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TPG Week 138: Run-On Sentences…

| August 16, 2013

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Welcome all, once more, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Jourdan McLain. We have Steve Colle very dapper in blue, I’m ravising in red, and we both see if Jourdan is going to

BUG OUT

 

PAGE 1 (6 PANELS)

Panel 1: Very wide shot of the outside of store, named SUPER VALUE MART, from the first person point-of-view of someone pushing a shopping cart heading towards the store while we see a jeep next to the entrance and as many people as you can pack on the panel also running to the grocery store doors from the parking lot. (There are a few things that I’m not getting from this panel. The first is the sense of urgency for people to get into the store. By having the panel filled with people running for the doors, you need to better establish the mood of the crowd. Is it just a really great sale going on or is there much more happening? Having read the entire script before tackling the edits, I can say that there is a great sense of urgency in the scene, one that should have people aggressively reacting to each other as they try desperately to gain entry into the establishment. The next thing is the fact that no one seems to be coming out. Did the store just open and that’s the reason for the mad rush? By having people trying to exit the store and having those trying to enter react to their purchases, perhaps violently, would better establish the chaos that should be prevalent in the image. Finally, what is with the solitary jeep sitting outside the front doors of the store? Knowing what you’re trying to convey, there should either be more vehicles doing the same thing or no vehicles whatsoever in the image so as to place focus on what really matters, which is the mass of people trying to get in.)(And how about that run-on sentence, eh?)

CAPTION: WEST BLOOMFIELD, MICHIGAN (Missing period) 2:30 P.M. (Another thing that might help is to break up the location and the time into two separate balloons. This way, there could possibly not be any missing ending punctuation.)

Panel 2: Full body shot of two men standing in front of empty shelf inside the store. Guy #1 has a large can of beans under his arms while he pushes the head down of Guy #2 who is reaching for the can. (First of all, I understand what you’re trying to accomplish with this image, creating a sense of desperation, but it isn’t coming across as strongly as it could. Secondly, and this is in regards to the dialogue that accompanies this panel, why would you have an off panel shout denoting a separate unseen altercation appear in this panel, where you should be placing the focus on what is seen and how they are verbally reacting to one another? It makes the visual here redundant. Either have the dialogue reflect the visible aggression or change the visual to go straight to where the shout is coming from.)

SIMON [BURST BALLOON] (Off-panel): DO WHAT I SAY (Missing comma) B*&^%! (This is just plain bad dialogue. It doesn’t sound natural in the least.)

Panel 3: Wide shot view with Guy #1 & #2, still grappling over the can, and other shoppers in the background (What are the other shoppers doing? Are they fighting as well?) now facing Simon in the foreground. In the foreground Simon is wearing open finger gloves and a flak jacket over his regular t-shirt and is angry with his mouth open as he points a pistol at an Elderly Woman. (Is Simon’s back to us? By having him in the foreground and having people from the background looking forward, that’s the visual I’m getting, but is that what you were going for?) The Elderly Woman looks at Simon with fear as she is placing a bulk size pack of toilet tissue in Simon’s shopping cart that is being held by Simon’s son Matt. Matt is standing next to the Elderly Woman and he is wearing a flak jacket that matches Simon’s with a shotgun strapped over his shoulder looking nervously at his father. (You’ve got so much going on in this panel that I can’t picture camera placement or character staging. We obviously need to see the elderly woman’s fear and Matt’s nervousness, but are they in the middle ground looking at Simon with his back to us in the foreground? Very confusing. Then there’s Matt. How old is he? Why does he have a shotgun strapped over his shoulder instead of in his hands? It isn’t making sense.)

SIMON [BURST BALLOON]: JUST PUT THE !F^#*$@ %S*& IN THE BASKET, SO I CAN GO! (What the heck is a !F^#*$@ %S*&? Instead of just bleeping out the curse word, you’ve covered up the name of the item. Why? And again, bad dialogue.)

ELDERLY WOMAN: o…ok (Missing comma) baby, jus…just calm down. (A couple of things wrong with this. First, spell out “okay” instead of simply writing “ok”. Next, is the elderly woman African-American, as she’s calling Simon “baby”? I can’t picture a Caucasian woman of advanced age using that word, which means you’ve either used inappropriate words in the dialogue or you forgot to better describe your character. Which it is, I don’t know.)(Just out of idle curiosity, and has nothing to do with the dialogue: black people in Canada. Are they just black, or are they African-Canadians? Or does it even matter/do they even care? Just curious.)

Panel 4: Mid close up of Matt in surprise as he looks up at the Elderly woman who is now holding the shot gun close to her and aiming it at Simon grinning with speed lines in the background as the shot gun straps are in mid-air as they have snapped from the shot gun . (Huh? This description is hard to read. What you’re trying to say, I’m assuming, is that the woman has somehow taken Matt’s shotgun and is now aiming it at Simon. I can’t honestly picture this being as fluid as you’ve written it. Also, it requires more than one panel to convey this information. That said, does the action really make sense in the first place?)(GAH! Okay, here’s the thing, Jourdan: God has made many wonderful things, but then again, so has Man. And one of the things than Man has created, in his finite wisdom, is punctuation. You went to school. You’ve learned how to use language. Now, learn how to use written language in order to get your point across succinctly. This isn’t succinct. It’s confusing as all hell, because the only punctuation here is the period. I think that’s going to be a theme here, and we’re only four panels into the first page. If the editors can’t understand it, how is an artist supposed to understand? Punctuation. Learn it.

MATT: No…no don’t.

ELDERLY WOMAN: Boy, be quiet!

(More bad dialogue, from both parties.)

Panel 5: Wide high angle shot of the store with a small fire (You mean to say that the barrel tip is shooting fire? Is it a flamethrower? This is a bad description.) coming from Simon’s gun as he shoots straight at the Elderly Woman whose arms are now splayed open still clenching the shot gun as she falls back. (You’re overwriting your panel description. Keep it simple and concise.) The shoppers around them are gawking or fleeing from the three who are centered in the middle of the panel.

SFX: BRAKKA BRAKKA BRAKKA (Simon has a pistol as you’ve described above. Would a pistol make this sound? Nope.)(Not even if it were an automatic handgun.)

Panel 6: Worms eye view of Elderly Woman’s body in the foreground and behind her we see Guy #1 looking down at the corpse and handing the can of beans to Guy #2 as Simon and Matt run off. (I don’t understand the purpose of this panel. What do Guy #1 and Guy #2 have to do with anything? They are inconsequential to this scene. And Simon and Matt are running off, but to where? The checkout line? Finally, all of these people in the store have just witnessed the incident, but no one is reacting. All you have is a disbelieving Guy #1 handing over a can of beans. You had potential to better flesh out this scene, but instead took the easy way out by having the pair simply run off. That’s bad storytelling.)

SIMON: Let’s go before we get locked out. (Locked out of where? The comment is supposed to lead us to the happenings on the next page, but causes more confusion than it’s worth. What else could he say, or for that matter, does he need to say anything at all? Even a “Let’s get outta here” would seem obvious given the situation.)

 

This first page did absolutely nothing for me. It’s meant to show the frenzy of a mob of people desperate to get their hands on basic necessities during a time of crisis, but given the premeditation on the parts of Simon and Matt with the guns, it makes me wonder why things are so desperate and yet so tame. Too many questions to be answered, not enough substance to pull the reader in properly, and a page that needs some serious re-evaluation, both in storytelling and in the dialogue.

Okay, so we’ve got P1 on the books.

I’ll say this: things are not looking good for the home team. Not at all.

Let’s talk about the panel descriptions for a moment, both from a technical standpoint, and how effective they are in telling the story.

Technically, these are unusable, and the reason why is simple: a lack of punctuation. I want you to read this out loud, Jourdan, in one breath:

You’ve written panel descriptions that are lacking in basic punctuation so that they all read worse than a set of vcr instructions and thus the reader is unable to tell exactly what is going on because punctuation gives us pauses to allow for understanding of meaning.

Were you able to read all of that out loud with one breath? Neither could I. And that is a problem with your panel descriptions. That lack of punctuation means that everything just runs on, with no real meaning evident, because everything is read with the same tone. The mind keeps looking for the comma or the period that we know must come at the completion of a thought, but it never arrives where we think it should.

Honestly, the dearth of the use of a simple comma that comes through here on a regular makes me frightened for the future. There is a difference between a writer and a storytelller. Storytellers don’t know how to properly use the written word, while writers do. All writers are storytellers, but not all storytellers are writers.

Learn to use the damned comma. Make the editor’s job that much easier. Make yourself understood that much better. It isn’t that difficult, and will save you a lot of time and heartache later if you learn now.

Okay, now that that’s done, let’s take a look at the story you’re telling.

It isn’t good. Why? It doesn’t follow the dictates of logic.

Nothing that happens on this page follows logic. Steve covered it well, but there are some things that still need to be said.

Here is a logical set of circumstances: we start on the outside of the store, possibly pulled out so that we get a good overview of the situation. Then we push in to the front of the store, and then we get inside the store, giving an overview of that. We can hear a commotion coming from off-panel, and then we switch around to actually see it. During all of that, we have either an omniscient narrator or a voice-over caption to get us in on the story. It is quite possible that the reader leaves P1 with either an understanding about the story, or intrigue as to what the story is about. What you have here does neither.,

You start outside, which is good, and then you focus on inconsequential people. We understand they’re fighting over food due to the bare shelves, but we have no idea as to what has caused such a food shortage.

We also don’t get any idea as to why this store is still in some sort of operation. If there’s food on the shelves that people are fighting (but not really killing) over, then there’s the sense that things haven’t broken down that far. I don’t care about the gun and the woman getting shot. Until we see that she’s dead, I’m maintaining that she’s still alive. P1 is supposed to provide some inkling as to what’s going on. It doesn’t. That makes it a failure.

The dialogue: this is near-wretched. It isn’t fully wretched, but near it, which makes it even more terrible because nothing of consequence was said. Maybe the last line on the page has some consequence, but because it doesn’t seem to relate to anything else, it just dangles out there, alone. It might be the lone bit of sense on this page.

The dialogue also makes the panel descriptions look that much worse. The dialogue has punctuation, but the panel descriptions are almost totally devoid. That’s terrible, and needs to be fixed.

Let’s see what new horrors P2 brings.

PAGE 2 (5 Panels)

Panel 1: Cut in view of Simon’s gloved hand with the door slightly open partly showing driver seat. (What is the purpose of this panel? Answer: There is no purpose. It simply shows the reader that Simon and Matt are now outside, but doesn’t identify whether outside is directly after the store incident or if they have just bought gas or stopped for a burger. If it’s right after the store incident, you could skip straight to Panel 2, and if it’s after the aforementioned burger stop, have dialogue in here to elaborate.)

Panel 2: Medium close-up shot of Simon and Matt in the front seats inside the jeep. Simon is looking forward driving with one hand on Matt’s shoulder who sits in the passenger seat wiping a tear from one cheek as he cries.

SIMON: It’s ok okay (Missing comma) man.

SIMON: The worlds world’s going to be like this now, but I’ve been prepping and we got all our stuff now (Missing comma) so… (This dialogue shows me that Matt has no idea what is going on, and yet, he is Simon’s son. This really doesn’t work. And again, the dialogue needs some serious help.)

RADIO [ELECTRIC BALLOON]: The wave of super-villains… (This is poorly broken. You could have easily had the balance of the sentence in this balloon and then started the next panel’s balloon with the new sentence. By the way, just how many super-villains make up a wave?)

Panel 3: Cut away shot of digital radio display showing 3:40 P.M. and Matt’s finger on the power button. (Here’s where you have the time showing as an hour and ten minutes after the store incident, which answers my question about the validity of the first panel on this page. So, McDonald’s or Burger King?)

RADIO: …attacking America have reached Ohio. Survivors of what is left of California and Texas are saying the villains are targeting heroes of individual cities, law enforcement and all government officials – – (The double dash at the end doesn’t work here because where you cut off the news report could have easily been the end of a sentence. If you really want to use the double dash, cut off a sentence in mid thought, interrupting it.) (Texas and California do not border each other. What, New Mexico and Arizona don’t count? And reaching Ohio? Freakin’ really? So, they’re going from west to east, which I can understand, but there are a buttload of states between Cali and Ohio. You totally skipped over those. Not even politicians skip over some of those states…)

SFX: – -Click (You don’t need the double dash here.)

Panel 4: Same shot as in Panel 2 except Matt is looking up at Simon worried and Simon forehead is wrinkled and eyes are squinting as a bead of sweat drips down his face. (Why is he sweating? Is it hot? Has he just exerted himself substantially? No, you’ve got him sweating out of nervousness, but does it really work here? I don’t think so.)

SIMON’S [THOUGHT BALLOON]: I have to make it or we’re DEAD. (More really bad dialogue. And why is it in a thought balloon?)

Panel 5: (Splash page) (Okay, the use of the term “Splash page” here shows me that you aren’t familiar with what exactly a splash page is. Simply put, a splash page is a comic page with only one panel, so by saying that Panel 5 is a splash page is a huge no-no. Did you mean to have this panel as the only image on its own page? That would have made more sense. Tell us what you had in mind for this particular panel.) Simon and Matt are seen inside the jeep. Simon still has the same expression from Panel 3 and Matt has his hands covering his face as they drive straight at us on the sidewalk of a residential neighborhood we see the water shoot in the air from a broken fire hydrant behind them, people running and looting, fires, loose zoo animals, and boarded up homes in the background. In the foreground is a man jumping out the way of Simon’s jeep. (There’s establishing a scene, then there’s going overboard. You definitely didn’t need to incorporate the man jumping out of the way. And that is one really long run-on sentence you’ve got there.)(At least there’s some punctuation in there, finally.)

Title: BUG OUT

Writer: Jourdan McLain

Artist:

Letterer:

Colors By:

Editor:

P2, and like I said, horrors.

Steve covered the jump in time very nicely, so I won’t go back over that. There’s something I do want to say, though.

Know your terms.

Comic book scripting terms are not difficult. Not in the least. The terms are simple: page, panel, dialogue, and they break down only a little bit more from there. Know what term is a no-brainer? Splash Page.

A splash page is a single panel that takes up the entire page. While it usually holds the credits, it doesn’t necessarily have to. This is a simple concept, and by putting the words “splash page” in panel 5, it tells me that you have little-to-no clue as to what a splash page is. The hell of it? The word kind of defines itself. The double-hell of it? This is the internet age, so if you were unsure, you could have easily looked up the term. You didn’t, and made yourself look terrible in the process. Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that Steve continued on, I’d stop right there.

At least this has been spellchecked.

So, what does this page do in order to push the story forward? Well, it turns itself into a badly plotted story. I remember reading a book (Roger Zelazny’s Prince of Chaos, which is part of the Amber Chronicles, and I try to read it annually), where the main character (Merlin) is hiding around a corner, and people are coming his way. He says that in a badly plotted story, the people would have stopped at the corner, had told him everything he needed to know, and then would have moved along on their way.

The radio on this page serves as the people, giving exposition so that the reader gets caught up. Ham-handed is the term I’m looking for. Here’s why I say that: you’re trying to show a breakdown of civilization. This is evidenced by the riot outside the store, and the shooting that takes place within it. I wouldn’t necessarily say post-apocalyptic, but you’re trying to get there. The radio gives us information that should already be old. That should already be very old. This is information that a character should have given. This reminds me of Long Gone, a story by Mark Bertolini, who’s a friend of the Tribe. This just is nowhere near as strong as that.

At least the dialogue on this page is marginally better.

Will P3 be a travesty? Let’s find out!

 

PAGE 3 (7 PANELS)

Panel 1: Birds eye view of large residential house (similar to The Sopranos House http://www.zillow.com/howto/FamousBirdsEye.htm) with no visible neighbors with the jeep Simon and Matt are inside in the driveway. (Is it a house or a compound?)

CAPTION: BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICHIGAN (Missing period) 3:54 P.M.

Panel 2: Wide over the shoulder of Angie in a flak jacket in her living room screaming and looking at her worried daughter Cassie and pointing at an opening in the floor that has a raised vault style door (When you say “vault style door”, I think of something thick and heavy. If it’s opening upwards instead of to the side, it’s probably too heavy to lift. Think about this one.) on it that her other daughter Lauren is already in, up to bust level, and is looking down into. Cassie with her flak jacket on is partially blocking the large living room window with the duffle bag and luggage she is carrying but we still see the passenger side of the door of the jeep is open. (There’s a difference between a scream and a yell. I don’t think you meant one instead of the other, here. Second, and more importantly, this is an impossible shot.)

ANGIE: Come on (Missing comma) girls, it’s time, (Period instead of comma here) Let’s go!

Panel 3: Over the shoulder of Angie with Cassie nearly down the steps we see Simon and Matt through the living room window holding a few shopping bags and bulk size toilet tissue (So, this answers my question about them going through checkout after killing the elderly woman. Seriously?!) through the living room window as they sprint toward the front door next to her.

ANGIE [WHISPERING BALLOON]: Thank you (Missing comma) Jesus.

Panel 4: Over the shoulder of Angie now facing the other direction as Simon and Matt dash past Angie heading toward the open floor door while Simon barks orders

SIMON: Bunker, (period instead of comma here) NOW!

Panel 5: Same bird’s eye view as panel 1 except the house is not there instead its grass in its place but the driveway and jeep are still in the same place. (Excuse me? The house is gone, but the driveway and car are still there? How does that make any sense?)(Butler gone, but pocket still there? Sorry. I just had a quick flash of memory from one of my favorite movies, Murder By Death. It’s a nice, light comedy, and even if you don’t understand all the character references, it’s still worth the time in seeing.)

CAPTION: BLOOMFIELD HILLS, MICHIGAN (Missing period) 4:00 P.M. (What is with the time updates and, for that matter, why are you giving us the location again?)

Panel 6: Wide shot of Simon standing and smiling next to his family huddled together with a vault door closed behind him and shelves packed with meals-ready-to-eat, water jugs, and food preserved in jars and various rifles one being a sniper rifle (http://www.inetres.com/gp/military/infantry/rifle/M107.html ) covering the walls next to him in his dim-lit bunker. (This panel makes little sense. First off, you say that the vault door is closed behind him, but that means that he somehow closed the heavy door above him. How exactly did he do that? Next, you say it’s a dim-lit bunker. Why is it dimly lit? I don’t get it.)

SIMON: What’s the point of being the mayor if you can’t get Eleos The Amazing to do you a favor or two? (Wait a minute. So you’re saying that Simon is the mayor and that the mayor is the one who killed the elderly woman in the store in front of all of his townsfolk with weapons he carried in so nonchalantly? Why wasn’t this dealt with earlier in the story?)(My brain just ‘sploded.)

Panel 7: Mid shot of Simon with a map of Hawaii behind him on the wall as we see his families family’s backs are towards us Simon is pointing and looking to his left in anger. (I feel like common sense has left the building. What the [bleep] is going on here? What is up with the sudden focus on the map instead of introducing it in the previous panel and why is he talking Spanish to what appears to be a member of his family? Give us an indication of the added person in the bunker so the reader isn’t as completely lost as I am, either with a shadow or part of their body in the shot.)

SIMON: < WHY THE !F^# ARE YOU HERE? >* (When you use symbols to denote a curse word, don’t throw a sporadic letter into the mix like you did with !F^#. It’s a novice mistake. On top of that, the line is weak. Shouldn’t “Why are you here?” be more like “What the hell are you doing here?”)

CAPTION: *TRANSLATED FROM SPANISH.

P3 is not a travesty.

I’m going to say this: I really want to stop reading the panel descriptions. The run-on sentences are hurting me. However, I have to, in order to see if these things can be drawn.

Actually, here’s what I’m going to say: no. On the whole, these cannot be drawn, because your artist is going to have a hell of a time trying to parse what you’re trying to say. First, they’re going to have to understand what you’re saying, and then they’re going to have to put it in terms that can actually be drawn, before putting pencil to page. You’re making it more difficult than it has to be.

You have seven panels on this page. What the hell for? This page, if told correctly, should have stopped on panel 5.

I do understand Steve’s complaint, though. Logic definitely seems to have gone out the window. Here’s what you’ve done to ensure our head ‘sploded.

First, you have the mayor of the town killing someone in cold blood.

Then, the mayor of the town goes to hide.

Next, the house that seemingly belongs to the mayor of the town disappears.

Let’s break all of that down.

The killing: this is the mayor of the town. He’s responsible to these people. The fact that he kills someone—one of his constituents, who probably voted for him—is crazy. But this also speaks to the next part.

He goes to hide. He shouldn’t be hiding! He’s responsible for these people! He sought a public office, and now that he has it, he should be coordinating efforts to hide others! The fact that no one goes up to him for help while in the store is incredible. The fact that no one attacks him while in the store for being a useless coward is even more incredible. There is a national crisis, and even though he’s at a small scale, he’s still a leader, and as a leader, he’s failed his community. By all rights, he should be dead, because they should have killed them as soon as he hid, instead of giving them the leadership they were looking for.

The disappearing house: you don’t explain the trick. Was it done with mirrors? A half-step to the side, dimensionally? Does it lower itself into the ground? You don’t explain the trick, and you don’t explain how the mayor got the technology to do whatever it was that was done to make the house go bye-bye. Instead, you continue along, blithely telling the story, when you should have been letting the reader in on how it was done. The whole thing doesn’t need to be revealed, but at least a hint of it.

 

 

PAGE 4 (5 Panels) (You’ve actually got 6 panels on this page.)

Panel 1: Tilting low angle view of the super-hero Derribar bruised with blood dripping down his face holding the handle of his macuahuitl club (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Macuahuitl.jpg), holstered in his teleportation belt, at his side and holding the shoulder of that arm while he is slightly arched over with parts of his costume ripped including his mask showing the pain in his face.

DERRIBAR: <So I can live.>

[Artist Note: Panel 2-4 will be one image (wide shot side view) divided by gutters into three panels side-by-side]

 

Panel 2: Mid shot of Cassie, Lauren and Matt terrified standing behind a calm Angie facing Simon in panel 3 with Angie’s arm reaching off panel towards him.

CASSIE: Oh my gawd, mom- –

LAUREN: –Is he going to kill us? – –

MATT: – -He can’t he’s a good guy.

ANGIE: Is everything ok, Honey?

(Terrible, terrible, terrible dialogue. I’m shuffling in my chair trying to find the words to describe just how awful this is. To take a quote from the above text: “Oh my gawd!!” On top of that, you’ve used double dashes for Lauren and Matt’s dialogue, but I can’t understand why. They aren’t connected in any way to the dialogue that precedes or follows them. And why put double dashes after a question mark?)

Panel 3: Mid shot of Angie’s extended hand from panel two is holding Simon’s hand as we have a multi-image of Simon’s head looking at Angie answering her then a motion line between the second head of Simon showing that he is now looking at Derribar in panel 4 with a curious face and his other arm is raised. (I am thoroughly, utterly, and irrevocably confused by what you’re trying to say in this panel description. It needs to be A LOT clearer.) Derribar’s bloody hand is seen in this shot under Simon’s hand.

SIMON: Yeah, be cool ya’ll. (I repeat: OH MY GAWD! What are you trying to do, Jourdan?! Where the [bleep] is Simon from that he’s talking like this?? And all of a sudden!!)

SIMON: <Derribar, why aren’t you in Detroit?> (Simon seems so calm and casual now, after completely flipping out before. A complete 180° turn. How’d that happen?)

PANEL 4: Derribar looks down at his bloody palm that streches into panel 3 and we see that the blood dripping on his cheek is now smeared.

Derribar: <Detroit is gone…and The President is Dead.> (Was the President in Detroit? The two don’t seem to coincide with one another otherwise.)

Panel 5: Extreme close up of Simons surprise eyes and sweaty brow (Again, why is he sweaty? Is anyone else sweaty?)

Derribar: <They will control the U.S. in less than an hour.>

Derribar: <The attacks are fast and global. Japan and Russia are the only ones left. Most heroes left alive are in hiding- -> (This can easily be a closed statement not requiring the double dash.)

Panel 6: View from over the shoulders of Derribar who is looking off to the right as we see Simon’s concerned face and shoulders now shrugged with both hands pointing at Derribar while his wife is next to him bewildered and her children stand behind her nervously (More confusion with what I’m reading. The fact that I have to read it more than five times is not a good sign. “… shoulders now shrugged with both hands pointing at Derribar” is a mess of a line, and the run-on sentences in your panel descriptions are making it hard to focus on one thing at a time.)

Simon: <- – (You don’t need the double dash here, either.) Except you and the Eagle Knights, right? >

Derribar: <My Eagle brothers are dead and I need to take revenge. Eleos told me of your food supply, (Take out comma) before her death, (Period instead of comma here.) I will need it all to sustain my powers. (Comma instead of period here.) So I’m asking you all to leave, (Period instead of comma here.) now.>

P4. We’ve got more story coming at us, but there are problems.

The radio said the villains were in Ohio, but Detroit is in Michigan. If the “wave” of villains are moving from west to east, then they are already past Detroit, even if just barely. Now, assuming the President is dead, it had to have happened in one of only a couple of different ways: he was out visiting when a “wave” hit (probably the first one), and thus, has been gone for a little bit (assuming you have a timeframe for your waves, I’ll say a couple of days at the least, depending on the power levels of your villains); he was in one of his private transports when it was destroyed; there is now a huge pit where the White House used to be.

Now, if the death of the President is a recent thing, then there’s other problems to be had: what was he doing out and about when villains are on a rampage? This is a case where stupidity deserves death. If the President were at the White House (or even Camp David, which is relatively close), how did the “wave” reach it so quickly? The radio just said it was in Ohio. I don’t mind teleportation, but things have to make sense. This doesn’t make sense.

Then, how does your costumed hero know this information? Here’s what we know: he doesn’t speak English, the cowardly mayor knows him (and speaks the language fluently, which I’m not understanding… If he’s Hispanic, even if he married a white woman who doesn’t know Spanish, more than likely the kids know enough Spanish to understand what’s going on.), and the “hero” is basically threatening the lives of this family by taking their food stores, and quite possibly, their domicile.

Yeah. Nice world of heroes, here.

Oh, don’t forget that this guy is only after revenge for the death of his Eagle brothers. Nevermind the fact that these villains are killing people in what looks like a bid to take over the planet. Screw that. That isn’t important. What’s important is vengeance! “Crush your enemies, drive them before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!” (Now I may watch Conan the Barbarian…)

PAGE 5 (7 Panels)

Panel 1: Close up of Simon’s head while he looks straight ahead stunned (Ending punctuation. It’s basically the only thing I can count on in the panel descriptions. Here, I was let down.)

Panel 2: Same close up of Simon’s head distraught except now he is facing down with his eyes close and his fingers are clenching his hair.

SIMON’S [THOUGHT BALLOON]: Please, Lord Jesus, don’t let us die! (I can’t take much more of this dialogue. This line is absolutely terrible and completely unnecessary. Just having his head down is enough to convey his feelings.)

Panel 3: Same close up of Simon’s head except now he’s looking straight ahead worried with his fist raised together as he begs to Derribar.

SIMON: <Could we use your teleportation belt?>

Derribar (OP): <No. The battery is damaged and there is only enough charge left for one more use.> (Very convenient to the story. Too convenient.)

Panel 4: From the P.O.V of Simon with both of Simon’s hands open and apart from each other still in the shot. (That’s going to have to be a very wide panel to capture the arms being apart and from Simon’s viewpoint. Good luck to the artist.) We now see a full shot of a stoic Derribar head tilted down though his eyes are still focus straight ahead holding his macuahuitl club that is now solid white (What color was it before?) as he holds it above his head, with both hands, as giant eagle (Who is giant eagle?) is now behind him with its wings spread and staring down at Simon in anger. (Wasn’t Derribar holding onto an injured shoulder before? And now he’s using his arm without struggle?)

SIMON: <I just can’t walk my family out there to die.> (This dialogue is best served in the previous panel as the action happening in the image is in answer to Simon’s comment.)

DERRIBAR: <Their lives will end here (Missing comma) than then.>

DERRIBAR[BURST BALLOON]: < MY LORD XIPE TOTEC (Missing comma) TAKE THESE SOULS AS A–>

[LETTERER NOTE: THESE ABOVE WORDS BURST OUT THE BURST BALLON]

Panel 5: Medium close-up canted view of Derribar’s bust and half of his face as the rest (The rest of his face, you mean?) has exploded apart and is in pieces in mid-air while he is still holding his macuahuitl club. The eagle is no longer behind him just the normal bunker background of shelved foods except for the few that were behind his head are destroyed now.

SFX: BRAKOOM

[Letterer Note: SFX is going to funnel out and come to a point going through the opening of Derribar’s face as though it is the bullet]

Panel 6: Mid shot of a prone Matt holding the sniper rifle from Page 3 Panel5 that is still smoking from the barrel with his head raised away from the scope looking cheerful.

MATT: I got him (Missing comma) dad!

SIMON (OP): Good job (Missing comma) man, (Period instead of comma here.) now let’s teleport out of here. (Convenient.)

Panel 7: (This panel should be on a separate page because of a jump cut. Sure, it’s teleportation, but you haven’t shown them all in line holding each other prior to teleporting, setting up the transition, so the page turn is necessary.)(Basically, he’s saying that this panel should be pushed to P6.) A very wide shot of the family standing side-by-side still with their flak jackets on with their backs to us on a secluded beach and standing in front of a massive yacht (something similar to this: http://www.tigerwoodsyacht.com/privacy-tiger-woods-yacht-is-put-on-sale.html). Cassie is looking up at the yacht holding her luggage in one hand and her sister Lauren’s hand in the other. Lauren is looking up holding her sister and moms hand with a backpack on. Angie has her other arm wrapped around Simon’s waist as she looks up at him. Simon has his arm around Angie’s shoulders and looks up at the yacht as he is now wearing the teleportation belt with the macuahuitl club holstered on the side as he holds Matt’s hand. Matt has the sniper rifle strapped to his back and the other arm has the bulk size toilet tissue under it. (You seriously didn’t need to hand hold the artist with all of the details about how Cassie is holding Lauren is holding Angie is holding Simon is holding Matt. Stick with the important details.)

CAPTION: Molokai, Hawaii (Missing period) 11:00 A.M. (You have this as 11:00 AM, but what time was it last when all of the action was taking place in the bunker? Did it take them time to prep everything for the trip, seeing as how it was last reported to be 4:00 PM in the last scene?) (At least the time difference is right.)

CASSIE: Like…whoa (Missing comma) Dad.

LAUREN: So this is why you never pushed me to go to college.

ANGIE: Baby, how did you afford this?

SIMON: Embezzling. (Yeah. No heroes here.)

MATT: What do we do now (Missing comma) Dad?

SIMON [DOUBLE OUTLINE BALLOON]: SURVIVE!

END

At the end, I have to wonder if Simon knew that Derribar was going to show up and that they’d be using the teleportation belt to escape. It’s all too conveniently planned out. And didn’t Derribar say that the entire United States was going to be taken over within the hour in the previous scene?

This was honestly a very bad story. From start to finish, I couldn’t find any truly redeeming factors to pull from to build a new story. It’s like you had a bunch of ideas and decided to throw them all into the blender to make this script, but when you put bad ideas with bad ideas, the two (or more) negatives do not make a positive. I’d love to say that the only problem was the atrocious dialogue, but that isn’t the case. From panel descriptions not making sense to missing or incorrect punctuation throughout, it was just plain terrible. I don’t know what else to say, so I’m going to let Steven take over.

I don’t have the strength, so we’re just going to run this down.

Format: This is the only thing that worked in this entire piece. You get a Flawless Victory. Savor the moment. The rest is severely downhill from here.

Panel Descriptions: Abysmal. In general, these were nothing but a bunch of run-on sentences that made little sense, and I don’t understand it. The dialogue, while terrible, had decent use of punctuation. Why one and not the other, I don’t know. It’s all important, Jourdan. Punctuation is important.

Things have to be drawn. That’s the purpose of the panel descriptions. The run-on sentences are only hindering the rest of the creative team from getting a clear picture of what the action is supposed to be. As Steve said, it’s hard to focus on what’s happening because everything seems to be happening at once. That’s what the run-on sentences are doing.

Then, there’s what’s actually happening in the panels. Besides being hard to understand, some of it cannot be drawn. Slow down, and think of each thing as a single element. If you’re going to write a compound sentence, learn how to use a comma. By slowing down and thinking of each element as a single piece, understanding should blossom.

Pacing: Not good. You go from one page of a riot at a supermarket, to one page of travel, to one page of an arrival/disappearance of a house, to two pages of exposition/death, but the transitions were about as smooth as Rocky Road ice cream. (Conan the Barbarian and some food, with ice cream for dessert. Yes, I’m hungry.) Each page seemed to be its own little scene, which I call a “fast cut.” I’m not a fan of those, because the reader doesn’t get a chance to get into the scene and understand what’s going on. That’s what you’re doing here. They may seem like part of a larger tapestry, but that’s false. The first three pages are their own scenes, and that needs to be smoothed out. You also have some padding in there, as well as some things that need to be rearranged, like that last panel on P5.

Dialogue: For the most part, it is the opposite of good. It’s either horribly wretched, or it’s just terrible. There is no part of the dialogue that’s good. When it starts to approach decent, it then gets either nonsensical, or it gets contradictory. The only good thing about the dialogue is the fact that there is more punctuation there than in the panel descriptions.

There are five pages here, and there is too much left unexplained. You get some of the information out, but it isn’t in a coherent manner. It isn’t in a manner that makes the reader want to know more. It makes the reader scratch their head. That’s never a good thing.

Content: Crap. That’s the only thing I can call it. From a reader’s perspective, there’s nothing that makes sense, and that means that the reader isn’t going to stay, unless it’s to watch the train wreck.

Editorially, I see and understand what you’re reaching for. However, I believe your talent hasn’t yet matched your ambitions. If I were editing this, I’d have a conversation and see where you wanted this to go, and then we’d try to make that happen. You’d have to explain to me how the world works, why there are no heroes, and we can see how to actually get that information into the story.

Yes, this is all bad. It can be saved, but each part needs to be seen for what it is, and then seen as part of the puzzle. After that, we can see what does and doesn’t fit, and if it needs to be in the story, it can then be worked (trimmed) to fit within the puzzle.

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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