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TPG Week 155: More Study Needed

| December 13, 2013

TPGFeatured_05

Welcome, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a returning Brave One in Will Robson. Let’s see if he’s learned anything since his previous submission! (Quick answer: not a lot.) Also this week, we have back Samantha LeBas (welcome back, Kotter—I mean, Sam!) in purple, and I’m forever dangerous in red, as we both look to see what Will does with

Lost and Dead

I’d like to see a header with the title of the script and possibly your name at the top of each page.

PAGE 1 (8 Panels) – pANEL 1 and 8 should be the same size. panels 4-6 should go vertically down the page. as a collective, they are the same size as panels 2 and 3.

PANEL 1 – EXT. Farmhouse – Early Afternoon – Autumn (This makes me think you learned screenwriting first. You don’t have to do this for us comic types. It’s actually a little confusing because it breaks up the description.) (And with that breaking, you’ve lost the easiest thing to get: a Flawless Victory. Format is easy. Breaking it up like this is a huge no-no.)

CAPTION

Louisiana, 2164 (Comma-fail.)

Wide panel, stretching across the top of the page. Low angle establishing shot of small farmhouse framed right, sun high in the middle of the panel. Post apocalyptic atmosphere – dead trees, dusty unkept fields. Scattered, shriveled(shrivelled) leaves blow right across the panel. Framed left, a muddy and weathered construction boot walks towards the farmhouse. Dust billows up from the footstep. The Farmhouse has a small porch area, make sure there is a window next to the right side of the front door. All windows on the first floor should be boarded up. Keep in mind about the window on the right and how you want to set it up, as it will be a reoccurring set.(The disembodied boot is a little confusing. Tell your team whose boot this is so the character can be depicted accurately. Are there any significant details that need to be in place for the window on the right to function later in the script? Mention that now, if so.)

CAPTION(black with gold text) (CONT’D)

There are two types of bacteria in this world… (Put all your text together in the script, there is no reason to break up these captions with a description. Tell us who is speaking, or if a cap is editorial, etc. Why is this continued? From where? )(I think it’s part of the program used. I know Final Draft could possibly have a “continued” to the caption. Continued from where? The first caption, which, of course, is wrong.)

PANEL 2 – INT. Farmhouse

Medium close up of an 8 year old girl. Scruffy brown hair, brown eyes. Appearance shows no sign of consistent hygiene (multiple random stains on clothing, dirt on face). The left strap of her jean overalls hangs broken. Short white sleeve shirt underneath, no shoes. (SFX: KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK). She looks in concern over her left shoulder. Behind her, sun light creeps through a heavily boarded up window. (Describe your character in a separate document, if she is a recurring character name her, even if you simply choose a consistent way to refer to her such as ‘Little Girl.’ You have given no description of the farmhouse interior, and you have not placed your character within the scene. Is she seated? Leaning against the wall? Standing still, or in motion? Fill in the blanks. Also SFX go with the rest of the text.) (I’m cringing in horror. We’ll talk about just how jacked up this is in a little while. It doesn’t look like Will learned much of anything from last time around, and will be treated appropriately. I’d ask the judge for permission to treat the witness as hostile, but I’d just be asking myself, and I already know the answer. )

CAPTION (CONT’D)

There’s the good…

PANEL 3

Close up profile shot of the little girl looking through the cracks of the boarded up window. She faces right. A small pool of light collects around her eye from the sun outside. Her pupil should be facing the direction of panel 4. (This seems backward to me, as in, it seems like the panel should be flipped. Steven, why does this seem backward?) You don’t have to include this when you post it, I just cannot figure out why this seems to be facing the wrong way, and I bet you know. Tell me later if you do.

It isn’t backward. It’s just wrong. Let’s break it down:

Close up profile view. So, we’re seeing half the girl’s face.

She’s looking through cracks between two boards, so she’s facing right.

This is where the abject stupidity comes in.

So now we have a pool of light collecting around her eye, and a pupil facing the next panel.

Where’s the camera? If the camera is inside, then we won’t be able to see most of the boards (or anything besides her head, really). We won’t see the half of her face that has the sun on it, because that side is away from the window, so there will not be any “pool of light” under her eye.

We’re humans, and being human, we have stereoscopic vision. Unlike most other animals, we can wink. What else does it mean? It means that if we’re looking through a crack, then we’re generally going to close the other eye, so that our brain can concentrate on only one image. So I don’t know which way she’s looking, but we’re not going to see the pupil of her right eye, because that eye should be closed.

If the camera is outside, then we’re generally not going to see most of what was described, because the boards are going to be hiding her. We’ll see more of the boards than we’ll see of anything else. And that pool of light? It’s going to be all over her face.

And what about those boards? If you’re going to board up a window, generally, you’re going to do it along its width, not along its height. You’ll be doing it horizontally, not vertically. And if you’re going to go through the trouble of boarding up windows, there shouldn’t be gaps large enough to see half of someone’s face through.

So, this entire panel description doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t work.

NO COPY

PANEL 4 5 & 6 (As stated, 3 small panels which match the size of Panel 2 and 3 vertically)

Close up on little girl’s hand unlocking three types of locks. (SFX: CLICK, CLACK, CLUNK) Each lock appearing larger than the next. Locks look fortified enough to stop an intruder. (Again, SFX go in the same place as dialogue. Should each panel have its own SFX? I wish you had separated these panels.)

PANEL 7

Wide panel, medium close up of an old man (mid to late 50’s) hugging the little girl. They are framed in the doorway, sun light shines heavily into the house. The man has shaggy, medium length, grayish hair. He has a stubbly face and a large moustache. He wears a raggedy old flannel shirt riddled with poorly patched up tears and rips. On his hands, finger-less gloves and a rifle hangs over his right shoulder. A large camping backpack is strapped to his back. (There are references to all his gear in the Lost and Dead Issue 1 reference folder.)(Name your characters, please. And mid-fifties is not old… that’s just not nice.)

CAPTION

The type that protects us from disease…

PANEL 8

Exact duplication of Panel 1 in size and framing, but boots are replaced with a large velociraptor foot facing the farmhouse (again framed left). Deteriorating scales expose the animal’s rotting flesh around it’s toes.(Oh, dear. Do I smell zombie dinosaurs?)

CAPTION (CONT’D)

And then there’s the bad kind…

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

(Okay, well, your page turn comes at the right time. That’s positive. The captions are a little droll, but the pacing is not bad. I do think they are, categorically inaccurate, there are far more than two types of bacteria, but artistic license and what-not… Let’s see where it goes. Also, since you are going to the trouble of telling us that this is set in Louisiana, I wanted to go to the trouble of telling you that the lower portion of the state did not exist [it was underwater] in the time of velociraptors. I don’t know if that will affect your story or not, but now you know.)

So, we have P1 on the books.

This is not good.

First, let’s start with my incredulity. I’m not happy at all. Will’s last attempt at this was horrible on a massive scale. I probably could have invaded North Korea all by myself and been victorious, just on the power of that script.

Is this script any better? Yes, but only marginally. I can still invade a country and win, but it would be a smaller country. Why am I incredulous? Because this is week 155, and this is Will’s second attempt, which means there are 152 scripts for Will to have looked at and studied. There are books, articles, and more online, as I alluded to before. I said this last time. Hell, you don’t even have to leave the site. There’s an entire archive on how to write comics. It’s massive, and growing every week. I’m incredulous and disappointed that this wasn’t taken advantage of.

Let’s look at panel 1. It’s jacked up. How do we read things? In the English speaking world, we read from left to right. That’s also how we look at comics: from left to write. So, comic scripts should be describing things from left to right. Having the cabin described first, and then putting it to the right of the panel is wrong. Having the boot described last and then put to the left of the panel: wrong, on multiple levels.

I’ve already said that it was wrong because it should have been mentioned first, but let’s talk about the other ways this is wrong.

Let’s talk about planes.

What plane is the cabin in? Fore-, middle-, or background? What about the boot? See what I’m getting at? You say where the cabin is, but not the boot. So where is it?

How else is it wrong? Because you don’t say what plane the boot is in, you are forcing the artist to either ask the question, or to take matters into their own hands. Sounds good, right? Exactly. It doesn’t. There’s no reason why the artist should be either guessing or asking about information that should have been provided in the script.

Then we go to panel 2.

You don’t describe the interior, you don’t tell the artist where in the dwelling the girl is…she’s just in a white void—and we all know how I feel about white voids.

Now, the timing from panel 1 to panel 2 is too great, depending on where the boot is in relation to the cabin. The person knocking shouldn’t have been able to make it to the door inside of one panel. Maybe two panels, but definitely not one. So your pacing is off.

I’m not going to run down every panel, but you need more dialogue. All of the dialogue you have could have fit into a single panel. That means it’s a fast read. Want to slow down the read? Add more dialogue. That’s how it works.

I should stop right here, but a lot of work has gone into this script. I have to honor that.

PAGE 2 (3 PANELS) – Panel 1 is panel-less and takes up the entire page with it’s focus being on the left side. Panels 2-3 are of similar size to each other, and stretch vertically down the right side of the page.(Not sure about this layout, you may lose narrow, vertical panels to the staple here.)

PANEL 1

Full body shot of a soldier mounted on top of an un-dead velociraptor.(We need to talk. See note at the end of this description.) The soldier wears a full armor(add hyphen) plated face mask/helmet, with the eye sockets glowing yellow. His armor consists of a military grade bullet proof vest, with multiple large pouches strapped around the waistline. His knee pads, boots, and weaponry are all black, along with the rest of his attire being a mixture of dark grays. The name CHAMBERS is written on the small insignia across his chest. A small dust covered, poncho-like cape blows in the wind around his shoulders(Ponchos and capes are not the same thing, where are you going with this?). He holds a large, futuristic looking, military grade sniper rifle. He sits on a reinforced saddle strapped to the back of the dinosaur. Reins hang from the creatures(creature’s) exposed gums.(Do me a favor, google ‘bits and bridles’ and see if you are saying what you mean here.) The raptor’s eyes look murky and dull. Behind the soldier, two other riders on raptors (silhouetted). The background consists of a large flowing dust field. In the extreme distance a city lies in rubbles(rubble). (See reference sheet for visual depiction of soldier.)(Seriously? There is more? You can put the description of his armor and attire in that doc as well. As a rule, we need to know who we are looking at, what he/she is doing, how he/she is positioned, and what he/she is interacting with in panel descriptions. Refer to your character’s by name, I beg you. What city is in the background? Why can you see a city from a farm house?)

(And here is the note I promised you: velociraptors are up to 1.6 ft tall, and weigh up to 33 lbs. Are you seeing the problem yet? To put that in perspective, the average male wild turkey weighs about 26 lbs. I cannot imagine that an adult human in full battle gear could successfully mount and ride a turkey, and therefore I do not think that that same man would be capable of riding a velociraptor. I am going to go out on a limb here and blame “Jurassic Park” for misinforming you about the size and shape of this dinosaur. Personally, I think you must ascend to the level of Steven Spielberg before you can get away with something like this.) (That’s a really short limb…)

CAPTION (CONT’D)

The kind that only wants to hurt us.

PANEL 2

Close-up, over the shoulder shot of the old man looking into the distance behind him. A panicked expression on his face. In the distance, three small silhouettes of the soldiers riding slowly towards the house. (How do we see the zombie dinosaur riders and his expression over his shoulder? I don’t quite see this.)

CAPTION (CONT’D)

They outnumber the good…

PANEL 3

(SFX: SLAM) medium shot of the old man slamming the door shut from inside the house. The man is framed right, the door framed left. The interior decor is riddled with dust and dirt. On the wall behind him, a large family photo of the old man, the young girl, and what we assume to be his wife. (I would change ‘what’ to ‘a woman,’ or something like that, maybe include some more information about her. Again, I think you may be seeing this a scene, and not as an image. If this is long and narrow, there cannot be much detail in the background. How is he positioned so that we can see that the door has been slammed, his expression, a portrait behind him, and details of the decor? This needs some thought and rewording in order for it to make sense.)

(INSERT PAGE BREAK.)

(Science fiction is so much fun because it bends the rules of reality. That can only happen when we are aware of the rules. That means, if we want to write science fiction; we have to research the science before we can fictionalize it.

You cannot ride a turkey.

There are more than two types of bacteria.

Respect the science.)

CAPTION (CONT’D)

And fight to take over the body.

I was the editor of a story once. The writer wanted time travel, and have it be possible with a couple of Duracell batteries; 100 people pushing a nuclear warhead up a mountain; the Secretary of State to want to start a nuclear war because he thought it would be fun to do before he died of a brain tumor; for the entrance of Cheyenne Mountain to be off the street, like a house; for the First Lady to be in the chain of command.

I had major, major problems with all of this. I was in the military, remember, and I know something of how things work, like the chain of command and such. I told the writer that this wasn’t going to work and that they needed to go back and do their research. Their response? (This is classic.)

It doesn’t matter, because it isn’t real, anyway.

BZZZZT! Wrong answer! Alex, tell him what he’s won!

A Forbian tongue-lashing!” [insert clapping here]

Respecting the science is something that needs to be done. If you want people to be able to enjoy the story, then they have to be able to see where you pushed the science into new and exciting places.

This doesn’t do that. Here’s what happens when you run into someone who knows what they’re talking about: they pull out their knowledge, and then you feel sheepish.

I remember reading a Marvel comic, back in the days when there was an actual letter column, and someone asked where they got their science. It seems that the writer of the comic did something “interesting” (read: impossible) with a transistor or a capacitor or something, and then explained what it was. The editor said thanks, and acknowledged it was a mistake, and promised to make new mistakes in the future. It was humorous, but that stuck in my memory.

Someone will always know when you’re trying to fudge the science. It isn’t fun being called on it. And it’ll happen.

As Sam said so perfectly: respect the science.

At least the pacing for this page is okay.

PAGE 3 (6 PANELS) – Panel 1 stretches across the top of the page. Keep in mind the way you set up panel 3, as it will need to reoccur on page 4 for panel 3. Panel’s 5 & 6 are the same size. They are thin and stretch horizontally across the page.

PANEL 1

High angle shot of a soldier (NAME HIM.) (You got Sam using her outside voice…)(facing away from us) approaching the front of the house. The soldiers(soldier’s) cape blows heavily left, the raptor’s tail extends out of the panel directing the viewer’s eye towards the next panel. The raptor approaches the right window next to the door.

CAPTION (CONT’D)

They are ancient organisms.(I would start with something like, ‘These bacteria are…’ since you are literally showing an ancient organism on panel. Just a thought.)

PANEL 2

Wide Shot. In the foreground, framed left, the old man points his rifle towards the front door (the door is off panel). His back is up against the adjacent wall to the door. The little girl peaks (GAAAH! I have few pet peeves, and this is one of them. WRITERS! Learn the difference between peak, peek, and pique! You’ll earn my respect when you do so!) through the cracks of the heavily boarded up window in the background, framed right. The window is above a tattered old sofa, which the little girl is kneeling on. The silhouette of the raptor can be seen blocking out the sun that slips through the boarded up window in front of her. All the furniture in the house looks battered and used, the wallpaper peeling at it’s creases. Small flies scatter around the air. (Wha? Sofa? I’m not going to call it magically delicious, but it’s close. Here’s the question: is this sofa near the same window that the girl was looking through? Or is it a different window? See what happens when you don’t place things in something resembling a proper place?)

NO COPY

PANEL 3

(SFX: SNIFF SNIFF) Close-up, profile shot of the raptor’s snout sniffing through the cracks of the boarded up window. The raptor is framed left. In the middle of the page, the view cuts between the exterior and the interior of the house, as if the building’s left wall was missing. Keep in mind that this panel is the same set up as panel 3 on page 4 (though that panel will be larger). Framed right, in the foreground, is the little girl facing the raptor in horror. She is also in profile. Behind her, the old man points his rifle towards the door. Re-create the atmosphere of the scenery explained in previews(do you mean ‘previous?’) panels (dust, flies etc). (No. This is not film. This is not going to come off the way you want it to. People are going to wonder what the hell happened to the wall. I’m wondering what the hell happened to the wall, and I know what happened to the wall.)

CAPTION (CONT’D)

The first life forms on this planet.(This is not a complete sentence, consider joining with ellipses.) (Consider not trying so hard to sound highbrow. It’s not coming off well at all.)

PANEL 4

The point of view is from the doorway facing the sky behind the soldiers (What? I no longer know what I’m supposed to be looking at.). The top part of the porch’s roofing is slightly in frame to establish that they are on the porch. A small portion of the raptor’s snout can be seen in the foreground, framed left. The soldier on top of the raptor looks over his left shoulder towards the background. It is a slightly low angle shot in order to reveal the futuristic aircraft hovering near the ground behind them. The ship itself looks like a hovering, mechanical crab. It has 6 mechanical legs (three on each side, which wrap below the ship’s bottom. Inside the arms of the ship, a large cargo crate hangs. (See reference sheet for plane and cargo design.)(So, we see: roof, raptor snout, raptor rider, sky and a pretty detailed futuristic aircraft all in this one panel?) (This panel is impossible. It cannot be drawn.)

NO COPY

PANEL 5

Wide, profile shot of the house and riders. The house is framed right (Every time I see the phrase “framed right/left”, I want to punch a puppy. Just saying.). The three riders near the house face left. Framed (puppy punch!)top left, the bottom of the cargo ship’s crate can be seen entering the panel.

CAPTION (CONT’D)

But the one thing that the good and the bad have in common…(We’re on P3, right? I think so. I really don’t care, to tell the truth. But in 3 pages, you still haven’t managed to say a damn thing worth reading. Realize how deep that statement is, when you consider just how much [read: how little] dialogue you’ve actually written.)

PANEL 6

(SFX: DOOM)(I would change this to ‘THWOOM,’ since ‘DOOM’ is an actual word…) (Meh. There’s better fruit on this tree to pick. Ripe and succulent. Possibly in the next sentence.) (repeat shot of panel 5) Framed right (PUPPY PUNCH!), the cargo crate drops, dust billows up from around it’s(its) sides. The ship’s crab legs are slightly in frame near the top left corner of the panel. (Okay, so I had to go two sentences, not counting the puppy punching. The crate is at the right of the panel, but the ship is at the left? Is anyone else having a hard time with this, or is it just me?)

(INSERT PAGE Break.)

(your layout direction makes this a tough read. I understand why you value things like symmetry between pages and controlling the reader’s eye, but it makes it difficult to visualize what it happening on panel. Consider including layout thumbnails, or include notes to specific members of the creative team as parenthetical notes separated from the description so that you do not lose the flow of script. You would not believe the difference in clarity hitting the return key can make. Also, sorry for the shouty caps, your formatting will not let me use lowercase letters here.)

P3 is in the books.

I’m at a loss. I mean, really.

This is the slowest, most uninteresting thing I’ve seen in weeks. I’m forcing myself through it.

This page has six panels, and really, I’m hard-pressed to remember anything of significance happening here. And then I go back up and I see all the red, and I’m more interested in my comments than I am in your script. How terrible is that?

Let’s beat you up over the dialogue, or the lack thereof. Or the lack of actually good dialogue.

You’re talking about organisms and bacteria and…that’s it. None of it is interesting. I’m not getting anything even resembling a complete thought that’s coming through or even coming anytime soon. That is not good at all.

Dialogue is supposed to enhance the story. It’s supposed to pull the reader in and keep them reading. That’s the purpose of dialogue. A story told well doesn’t need dialogue. The pictures themselves can tell the story.

That isn’t possible here. Here’s what you have: panels that cannot be drawn, panels that are extremely light in critical information, and panels that are just not doing their job.

Another thing that the dialogue is doing? It’s all in captions, giving the reader a “lean back” experience. That’s boring. What do you want to do when you want to go to sleep? You lean back. You don’t want the reader to lean back, unless it’s a mind-blowing moment. The only thing blowing their minds right now is just how bored they are. Both Sam and I are more entertaining than this thing here, and we definitely have more to say than the dialogue here.

You should be ashamed of yourself. All the time you spent between the first posted script and this one? Waste of time. You haven’t studied long enough or gone far enough

PAGE 4 (3 PANELS) – Panel 3 is panel-less and takes up the whole page. Panel 1 and 2 should be similar in size and small (at least one fourth of the page) so that the focus is on panel 3.(There is a better way to say what I think you are trying to say here. Does panel-less mean borderless? If a panel takes up the whole page, it will be the only panel on a page. You might try saying that it is ‘the largest panel,’ instead.)

PANEL 1

Medium Close up of the front of the crate. The crate’s doors are opening diagonally across the crate (by this I mean, instead of a standard cargo crate in which the doors open like a regular door, this futuristic crate has doors which separate from each other at a skewed angle. They don’t open outwards, but disperse into the corner’s of the crate.) The Chambers Foundation logo (in reference folder)(I would set this off some way: bold text, underline, all caps… Just something so it is easier to pick out) can be seen painted across the doors of the crate. The doors are only opened slightly and dust billows out from around the latch.

NO COPY

PANEL 2

Similar shot to panel 1, but a tighter shot. The doors are at a wider separation. Rotting hands creep around the crate’s doors. In the darkness of the interior of the cargo, only pin holes from sets of eyes can be seen.(Tell your team what is in the box so they know what to illustrate.)

NO COPY

PANEL 3 – (Again, whole page.)(Again, since there are three panels on this page, it cannot take up the ‘whole page.’)

Repeat shot from panel 3 of page 3. Framed left (puppy punch!), showing the exterior of the house, a collective of thirty plus zombies roam towards the house. Decaying hands reach towards the front door, mouths hang open. The three riders can be slightly seen behind the ghouls. In the interior of the house, the little girl holds onto the old man who shelters her vision from the horror outside. The old man holds a strong yet worried look upon his face. (Normally, this would go without saying, but since you have dinosaur zombies, I think that you have to say these are human zombies. Panel 3 Page 3 is the ‘Sniff Sniff’ panel, I don’t think you can incorporate all the information you are asking for here in that layout.)(And this is still impossible.)

CAPTION (CONT’D)

Is that they’re everywhere.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK)

(These layout directions are confusing, and I think that they may be more detailed than necessary. Try to take a step back and determine if these creative choices are necessary to the integrity of the story you want to tell. If the answer is no, trim them down a little. I think an experienced artist might find these directions a little limiting, which could harm your final product.)

I don’t care. I’d just be repeating myself.

PAGE 5 (No Panels) Near the center of the page is a small set of glowing yellow eyes (read page 6 description to know where you want to place the set and how large). Everything else on the page is solid black. The eyes belong to Alec Chambers, our villain. Tyra’s dialogue balloon has no tail as she is off panel. Chamber’s balloon should point towards the set of eyes. (Does this mean this is a splash page?)

Tyra

Who are you?

ALEC CHAMBERS

My name is Alec Chambers…

(INSERT PAGE BREAK.)

(This seems a bit wasteful. An entire page for this?) (This entire thing is a waste.)

Five pages, and we finally get someone named. Can’t see what they look like, but you actually named someone.

This is crap.

PAGE 6-7 (Double page Splash) The shot should be an over the shoulder shot of Tyra (taking up page 6) looking down on Alec (Page 7). Tyra is a veluptious(voluptuous), extremely attractive blonde. This is a high, over the shoulder shot, so you can only see the back of her long flowing hair. She is naked, but we wont be showing any privates in this comic. Her arms (and feet, but off panel) are lcoked(locked) in ridiculously large, cone like shackles. The shackles are large, computer like chains(I have no idea what this should look like) (see reference in folder). Alec Chambers, a slender man in his late 40’s with a large, almost balding, widows peak stands framed right (facing Tyra) on page 7 (taking up one third of the image). He is wearing a three piece, dark blue suit with a light blue tie. His thin, well kept hair is brown and his eyes are a light yellow. His pupils are very small. With his right hand, he points a small remote towards a spherical floating robot. SFX: CLICK. The robot is about the size of a human head and hovers just above head level of Chambers. The front of the robot is a large screen with a small, cap like visor over top (see reference sheet for robot). From the bottom of the robot, four torches face equally in four directions to light up the room. Chambers looks menacing, but not extremely menacing. This isn’t the Joker, but more of a Norman Osborn (with the ego of the Kingpin). He is powerful, rich, and very full of himself. His left hand is in his pocket. He is standing in a large, futuristic lab facility. Have fun with this, think 50’s science fiction films meets the death star. Lots of tubes with chemicals shooting around the walls. This isn’t a messy facility though, everything should look like it belongs where it is. If this laboratory was a computer, it would be the macbook pro of laboratories. The room is large enough to show the entrance door framed left (puppy punch!) behind Chambers. Two guards (wearing the same getup as the soldiers in the previous pages but without the pancho-capes) stand at point on each side of the door. They both carry ridiculously large rifles. (This description is ridiculously long. Character descriptions, and even setting descriptions can be placed in separate documents. For all of the detail, I still cannot picture this scene. What is Tyra chained to? Why is she looking down on Chambers? What’s going on with the robot? Why are there torches in a high tech lab? This needs to be refined.) (He’s from the UK. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt that “torch” is the same as “flashlight”, although the question still remains as to why that would be a light source here.)

Chambers

Welcome to Antarctica.

(INSERT PAGE BREAK.)

(Well, now it seems we have woken up in a completely different and unrelated comic book. You might consider drawing a stronger connective thread for your readers. Think about how you are rolling this out. It’s the future, then there a zombie dinosaurs, then there are zombies, then there is a mad scientist lair… in Antarctica. There is a difference between building a mystery and flinging stuff at the wall until something sticks.)

So, we have more padding.

Not only more padding, but we have what looks like a totally different story. More interesting? Don’t know. But I do know that you wasted two pages on crap that doesn’t do a damned thing to push the story forward or reveal anything about anyone. Nothing happens, and hardly anything is said, and it’s damned effin’ criminal.

I need to take a shower. I feel dirty. I tried to miss all the crap being thrown at me, and not only have I failed, I’m also sweaty from the effort.

Where’s the story, Will? No, that’s a serious question. Where’s the damned story? Where’s the story that you’re asking people to put their money on and give their attention to? Seven damned pages, and it is nowhere in evidence. And now we have this other tree that just appeared out of nowhere. I can’t call it a branch, because that would mean that it’s attached to a tree at some point. I’m not seeing that attachment.

I’m seeing crap. I’m not even seeing Antarctica. I can’t see it, because the only thing you have are the characters and something of a setting, but nothing about it says Antarctica. Nothing.

The only good part about this is the fact that you got the placement right: even-odd for the double-page splash. Everything else about it: crap.

PAGES 8-9 INT. ANTARCTIC LABORATORY – NIGHT

Page 8-9 (10 panels, 5 on each page) These pages should mirror each other. Panels 1-3 are all connected separately from the other panels and descend vertically down one third of page 8. Panels 4-5 should be the same size. They are tall vertical panels. Page 9 perfectly mirrors page 8, so make panels 6-7 tall and vertical and 8-10 separate and the same as 1-3. The colorist should make the surrounding panel color the same color as Chambers’ suit (dark blue). The colorist should also add a subtle texture in with the surrounding panel colors to connect these two pages. If you have an idea for a way to connect the surrounding panel space with your art, then please ask me.(This is a really heavy-handed approach to working with a creative team. You are not giving any of your hypothetical associates a lot of room to interpret your work. I hope you are planning on paying them.)

INSERT PAGE BREAK

Panel 1

(small square panel) – Close up profile (facing right) of Tyra. Her unkept hair strings down over her face (covering her eyes but not her lips). Although she is hung up in this horrific way, she still looks like a goddess. Keep a good amount of space free framed left for repeat shot in panel 2.

Tyra

Why did you bring me here?

Alec Chambers (off panel, right?)

Because you are special(comma) my dear.

Panel 2

(same size and shot as panel 1) – same set up as previous panel, except she is now squinting at the light in her face. The light shines from one of the torches below the hovering robot that’s now very close to her head at eye level. The robot faces her in profile (framed right).

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)(Off panel, again? YOU only need cont’d if he has more than one line in a panel)

More special than you could even begin to imagine.

Panel 3

(medium length, vertically rectangular) – Medium Profile of Chambers (facing left) looking up towards Tyra (off panel). His brow is low but his grin is wide. (Again, not too menacing). His yellow eyes need to be very prominent.

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)

But I’m pretty special, too. You see, you and I aren’t like the others…(Comma-fail.)

Panel 4

(tall vertical panel as tall as the page) – BROOKLYN DAY – slow moving zombies roam through a NYC ghetto. In the foreground (but only half in shot and not taking up the majority of the panel) a close up of a male zombie with a good dozen flies surrounding him. Maggots crawl out of its mouth. There is no specifications for how these zombies should look, they just have to look terrifying and a few months rotten. Behind the foreground zombie, a horde is stuffing their faces with the guts of a poor victim. The area they are in should look like a slum in Brooklyn. Try and sneak in a small indication that we are seeing New York(Perhaps on a zombie’s T-shirt or baseball cap, your call). (What is in the background? How many zombies?)

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)

Roamers…

Panel 5

(same size as previous) – HOSPITAL HALLWAY – DAY – low angle shot of zombies sprinting towards the viewer down a hospital hallway. Walls and floor are smeared in blood. These are fast moving zombies so make it look like they are running as fast as humanly possible. Hospital decor is up to you. The zombies are less rotten in appearance in comparison to the roamers. These type of zombies produce a large amount of saliva (think 90’s Venom) that swings and dribbles from their mouths. The saliva should be a blend of see through and blood red (depending on how recent they have fed). Think of them like the Vampires in 30 days of night.(How many? Some of this could go in a separate document.)

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)

Runners…

Panel 6

(beginning of page 9. Same size as previous panel) – SEWERS – NIGHT – medium shot of a hybrid dinosaur humanoid zombie. This type is called a “mutant”. The mutant always resembles the dinosaur it was initially bit by, but, still remains some what human. I want the mutants to look terrifying. They should look like spliced lab experiments gone wrong. So incorporate things such as teeth growing out of their elbows, long wagging tongues and disproportionate limbs. This particular mutant was bitten by a Delophosaurus (which you would know as a spitter from Jurrasic Park) so it has the recognizable, large flab of skin around its neck (reference for Delophosaurus is in Lost and Dead – Dinosaurs reference folder). Don’t reveal too much of the mutants appearance (make it heavily shadowed) as I want to reveal these creatures in a later issue. The beast is deep in the sewers (make the only light from above as if it was shining through a sewer grate (By this I mean add bars into your shadow work). The creature should be waste(waist) deep in sewage water. Water should be dripping from the pipes above. Again, don’t reveal too much of it, just focus more on it’s shape. It’s evil eyes glow yellow.

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)

Mutants…(You know every comic reader will immediately think X-men. What else might you call them?)

Panel 7

(same size as previous panel.) – DUSTY FIELD – DAY – On the right side of the panel, in the foreground, is a medium shot of a “redneck”. He wears a truckers cap, a white tank top and tan trousers. He holds a shot gun low and loosely in his hands. He should be scruffy looking, unkept (like the little girl in pages 1-4). These are the “cannibals”. Their skin is faded and pale. Their eyes are bloodshot with massive pupils. Think of their appearance like “The Crazies” or the infected in “28 Days Later”. These aren’t mindless zombies though, they are as intelligent as they once were when they were living, but they share the hunger for human flesh like the previous mentioned infected. Behind the foreground cannibal, another two cannibals tie a dead human onto the hood of their large American pick-up truck. The way they tie up the body is the way you would string up a deer. The appearance of the other two cannibals isn’t important, just make them similar to the foreground cannibal.

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)

Cannibals…

Panel 8

panels 8-10 are the same set up as 1-3 on page 8. They descend vertically with panels 8-9 being the same size, and panel 9 being longer. – medium close up of Tyra struggling to get out of her shackles. Her hair still covering her face. She is framed left, leave space for speech bubbles right.

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)

They’re vermin, a reflection of a misfortunate past, not like us…

Panel 9

(same size as panel 8) Close up. Tyra yells at Chambers (her eyes directed slightly left). We now see her full face. She looks extremely angry.

Tyra

GET ME OUT OF THIS PRISON! (Really? I’m not even really reading anymore. Just skimming. This is all I have the strength for. Dialogue like this just saps it even more.)

Alec Chambers

Prison? Oh my dear, this isn’t a prison…

Panel 10

(same size as panel 3) – Chambers is in the foreground framed right (PUPPY KICK! [Sorry. Had to switch it up some.]). Only half of his face is in shot in this close up. His yellow eyes should glow on his heavily shadowed body (even though he is mostly in shadow, his grin should be visible. Two guards stand behind him (their eyes glow too) next to the entrance door. The door is now open with a team of four surgeons (dressed with white flu masks on and standard surgeon garment, google surgeon)(Really?). One of them is pushing a trolly with multiple surgical tools upon it. The tools should be as visible as (capitalize)chambers(apostrophe) grin so make them stand out by shadowing around them (The colorist should add a bit of glare on the metallic tools). The surgeon’s(surgeons’) eyes should also glow yellow.(You are really being bossy here.)

Alec Chambers (CONT’D)

It’s an operating room.

(You need to be sure that you are noting when a character is speaking off panel. This could get confusing for anyone working with you. Be aware of that in the future. Also, I can support the idea that there are variations within the zombie kingdom, but why are you bringing dinosaurs into it? Have you considered how wild animals that are actually alive today might work in place of the dinosaurs? You are asking readers to believe that, not only are the dead walking the earth, but we have brought dinosaurs back, killed them again, and now they are zombies who make people into zombies. All I am saying is you might meditate on how cool a zombie rhino could be before you marry the dino idea. Just a suggestion.)

Is it over? No. Okay. Buckling down…

PAGE 10 (4 panels) Panels 1-2 are tall thin and stretch vertically down the whole page. They take up one third of the page’s width. Panel 3 is panel-less and panel 4 should be two thirds bigger than 3.

EXT. PAGE 10 UNION, LOUISIANA – AFTERNOON

Union is an old western town in Louisiana with a small bit of that New Orleans charm. This scene is on the high street. Lots of little shops and the road should be very wide. I want this town to look very old fashioned (and in this time line, it looks ancient). It needs to look like something out of a western, the only difference is that this is a post apocalyptic world. Fill the streets with garbage, loose paper, run down cars and broken glass. All the windows should be smashed up or poorly boarded up (looking as if the boards didn’t help protect against the infected). This is a ghost town. There are a few roamers about, lurking in shops and creeping around corners. This wasn’t a highly populated area, it was a very small town. This is six months after the initial outbreak and it is extremely hot. The color aesthetic should be brown and sepia tone (think Book of Eli). The panels should be treated as a camera. The page goes from an extreme close up (panel 1) to a wide shot (panel 4). Treat the shots as if they were being zoomed out.(ARGH, okay… Louisiana is not part of the West. There are no ‘Old Western Ghost Towns’ in Louisiana. Not one. We have swamps, bayous, plantations, Spanish architecture, wrought iron, and shotgun houses. There is little to nothing “Western” about this state. If you feel strongly about this aesthetic, change locations. Most of this can go in a separate document.) (Even I know most of that, and I’ve only ever driven through LA. Research is your friend.)

Panel 1

(tall, thin vertical rectangle.) – extreme close up of a zombie biting into an alligator’s left side. You won’t really be able to make out that he is chewing on a gator on this page, as the panels are really focused on the zombies teeth ripping into flesh (you should add scales to the morsel though). The zombie should be male. He should have no lips, making his gums and teeth exposed. Add flies around the panel, and maggots in his teeth. He should have medium length hair, but, in strings due to decay.

NO COPY

Panel 2

(Same size as panel 1.) – close up of zombie pulling the tough flesh from the gator. This is less of an extreme close up, we can see the zombies full head now. He hasn’t ripped the flesh off, it should be stretching from the gator. He should be really struggling to rip this flesh off. Pulling with as much force as he can, bending his neck and facing upwards. (No way a zombie could take down a gator. They can run up to 40 mph for short distances, not to mention the fact that their jaws can break healthy bone, this thing would have snapped a zombie’s head off no problem. Where exactly would a zombie bite an alligator to bring him down? Zombies can’t use weapons, so you are positing that a mindless, slow, unarmed, decaying human brought down an alligator barehanded. Really?) (Well, weapons were used by zombies in Night of the Living Dead. That’s all.)

NO COPY

Panel 3

(Panel-less, behind panels 1-2 and 4.) – SFX: THWIP. Medium shot of an arrow being shot between the zombies(zombie’s) right eye.(What do you mean between the zombie’s right eye? Into that eye? Between his eyes?) A small bit of blood should be bursting from the arrows entry. The arrow is not going to pass through, it will stick halfway through his head. The flesh has snapped off of the gator’s body and it is flinging in the air.

NO COPY

Panel 4

(large panel.) – this is a wide shot revealing the archer behind the zombie, the zombie is still in a medium shot, but, a bit zoomed out). In the foreground, the zombie has dropped onto the gator (which still isn’t recognizable). He is facing down. The only part of the zombie we can see is half of the top of his head with the arrow (feather side which is an orange yellow) sticking out of it. Blood starts to drip around the now visible entry wound. About 10 yards behind the zombie, a red headed archer stands with her bow pointed towards the viewer (as if she just shot the arrow). This is Kat. Her long hair is pulled back into a pony tail which blows in the wind (right). She is wearing a pair of brown aviator sunglasses. Her attire Is made of a US Helicopter pilot’s jumpsuit, but she has modified it to help with the heat (the sleeves are ripped off at the creases, the trousers cut extremely short). She wears a parachute harness that has been reconstructed into a quiver (this and her full character sheet are in the Lost and Dead – Character Designs Folder). She has multiple pouches around her belt and two pistols (with holsters) strapped on a shoulder holster (the pistols should look like a futuristic version of a beretta). Her jumpsuit should be 2 buttons open, revealing the dog tags around her neck (also blowing in the wind). On her hands are fingerless tight black gloves. On her feet, short brown army boots. She is very pretty and a bit of a bad ass. She is standing in the middle of the high street. Behind her (framed right) stands Jake (lean, short black Mohawk with small buzz on the sides and scruff on his face. Looks like a skinnier version of Soap Mctavish from Call of Duty). He holds onto an AA12 (automatic shotgun, but make it more futuristic). His outfit consists of a large bullet proof vest with multiple pouches and shotgun shells layered around his shoulders (character design and individual details of his attire are in the Lost and Dead Character design folder). His vest is tan, and his military uniform is dark brown along with his boots. His fingerless military gloves are a dark blue and he wears a dark red, middle eastern scarf around his neck. The sleeves of his uniform are ripped off, exposing his arms. He has a holstered machete on his back and a holstered pistol around his right thigh. (Side note – Kat, Jake, Deb and Will each have the same radio ear piece. It is very small and looks like a blue tooth device. It will always be in the left ear.)(Pretty much everything here belongs in a separate document. I am a little shocked and disturbed to realize you have a character document. How much more could you have to say? Also a town would not be built close enough to alligator-infested waters for someone on main street to see one. Those animals stay close to water, so if you plan on keeping this detail make sure you put a body of water somewhere in the scene.)

NO COPY

INSERT PAGE BREAK.

PAGE 11 (5 panels) Panels 1-2 take up one third of the page (horizontally). Panels 3-4 take up the same room in the middle of the page and panel 5 is wide across the bottom third of the page.

Panel 1

Wide horizontal panel. Over the shoulder, high angle wide shot of Kat and Jake (who are facing left) standing over the dead zombie (which is now draped over the gator). The gator is now fully visible and you can see that most of its guts have been ripped out. Kat is framed Left, Jake is framed right and the gator with the zombie are in the middle of the panel. Kat has her foot on the zombies head as she pulls the arrow from its skull.

Jake

Yeesh, hate to think what that thing turns into.

Panel 2

Square panel next to panel 1 in the top right corner of the page. Close up of Kat’s hand stabbing the arrow through the alligators(alligator’s) eye into its brain. SFX: SHLANK

Kat

Lets(Let’s) not wait to find out.

Panel 3

Medium square panel – medium close up of Jake (framed right) with his left hand up to his left ear (he is using his headset radio so make it appear that he is trying to communicate on a radio). Behind Jake, (framed left) Kat cleans off her arrow with a dirty rag. Jake is looking up and over his left shoulder. His eyes look towards panel 4 (which is right next to panel 3).

Jake

Deb, how’s it looking from up there?

Panel 4

Wide horizontal panel – medium shot of Deb (framed right) looking through the scope of her large, futuristic sniper rifle (pointing into the foreground left) on top of a building. Deb has short brown hair (hidden under her backwards S.W.A.T. Cap) and light grey eyes. Her attire consists of a NYPD SWAT Team uniform (black elbow/knee pads, gloves, boots and vest with a dark blue uniform underneath). The pouches on her vest should be mostly sniper rifle mags, and a holstered pistol is strapped to her right leg. Her sleeves are rolled up to her biceps above her elbow pads (see character sheet in Lost and Dead CHARACTER DESIGNS Folder). In the reflection of her scope is a close up of a roamer.

Deb

So far(suggest comma) so good. A few dozen roamers here and there.

Panel 5

Long horizontal panel taking up the bottom third of the page – Extreme wide shot of Deb (framed right and pointing away from the reader) overlooking the town of Union (framed left). The town has shattered windows, unkept streets and bashed up cars all over the place. It should look like a riot took place half a year ago. Closer in view are Jake and Kat (bottom left but still small and in the distance.) A good 30 odd roamers should be scattered around the town (but less detailed than Kat and Jake).

Deb (CONT’D)

Nothing we can’t handle.

(Well, I have no idea what is going on. You have put together a string of three seemingly unrelated stories in 10 pages. Why? We’ve seen the ‘old’ man and the little girl with the dino-zombie-riding soldiers with their boxes full of zombies. We’ve met Chambers in his Antarctic laboratory as he experiments on poor, naked Tyra, and now we are in Old West Louisiana with a team of paramilitary-esque zombie slayers. I am not saying that you have too many moving parts; I am saying that you need to give people some idea that they fit together. Right now, your connective thread is zombies, but you have fast zombies, slow zombies, smart zombies, and mutant zombies, human zombies and animal zombies and even prehistoric zombies. Maybe you should consider refining your mythos a little, starting with a narrow scope and building out. Right now it seems that this is a zombiepalooza with little story to tell. Find your story and let the world reveal itself as it is relevant.)

THE END! We made it! Let’s run this down, so I can run away!

Format: You blew it. Format is simple: every element gets its own heading. All you have to do is just a little bit of research, but again, just like last time, you said “Ah, screw it.” So, no flawless victory for you.

Panel Descriptions: After a while, they just got stupid. Either undrawable, too hard to parse what the hell you wanted, or just extremely filled with crap that should have been somewhere else.

The panel descriptions need to do one thing: explain what’s going on in the panel. The panel descriptions have to be still images. The panel descriptions have to be drawn. They have to describe a scene. And they have to work together to tell a story. If they don’t do that, then you’ve failed.

So far, this entire thing is a failure. I didn’t even want to read what I had to say, so I didn’t say it. That’s terrible. That’s as terrible as this script.

Pacing: The double-page spread was placed correctly. That’s really the most positive thing I can say about the pacing. There is no pacing here. In 11 pages, there may be 250 words, maximum. Wait. I’m going to go back and count. Be right back.

189. There is less than a page of dialogue here to read in 11 pages, which means there’s nothing on the page that will keep the reader there longer.

Then you go from one thing to another to another, with none of them connected. What’s the point? How is a reader supposed to follow that? And then nothing of real import happens anywhere within these pages.

I’m willing to bet that people were more interested in what Sam and I had to say instead of what you were attempting to accomplish.

Dialogue: First, there isn’t enough of it. Second, what’s there doesn’t do anything to actually tell a story about what’s happening. Third, you’re trying to hard at the very beginning, which turns it into crap, and makes the reader want to run the other way.

The dialogue doesn’t accomplish anything. Zero, zip, zilch, nada, bagel… How can that be? How can you only have 189 words, and not a single one of them not be not worth the time it takes to read? How is that even possible?

Again, dialogue is supposed to support the art. It’s supposed to help tell the story. This doesn’t do a damned thing. If you cut all the dialogue out, there wouldn’t be much difference from what you have here.

Content: As a reader, I’d pick it up, see that there is a dearth of words, and then put it back down, probably wiping my hands on my pants. There is a mountain of absolutely terrible comics that get made. If this were actually produced, it would end up on that pile. Congrats! This is worse than mediocre.

Editorially, Sam hits the nail right on the head. Too busy, too crowded, undisciplined, not focused. It’s like you saw too many zombie movies, and decided to throw them all in the pot. Where are the Nazi zombies, like in Oasis of the Zombies? The only thing missing, really, were voodoo zombies (which is strange, considering you placed this in Louisiana).

A rewrite. Total. After more study. And stop making me punch puppies.

And that’s it for this week! Check the calendar to see who’s next!

Also, we’re still close to running out of scripts. We have only enough scripts to take us through the end of the year! If you want to have your script critiqued and don’t want to wait, now is the perfect time to do so!

Like what you see? Steve and Sam are available for your editing needs. You can email Steve here, and Sam here. My info is below.

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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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