FRANK (CAP): I think he bought in to (“into” is one word) the whole superhero thing when the President started handing us medals.

 

PANEL 2: The lights are on now and we see two men in the abandoned storage room. The room is large about the size of a football field. [Near the door FRANK stands near a fusebox having just turned on the lights to the room.](This last sentence establishes my point regarding his arm being up in Panel 1) FRANK has dropped the wire and is rolling up his sleeves as he’s starting to walk towards AL. (Frank doesn’t need to drop the wire to roll up his sleeves. This results in him having to pick it up again before getting to the description of Panel 3. Either have it around his neck as I suggested on Page One or in his hand already, switching over from one hand to the other to roll up the sleeves.) AL sits about 5 yards away tied to a chair. Al is bald, no hair at all, not even eyebrows looks to be in his early 60s. He’s overweight by about 50 lbs or so (so at 5′ 10″ about 270 lbs) wearing golf clothes. It’s okay to go cheesy on AL’s clothes like a Hawaiian shirt or something. (This is an unusually large storage room to only have a man and a chair in it. Is there anything else in it? Anything at all? And what kind of lighting are we talking about?)

 

FRANK (CAP): After a while Dr.Mazur kept Al back at the lab while I still went out being an icon for the USA. My guess is he got used up pretty quickly.

 

PANEL 3: POV is looking over AL’s shoulder as FRANK is taking part of the cable and looping it around one of the large metal supports in the room. We see the other side of the large bulkhead with a secure entry pad on side and the fuse box on the other.

 

FRANK (CAP): When he was on he was really on. One of the very best. Not as good as me (Another comma-fail) but his replacements paled in comparison.

 

And now, at the end of P3, we have a failure of being consistent like we had at the beginning of P1 and P2. The page heading doesn’t contain any location information; instead, it contains layout instructions for the artist. Not good.

 

So, what else is going on here? I’m getting a very strong whiff of elderberries. PADDING! Why? Because there are only three panels on this page, and it doesn’t do much to push the story forward. The three panels could be pretty good (I’m seeing them as as vertical, cascading, instead of horizontal and going the width of the page), but even then, there’s enough space for another two panels.

 

Another way to get the smell of elderberries out is to add more dialogue. There are only three panels on the page, and there’s a single caption in each panel. That means there’s a metric ton of space left to tell more story. Use the space wisely, Andy. This isn’t going to cut it.

 

Also, watch out for combined words. You can break up words into their component parts in order to stress certain aspects of a sentence, but also know that by breaking the words up, you’re also changing the thrust of the sentence. It is helpful to know where and when to do it. That’s where having an editor will help.

PAGE FOUR: 3 PANELS with 1/3 of the page taken by PANEL 1 and PANELS 2 and 3 on the bottom with PANEL 2 going about 2/3 of the way across the page.

 

PANEL 1: AL tied to an institutional metal chair. (Refrence: http://knockoffs.olya.org/wpcontent/uploads/2008/02/metalchair_jayson.jpg). He’s got a puncture wound from a large gauge needle on his neck with a dried streak of blood coming from it. FRANK is next to him bending down slightly to slap him in the face a bit. This should be a shot from the waist up at an angle so we can easily see both men.

 

FRANK

 

Okay, pal! Time to wake up!

You want a cigarette or something?

 

(For the sake of the letterer, when you have dialogue which will appear in two separate balloons, either skip a line between text as you did in a later page or write out (in this case) FRANK again before his next line of dialogue.) (No. For the sake of the letterer and the editor, when you have lines that you want to appear in different balloons, label each balloon.)

 

PANEL 2: Shoulder and head shot of AL waking up with is head halfway up. We notice he has no eyebrows.

 

AL

 

Still don’t smoke.

Buddy.

 

(Same as last comment re: two balloons of dialogue)

 

FRANK

 

Oh yeah.

Bet you will when I light you on fire!

 

(Same again)

 

AL

 

That’s really un-freaking-funny right now, Frank.

 

PANEL 3: Shoulder and head shot of AL again. His head is all the way up now but he’s really groggy.

 

FRANK (Off panel)

 

I can imagine it would be, yeah.

 

FRANK (CAP): He still seems off today. This should be short work.

 

It’s P4, and again with three panels. So, officially, It’s Elderberry Time!

 

We’re four pages in, and my attention is waning. What sounded interesting on the first page is now turning into disinterest. You’ve done in four pages what should have been done in three, meaning you have a whole page of elderberry-stench to contend with. Bad, bad, Andy!

 

These last two pages need to be combined, which gives us three pages. At the end of those three pages, there needs to be a solid reason for the reader to turn the page. Right now, there isn’t one. Know what that means? Book closings and back shelving. That’s not what we want. We want home goings. Give the reader a reason to go home with the book. Combine these two pages, give a reason to turn the page, and let’s continue to march.

 

But as it stands right now, we’re four pages in, and there still isn’t a hint of a story. Just a dash of intrigue, and you’ve spread it too thin. Instead of meat on the bone, we’ve got annoying sauce.

 

Put another way, your pacing is terrible. This is a really fast read.

PAGE FIVE: PANEL 1 acts as a backdrop for the page coming from the larger top section of the page with PANELS 2&3 in the middle row to the right and 3-6 (Should be 4-6) taking up the bottom row.

 

PANEL 1: This is a side view wide shot of the two men with FRANK on the left side so we can get another angle on this room. We see multiple lab tables in the background as we realize the room is now twice as big as we thought before. Far off (the width of a football field away) we see half a large sign that says “RANGES” with the rest of the sign fallen off. FRANK has pulled up a chair similar to AL’s and is going to sit down on it backwards. (Whoa, Nellie! See all that stuff you just named? It’s all magically delicious. First, you describe the room as being 100 yards long/wide. You don’t describe it as containing anything else but Al and the chair. Now, it’s double the space at 200 yards, and is now filled with stuff. That stuff, because it wasn’t described at the earliest possible instance, is magically delicious. Not good.)

 

FRANK

 

You wasted a lot of my time.

 

PANEL 2: Slightly side angle of AL’s head is hanging low. The shot is from the chest up so we can see him slumping in his chair.

 

AL

 

Didn’t think you’d be cool with me bringing your kid over to our side.

 

PANEL 3: Same close up angle but now his head is picked up. He’s trying to appeal to FRANK’s sense of pride.

 

AL

 

She’s good y’know. Took to the old Mazur Method real well. (Comma-fail, first sentence.)

 

PANEL 4: Full shot of FRANK in the chair dead on. He’s frustrated. He doesn’t want to hear this. He holds the back of his neck like it’s sore.

 

FRANK

 

You never had a kid of your own, man.

 

PANEL 5: Close up of AL’s hands that are spread as far apart them being tied up will allow. (Not quite able to visualize this. Are his hands behind him or in front? Are they hidden from Frank? I don’t want to make an assumption here, so clarity needs to prevail.) (What is this panel doing to push the story forward? This panel can be cut, the dialogue moved, and not miss anything. That means this panel is padding.)

 

AL (Off panel)

 

She didn’t take much convincing.

 

PANEL 6: We see a blue arch of electricity between AL’s hands. (And besides showing that Al has powers, what does this panel do? Actually, it does more harm than good. I’ll explain below.)

 

SFX: bzzzz)

 

AL (Off panel)

 

It’s not like you ever had control of her, Frank.

 

P5, and we’re just having a lovely chat between two friends. One is tied to a chair, possibly beaten (I don’t know because you don’t say), and the other is just chair-sitting.

 

I have no idea what we’re doing here, I have no idea why these two are talking like they’re discussing something over tea, and I have no real incentive to continue reading. I mean, what the hell, Andy? What’s going on here?

 

The good thing is that you’ve got six panels here. The terrible thing is that this discussion isn’t doing anything to push along the plot or reveal character. It isn’t doing much of anything at all, except confuse the reader and make them want to put the book back even more.

 

And that display of power? First, as Steve said, you have to define whether or not Al’s hands are in front or in back. I had him pictured with his hands behind him, but what do I know? I’m not the writer. Know what the power display says? That Al is uselessly stupid.

 

Why do I say that? Because if I had electrical powers, there’s no way someone would be able to hold me for long. They’d have to have used a tranquilizer dart, because they wouldn’t be able to get close. The chair had better be of a non-conducting material, as should the bonds. This way, I don’t burn through anything as I’m being held.

 

The blood from the mark on his neck? The reader may not be able to understand that it came from a needle. If they’re friends, as this suggests, then they should be talking about how Al was taken, and being held captive, instead of cryptic convo about children. It really makes it seem like Frank is in on it, because he makes no move to untie Al.

 

This is bad storytelling.

PAGE SIX: Four panels dividing the page but if the background could be the perspective view of PANEL 4 (leaving PANEL 4 with no border) that might look cool.

 

PANEL 1: We’re 40 years in the past. Wide shot looking at the entrance to the elevator at the end of a concrete hall. There are two guards on either end side of the door. There is a group of four people getting inside the elevator one scientist (MAZUR) and three military. MAZUR, a short round Polish scientist in a lab coat, is standing next to COLONEL WORTHEN as the other two MP style soldiers flank them from behind. WORTHEN is in his 60s but still very fit, an old guy you wouldn’t mess with. (All of these people have their backs to us. Not good. This could have been started inside the elevator, or just coming out of it. A shot so that we can see their faces.)

 

(Elevator examples here: http://www.par.com/products/defensenaval/cargoandweaponselevators.php the personel elevator on this page with on open carrige concept would look awesome!)

 

FRANK (Transition) (Transitory Caption)(There’s no need to label the caption “transition” or anything else. As soon as readers see the quotation marks, they’ll know they’re reading a voiceover.): “Control, Al? As I recall (Another comma-fail)control wasn’t my problem.”

 

Transition (Transitory Caption)(Just call this a caption. It’s labeling the timeframe, so the reader now has a point of reference.): 40 Years earlier.

 

COLONEL WORTHEN

 

It’s not the output of the subjects so far that’s the issue here.

 

PANEL 2: Exterior shot of the elevator from the shaft. We should see multiple pipes and wires going down the shaft similar to the tunnel on PAGE ONE but it looks much newer. (Why? What is this shot doing? Not one damned thing.)

 

COLONEL WORTHEN (Off panel)

 

What worries the committee, Dr. Mazur, is (“are” instead of “is”) the methods with which you used to create our weapons.

 

PANEL 3: Inside the elevator. Mazur is agitated by the COLONEL’s accusation. His hands are out as he attempts to add emphasis on his point.

 

DR. MAZUR

 

Colonel Worthen, this is not slapping science, evolution, or nature in the face! (You have 37 words in one balloon here. Take the opportunity to divide it up into two balloons. 20 words is the normal maximum.)(Good advice, but there are also only 4 panels on this page. There should be enough space to hold this balloon. If anything, break out the last sentence into it’s own balloon. This will add the emphasis you want.)What we are doing here is building a weapon, just as we would a gun or a tank. As we built the Atomic Bomb!

 

PANEL 4: Outside the elevator carriage looking down. The carriage is very small at this point. (You can get the same effect of showing them going down by showing an inset panel of the buttons lighting up, showing which sublevel they’re on. That would be better than showing useless panels like these.)

 

DR. MAZUR (Off panel)

 

This is not an abolition of science (Another comma-fail) but a project to protect the United States of America. I will not have my intentions skewed!

 

Flashback, four panels, and another fast-moving page. There aren’t enough words here to keep the reader on the page. Beef it up! Either add words, or add panels. (You could actually stand to add both.)

 

I’m curious as to how long we’re going to be in this flashback, but there’s also this to think about: besides the caption, is there anything else to let the reader know that this is a flashback? Any different coloring or anything different with the borders? Neither of these are strictly necessary since you have the caption labeling what’s going on, but I was just wondering.

 

I’m only continuing because Steve did two scenes. This is already back on the shelves. Not quite dreck, but damned close to it. At least this page attempts to push the story forward some. Not much, but it tries.

 

PAGE SEVEN: This is 3 panels going the width of the page. The first 2 panels are less than a third of the page to give enough room for the big effect in the third panel.

 

PANEL 1: The group is walking down the hall of the underground laboratories of Dr. Mazur. This is a head on shot similar to when we would see Dr. House and his team walk the halls on the TV show House.(What if, like myself, the artist has never seen HOUSE? Be specific, such as a group shot of the four men in full body walking towards the camera, if that’s what you’re trying to get across.) It is similar to the facility we saw earlier in the story but it’s very clean, new, and polished. We see lots of lab staff moving in the backgrounds of these panels. This is a fully functional living facility. (You keep mentioning earlier facilities…I haven’t seen any. Remember, we opened with a guy outside a door. We haven’t been anywhere else. The only other explanation is that this is an excerpt of something else. Otherwise, it’s no good.)

 

DR. MAZUR

 

Everything you have asked of me I continue to accomplish and now you want to pull a rug out from underneath me. (40 words in one balloon. Break it up.) What you fail to understand is that stopping now is not an option. The die has been cast! (Melodramatic much?)

 

PANEL 2: The group continues down a similar hall but now we see a waist up shot of MAZUR and WORTHEN as he continues to lecture the COLONEL.

 

DR. MAZUR

 

There’s no turning back the inevitable consequences (Another comma-fail) no matter how unforeseen. (32 words in one balloon.) You asked for results, not an evaluation of what should have been done. That, Colonel, was the job of your “Committee”!

 

PANEL 3: Hall. (SFX: SMASH!) (Keep your sound effects separate as you would dialogue. You’re assuming that the letterer is going to read the entire script as opposed to just his parts.) Suddenly a steel I beam (I-beam, just for clarity’s sake) has gone through the concrete wall directly between MAZUR and WORTHEN. They are both highly surprised and attempt to brace themselves against the flying object. Don’t be afraid to have debris and characters come out of the panel. The view should be from the side so we can see MAZUR and WORTHEN being separated from each other as the beam comes through the wall.

 

P7 is in the books. Another three-panel page. Kinda like a three hour tour. To be sure, I feel like I’m on the Minnow. I would be the Professor: I know what to do, but I’m trapped like everyone else. (Let’s see who gets the reference! No looking up the answer, either!)

 

The good part about this page is that it isn’t padding. That’s an absolutely GREAT thing. The bad part is that it’s already back on the shelf. Readers never made it past P4, let alone gotten to P7.

 

I’m liking what happens in the third panel. I’m also liking that this is an odd-numbered page, so that panel 3 serves as a nice page turn. Readers will be interested to see where the beam came from. They’ll have to turn the page to get there.

 

I’m also liking the different character voices. Good work, there. I’m not liking the doctor, though. He doesn’t sound technical enough. Something to work on.

 

Now, Steve is right about too many words in a balloon. A balloon should generally contain 20-25 words. You can have as many balloons as a panel can comfortably hold, but don’t have your characters run off at the mouth in a single balloon.

 

At least you’re not leaving it up to the letterer to break up the balloons. That isn’t their job, nor is it the editor’s. It’s yours as the writer.

 

Speaking of the letterer, like Steve said, label the sound effects as their own elements, just as you should the dialogue. And while you’re at it, label the sound effects in the order in which they should be read. If the sound effect is between two pieces of dialogue, then it should go between the two labels. Person A, SFX, Person B. How you want it read is how it should be listed in the script, because that’s the order in which the letterer is going to put it.

PAGE EIGHT: 4 PANEL grid with the first two panels showing WORTHEN ducking under the beam to meet with MAZUR on the side

 

PANEL 1: We are looking under the beam while WORTHEN has bent down and is looking up towards MAZUR.

 

COLONEL WORTHEN

 

I think [the point] (use “my point” instead) [I was trying to make previously] (long and unnecessary) has been made.

You’ve lost control of this project.

 

(Same point as before re: jumping a line between separated balloons.)

 

PANEL 2: WORTHEN is coming up from under the beam while speaking still.

 

COLONEL WORTHEN

 

You’d promised certain safeguards that I have yet to see in place.

 

PANEL 3: The beam is the backdrop for this panel. MAZUR is directly in WORTHEN’s face at this point. He is adamant in defending the project while he speaks.

 

MAZUR

 

Colonel, you’re asking me to build a cage for an animal that has not yet been defined.

 

PANEL 4: Pulled back establishing shot of the labs. We see the full scope of this huge and open facility in its full operational state. The group is walking towards a section of the lab labeled “TESTING RANGES 1-4”

 

MAZUR (Off panel)

 

Now before you (Missing a word! Was it “have”, by chance?) any more hasty evaluations to make (Another comma-fail) let’s go meet our subjects.

 

The pace of this is terminally slow. Why so few panels per page? Of 8 pages, the highest single-page panel count so far is six. Why? Why so few panels per page?

 

Because instead of telling the story, you’re trying to make a page count. That’s a big no-no. Don’t stretch and try to fill a page count. If you do that, understand what it means: that you don’t have enough story to go around. If this is a 22p story, and I’m only on P8, understand that there’s really only about 5 pages of story told so far. Extrapolating, that means you only have about 17 pages of story here. That means you have more work to do in order to fill the space. Either fill it with story, or fill it with something else.

 

Simply put, you’re killing me. I stopped being interested around P4.

 

I’m going to cut it here. Steve did another four pages, but I don’t have the strength.

 

Here’s what Steve has to say:

 

Generally speaking, I found this to be a very well written and laid out story. You maintain a good pace without overloading your pages with excessive amounts of panels. You have a clear vision as to how you see the pages designed. Let’s just hope that once they get into the artist’s hands, he isn’t being too constricted. The dialogue reads pretty well, even though there are some points of missing clarity.

 

One area I’m interested in is getting your idea of what makes up a “grid”. On Pages Two and Six, you have “four panels of the same shot” and “four panels dividing the page” respectively, but then on Page Eight you ask for a “4 panel grid”. How is this different visually from the previous requests? There are different forms of four-panel grids, such as four wide stacked panels or the four corners grid. The reason I’m mentioning this is due to your obvious vision as to how you see the pages designed.

 

Two major areas to be worked on are punctuation (seriously) and too much dialogue in a balloon. It isn’t even a matter of dividing them up for pacing, but rather simply to create a better visual effect. The last point is the few basic script faux pas’ of including SFX in your panel descriptions and not visually dividing up split dialogue for the letterer.

 

All around good stuff!

 

Okay, we’re at the end. I differ very much from Steve. Let’s run this down.

 

Format: Needs some work.

 

If you’re going to give a location description in your page headings, carry it through. If you’re going to give a page layout there, carry it through. Don’t do one, and then start changing it up. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there is no such thing as a “right” way to format a comic script, but there are plenty of wrong ways. If you aren’t consistent, then you’re wrong. Plain and simple.

 

Also, make sure you label each element of dialogue and sound effects. No skipping lines, no starting on another line. Label every element. If there’s a different balloon, then label it. Got it? Good.

 

Panel Descriptions: Decent. Not great. You have to describe things at their earliest possible instance, as well as make sure you’re being clear. At least there were no moving panels, so I’m grateful for that.

 

Make sure you’re not making the mistake of getting ahead of yourself. Be clear. Break it down Barney-style if you have to. It seems like you got ahead of yourself a couple of times there, making references to places we hadn’t previously been; or if we had, you hadn’t expressly described where it was we had previously been.

 

Pacing: Dreadful. Absolutely.

 

After P1, which was interesting, absolutely nothing happens, and it goes on for pages. I could see if there were something of interest to hold my attention, but this is what you’ve done: low panel count, coupled with a relatively low word count per panel (but not balloon), which makes for a fast read.

 

You also have pages that aren’t doing anything, and as such, can be cut/combined with other pages, so that the pages are more dense, and the reader gets a feeling of more weight and pith to the story. They want to get their money’s worth.

 

The only book I can think of that had a low per-page panel count was Y the Last Man. However, while the panel count was low, each and every panel counted, as did each and every word. There was no fat in any of those comics that shipped. The same cannot be said for this script.

 

Every panel has to do one thing: help tell the story. If it doesn’t do that, then it hasn’t done its job. There are lots of panels here that aren’t doing their jobs.

 

Dialogue: There are good things and bad things about the dialogue. The dialogue is readable. The characters have their own voices. That’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. The bad things? After P1, it seems like nothing of real value is said. Especially before going into that flashback.

 

Keep the readability, and inject some story movement into the dialogue. Your readers will thank you.

 

Content: As a reader, I’d be upset in paying money for this. Nothing of value happens, and that’s what would upset me.

 

Editorially, condensing needs to occur. Not just condensing, but things also need to happen. I don’t think a complete rewrite is necessary, but I do think that a re-think is. Once something of interest happens, readers will be much happier.

 

And that’s all there is for this week. Check the calendar to see who’s 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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