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TPG Week 199: Not Enough Peanut Butter

| October 17, 2014

TPGFeatured_08

 

Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Jason Bonine. We also have Samantha LeBas in purple, I’m in the festive red, and we’ll all see how Jason does with

 

CHANCER#1

 

Le sigh… Okay. Right off the bat, this is at a font size of 10. I’ve saved all of your eyes, while my sanity is already beginning to crumble, and we just started. You’re welcome.

 

ONE

 

Panel 1: (splash page)

INT. CHARLIE’S APARTMENT. KITCHEN. DAY.

Close up Charlie (late 20s, bespectacled nerd.) lying on the checkered linoleum floor. We only see the Torso up, his eyes cloudy and uncomprehending. Syringe nearby on the floor. Arm tied off. He reaches for his dead mother’s hand. (She’s off camera, you only see her hand.) You could either go the spectral route, where it’s translucent and ethereal, or the more physical route, where’s slimy and covered in pustules. It’s your choice, of course. Captions should sort of float above his head.(Where is he looking? Out into space or toward his mother’s hand? We need to know if she is standing or lying on the ground beside him, as that will change everything about the way this page is composed.)

 

Caption1: I OD’ed once.

Caption2: It was an accident. I wasn’t trying to kill myself.

Caption3: That’s what I tell people, anyway.

 

(Your formatting has already made me not want to read this, and that’s a shame because the little bit or dialogue on this page is engaging. Lying, suicide, drugs, supernatural elements, relatable narrator. What’s here is good, but you are making me fight for it. I don’t want to fight for it. Hand it over.

 

What I mean by that is these descriptions should be organized and thorough. The font and underlining as a means of setting dialogue apart from the rest of the text were poor decisions, the small font size is not helping matters. Also you have neglected page breaks. There are a million ways this could have been done better with the tools you had, none of them required a great deal of effort, just some planning. Writing is planning.)

Okay, so we have P1, and I’m underwhelmed.

 

Let’s start with the obvious stuff first. The stuff Sam mentioned, and then we’ll get into other stuff.

 

Font size. Ten? Really? For me, that would be cause for an automatic rejection. Changing font size isn’t my job. It’s your job to think about the person who’s reading your words.

 

Underlining! What you’re doing to your letterer is making them hate you for all eternity and beyond. What’s the purpose of it? (That’s an actual question I’d like to have answered.) Why do you want your letterer to despise you by making them do extra work? Don’t. Really. Just, don’t.

 

When I was in high school, my earth science teacher was also the varsity football coach. This was my sophomore year. We were going to be taking a test of some sort, and he couldn’t be in the room to proctor it. He told one of the students “Don’t.” The student asked him “don’t what?” And the coach replied, “That’s the beauty of it. I can apply it to anything!” Then he walked out as we all laughed. The kid was a bit of an asshole.

 

Not saying you’re an asshole, Jason, but really…don’t.

 

Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty.

 

Your splash page is ineffective because your panel description sucks.

 

What are you trying to show? Guy is lying on the floor, right? He’s reaching, right? So why are you giving the artist a choice as to go physical or spectral? Who’s story is it, yours or theirs?

 

You have to take control of the story being told. By telling the artist they can choose which one they wish to show, you’re giving up the right to tell the story the way you want it. It becomes their story, not yours. If that’s what you want, fine. If it isn’t, then you have to fix it. Because I’ll tell you what, a story being told from the perspective of the ghost is much different from a story told by a living person. Make up your mind so the artist can do their job effectively.

 

Other than these gaffes, this page works. Could you add more dialogue? Sure. As long as it’s effective. This, so far, is decently effective. I’m interested enough to turn the page, so good on you there. Let’s see what the next page looks like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK (That sound you hear is the Flawless Victory slipping away.)

TWO

Panel 1: Charlie tries to pick himself up off the floor, but is unsuccessful.(What does this look like? I thought we were reaching for Mom? These actions don’t flow into each other.) (Moving panel.)

 

CAP: I started hallucinating.

 

Panel 2: C/U Charlie’s face as he intently studies his hands. The black goop drips from them. (What black goop?)

CAP: At first it was just shapes. Blobby, non-descript(nondescript) shapes.

 

Panel 3: Charlie’s dead mother kneeling over him, stroking his hair.(What are the character’s expressions like? Why doesn’t he interact with her, ask a question, say her name, etc.?)

 

CAP: And then it was my dead mother.

 

Panel 4: LARGEST PANEL. The inky blackness takes shape, devouring what’s left of the page. In the goopiness, we see the skull face that will become the Chancer mask. There’s no clear pattern at this point. The squares don’t form a face, so much as a black and white pattern.(This approach may be too subtle. If it is important enough to be drawn, it is important enough to be noticed, and I don’t know if this is readable.) (Prosaic. You’re talking about blackness, a skull, and then no clear pattern. Can’t have it all. Something has to give. This cannot be drawn, as described here.)

 

CAP: and then…and then…

 

 

(Yeah, I like your narration and that is the toughest thing to get right most of the time. I get a sense of Charlie just from these two pages. He is desperate, lonely and doesn’t trust people much; in fact, he may not trust himself. He’s unassuming, and seldom says what he is thinking. That’s something, to quickly convey character, really good job there. It’s not just his voice, but the way you present him that makes him work. You make him vulnerable in the beginning then bring in the mother to help us see him as someone we should care for, who needs to be taken care of, in a way. We know he is flawed, and that makes him relatable. He’s sharing secrets with us that he doesn’t share with most people, we are in on the joke, and that makes us get invested.

 

Your formatting and panel descriptions are definitely your limiting factors, but those can be fixed, that can be learned. What you have going for you is the stuff that is harder to fake.)

 

P2, and I’m still underwhelmed.

 

Moving panels, and really, we’re not getting much story. Your pacing is off.

 

We have to become invested in the story. What’s the story here? Dunno yet. It’s P2, there are four panels, but there’s no concept coming through just yet. And it’s moving fast. So far, a total of five panels over two pages, and not even fifty words between them. How are we supposed to get interested if we don’t have the words to accompany what’s supposed to be going on? You’re revealing some character, but where’s the story?

 

Slow it down. Add some words. Make us become invested in the story being told.

 

Now, your dialogue is pretty good. There isn’t much I would change about it, except to add more relevant dialogue to it.

 

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three

Panel 1: Largest panel.

Charlie in hell. We have a rocky, cavernous coast surrounding an all-black inky sea. Charlie is drowning in the sea, naked(How do we know he is naked if the water is black?). Standing on the rocks are a dozen skeletons.(Where are the rocks?) All the skeletons vainly try to masturbate. Charlie’s drowning in black water shaped like the Chancer mask. (Two large white squares for eyes. Four small small squares for a mouth on a black background.)(What POV would allow us to see this? How far out are we?)

 

CAP1 I was drowning in a sea of black bile.

CAP2: On the shore there were a dozen skeletons watching my every move.

CAP3: They were masturbating, but they didn’t have any genitals. It was all build up and no release. (No build up, just the gesture, there’s nothing to stimulate, I kind of hate you for making me think about that.)

CAP4: I was clearly in Hell.

 

Panel 2: C.U. Charlie’s face as he sucks in black water. He is completely gripped by panic.

NO COPY

 

Panel 3: C/U Charlie’s face. Struggling to breathe. We see that familiar checked floor underneath him, paramedic’s shoes near his head.(We are back in the apartment now, yeah?) (How is the artist supposed to draw “struggling to breathe”?)

 

NO COPY

 

 

Panel 4: EXT.APARTMENT. DAY. An ambulance drives away from the apt complex.

Medic standing in the foreground, only partially seen.(Why is there a paramedic hanging out at the apartments if the ambulance is driving away?)

(hit the return key, man.) Medic: Don’t need the siren. This guy’s a goner.

 

CAP: I awoke to a paramedic pounding on my chest, trying to restart my heart.(No one does precordial thump anymore, please.)(Especially a paramedic. They have automatic external defibrillators (AED’s) for that. TV will lead you astray, because they’re trying to be dramatic instead of authentic.)

 

(I am a little unsure about the masturbating skeletons. It is your fault that sentence exists in the world, I hope you are happy with yourself. There a question of gender, which is awkward to address. Also, even if this is hell… there are 12 of them there, why are they not just having a big skeleton orgy? What’s stopping them? All right, I have now spent officially too much time thinking about this. Moving on.)

 

P3.

 

The audience has now stopped caring. What could have been interesting has devolved into things being badly described and the story not moving in any manner that a reader would care about.

 

Lackluster, really.

 

Not only that, it’s moving too fast.

 

Three pages, and we’re only at 9 panels, and we may have only barely broken 100 words. I find that unacceptable, because there’s still no real inkling as to what the story’s about.

 

Words matter. This piece is clearly suffering from a lack of them. The reader isn’t going to be interested in the pictures, because there aren’t enough words to tie them all together.

 

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

FOUR

Panel 1: C.U. Charlie’s face. He seems at least a year or two older, but only a few weeks of intensive detoxing has occurred. He’s in his late twenties, kind of skinny and haggard.

 

Charlie: MY NAME’S CHARLIE AND I’M ADDICT. (Why change fonts now? What purpose does it serve?)

(Return)Panel 2: INT. CHURCH BASEMENT. DAY.HIGH ANGLE Several NA members sitting in a semi-circle on fold out chairs. Charlie is just off center, arms wrapped tightly around him. (Does the basement have windows? If not, why would we care what time of day it is?)

 

CAP1: It’s my third NA meeting, and I don’t want to talk. Not about the masturbating skeletons, the black ocean, or my mom.

 

You can do that, you know.(question mark) Not share.

 

Panel 3: EXT.CHURCH.DAY. A fine cathedral that stretches to the sky. HIGH ANGEL Several of the NA members walk out the back door. (continued) A priest (50’s, gray hair, benign smile.) calls out to Charlie.(Mention that Charlie is in the group and tell us where he is.) (Why are we outside now?)

 

CAP1: The biggest church in Hoebroken. We’re not allowed in the rectory. All the addicts congregate in the basement.

CAP2: We’re not good enough to enter God’s house.(Technically the rectory is the priest’s home, I think you mean the sanctuary)(Return)CAP3: You ask me, God’s house is drafty(comma) and it has bad plumbing. (Return)PRIEST: CHARLIE! A MOMENT? PLEASE?

 

(I actually like your pacing. As long as it is your intent to focus on Charlie, and you don’t abandon him later, I think it works. YOU HAVE TO DO A BETTER JOB FORMATTING. Your panel descriptions also need work, just put all of the information in. What you have makes sense, but there is not enough of it.)

 

P4, and at least someone likes the pacing. I still believe it is too fast.

 

Three panels on this page. Why? Why are you rushing?

 

Know what I believe? I believe you don’t have enough story to carry your page count, so you’re trying to stretch it. It’s like having only a little bit of peanut butter in the jar, and trying to spread it over the entire piece of bread. That’s what this feels like. And you know how that little bit of peanut butter is unsatisfying? So is this.

 

All I want is some story. That’s not asking for much. Give me a reason to continue reading. Give me some meat on these bones!

 

 

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

Five

Panel 1: High angel (HA! Funny.). Charlie and the Priest stand face to face, talking.

 

PRIEST: WE’RE SO PROUD OF THE WORK YOU’RE DOING IN THERE, BUT WE’D LIKE YOU TO SHARE A LITTLE MORE.

 

PRIEST2(colon)IT’S AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE RECOVERY PROCESS. (Why all caps now? Just for the priest?) (Different fonts, now caps… You have little idea of what you’re doing, don’t you?)

 

Panel 2: Tight shot. Priest and Charlie talking. His smile so big it looks like it hurts his face. Priest puts his hand on Charlie’s shoulder. (Who’s smiling?)

PRIEST: CAN YOU DO THAT, SON? FOR ME?

CHARLIE: Yeah, yeah. Sure. (Lower case lettering to represent mumbling)(But it’s all been lowercase until now.)

 

Panel 3:Charlie turns his back to the priest. Facing us. Not unlike the Spider-Man movie captures: http://screencrave.com/2011-01-13/first-official-photo-andrew-garfield-in-spider-man-suit/

The priest looks slightly flummoxed by his behavior. I want Charlie to have that classic kind of John Romita Sr. Angsty look Peter would have when he would literally turn his back to someone or something.

 

PRIEST: GOD BLESS YOU, CHARLIE.

 

Panel 4: High angel (Ha! Still funny!) shot. Charlie walking away from the priest.

 

CHARLIE: I’M SURE GOD’S GOT BETTER THINGS TO DO.

 

(You are doing a really fine job developing this character.)

 

P4, and you know what? This is the second page that I care about. However, it doesn’t do a damned thing to push the story forward.

 

Know what can be done? You could literally go from P1 to this page, and with a small bit of dialogue management, those pages wouldn’t even be missed. Know what that means? Those pages are padding.

 

However, in all, this story just isn’t being effectively told. It’s P4. What are you giving the reader in return for their attention? Not a single thing.

 

And the hell of it is that the dialogue is readable. A small polish, sure, but it’s readable. It just isn’t doing anything.

 

And watch your spelling. A “high angel” at a church? Funny.

 

 

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

 

 

Six

Panel 1: Longish “cinematic” style panel. Charlie walking through the neighborhood. He’s far left, expansive city stretches all the way across; HO BROKEN seems to either be under construction or marked for demolition. Nobody knows for sure. Mostly half finished buildings, planks for sidewalks. A little like the Rancid album cover ‘Life won’t wait.’

 

https://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q=rancid+life+won’t+wait+cover&gbv=2&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ei=ZsXuU-PIGM_9yQTU64K4Bw&ved=0CBQQsAQ

 

But decidedly longer.

 

CAP1: Hoboken,(space)N.J. Locally known as(comma) Hoebroken, N.J.

CAP2: Named after a mistress of a prominent bootlegger.

CAP3: This is where she fled to avoid prosecution after a failed kidnapping. (Make up your mind as to which font you want to use.)

 

Panel 2: Charlie walking, noticing a woman walking by.(You, me and anybody with eyeballs knows that this is not near about enough information. You are making me fuss you like an old Southern lady, now.)(Git ’em, Sam! Git ’em!)

 

CAP1: Rumor has it that she ran three blocks on a broken heel. When my buddy(comma) John(comma) told me the story, I didn’t get it.

 

CAP2: Wouldn’t you just ditch your shoes if the cops were chasing you?

 

Panel 3: Similar. (WHAT?! Yes, my head just ‘sploded. Similar to what? Oh. Em. Gee.) The inky blobs protrude on this panel, and we are transported to 1930’s Hoebroken NJ. An injured woman, dressed in that style of clothes running for her life. Being pursued by 30’s style gangsters, armed with tommy guns.(Interesting. Will this matter later in the story?) (I hope so. Otherwise, this is more padding for an extremely thin story.)

 

CAP1: He just laughed. “Wrong kind of heel.” He said.(Change period in quotes to comma, lowercase ‘h’ on ‘he’. (I—I—I don’t… READ A BOOK!!! There is NO reason why Sam should have had to explain this to you. I think all of my strength was just sapped…)

 

Panel 4: Another longer cinematic panel. C/U Charlie’s eyes. His forehead is beaded with sweat. His eyes wide with surprise/fear.

 

SINKED (OS)(OP?)HEY! CHARLIE!

 

CHARLIE: IT’S SINKED!(Is this a cap? Or does he greet this guy by telling him who he is?)

 

(I like the specificity of this memory. I like that it tells us about a relationship Charlie has, and about the place we are in. I like that it sets a tone of desperation, and echoes the theme of running away from your mistakes. Format your work more cleanly. Your story is interesting, but its difficult to read.)

 

P5, and really, I just want to stop.

 

There isn’t anything new here. There’s nothing interesting. I’m still waiting for the story to start. You have yet to have a page that has more than four panels. There’s no interest.

 

Guess it’s time for me to make some.

 

I joined the Marine Corps at 18. Right out of high school. The summer before I went in was the best summer of my life. I had some money from graduation, so I didn’t work, and I went in on Oct 13. I saw all of my friends off to college, and I just waited around. Didn’t even cut my hair in September, because it was going to be a waste of money.

 

That summer, hanging out with my best friend at the time as well as my cousin, we started playing a tabletop role playing game. It was a spy game. It was my first time playing an rpg, and we had some fun. No, we didn’t play it the way they meant it, I’m sure, but we had a good time, anyway.

 

So I go into the Corps, and I’m stationed in Japan. About six months in, I stumble upon some Marines playing Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. They asked me if I wanted to play, and I said sure! I’d seen E.T., I’d read Dragonlance books, so I wanted to see what it was all about.

 

I had some fun. It wasn’t truly my cup of tea, but I had some fun. We met on Friday’s.

 

One day, a few weeks after I’ve been playing AD&D, a guy in the lounge saw me reading comics. He said he also saw me playing AD&D in the same lounge. He then started to tell me a story, describing a world that needed the help of superheroes, and he mesmerized me. I have no qualms in admitting that.

 

He tells me he’s putting together a game, and it’s going to take some time to get through. I say I’ll be there, because I was interested as all hell. Right up my alley!

 

I had been creating my own heroes all my life. Now, I was going to not only create a hero, but play it, too! I let my good friend that I had made know about the game, because he was a comic reader, too. We went, and we met other people, and spent the night rolling up characters.

 

We used the original Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game. We were having a great time creating characters. My character’s name was Enlighten. She was a beautiful alien that had the Power Cosmic, and she had a prehensile tail that was rather thick, and that she could lay up against her spine and look more human. Flight, energy blasts, and the tail was also a weapon. Her job was to spread peace, but she wasn’t afraid to use violence to do it.

 

My friend? He created an angel. I forget the character’s name. But on the sheet, he misspelled angel as “angle.” Lots of jokes were had because of this. When he was sharp, he was acute, and when he was blunt, he was obtuse. Lots of jokes.

 

The game was a lot of fun. The guy was a phenomenal storyteller, and built up the game extremely well. These games were also on Fridays, so I quit going to the AD&D game. Many a game we played through the night until daybreak, and then went to the mess hall together for breakfast. It was a great time.

 

Basically, watch your spelling. That’s all.

 

And that story? Tangential to what’s going on here, but was much more interesting than what’s been presented here so far.

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

 

 

Seven

Panel 1:

*note: NONE of Sinked’s word balloons have pointers on them, indicating who said what. I’d like all his dialogue to float in the air. Making him a little more invasive.(evasive, words mean things. Also these are going to look like captions, the ref you have included shows a thought balloon. That is not what you want, is it?)

http://www.astronautacademy.com/comic/page-069/

 

Charlie’s POV. We see an overweight Vietnamese man. Forties. Bald with a bad comb over. He is wearing a button up SCARFACE shirt. (What is he doing? What’s his expression?)

 

Sinked1: HOW YOU DOING? AIN’T SEEN YOU AROUND LATELY!

Sinked2: HEARD YOU DID THE DETOX! AIN’T THAT SOMETHING?

 

Panel 2: largest panel.

C/U of the clear vial of crackrocks. Shaking it ever so slightly.(And now we’ve changed fonts!)(AGAIN!)

 

SINKED (OS) YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING. NOD. BLINK. AND IT’S YOURS.

 

FX: TINK! TINK! (the rattle inside the bottle. Something Charlie shouldn’t be able to hear over the street noise.)

 

Panel 3: C/U Charlie biting his lower lip.

 

NO COPY

 

Panel 4: Charlie running away from Sinked.

(Return) Sinked: JUNKIE, YOU AIN’T GOING TO LAST LONG.

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

(I don’t like this page, or think that it meshes with the rest of the story. You have handled everything with finesse until here. This is heavy-handed, you are yelling. LOOK! His demons are chasing him, but he doesn’t give in! LOOK! There is a softer approach that better suits your story so far. Having him run away is almost comedic. That doesn’t fit.)

 

P6.

 

That gal’s got stamina, folks!

 

This page? She’s right. It doesn’t fit. It’s out of the blue, and if there was any story to push forward, this wouldn’t be helping it. This is just spreading the peanut butter even thinner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eight

Panel 1: EXT. CHARLIE’S APARTMENT. DAY.

NO COPY

 

Panel 2: INT. CHARLIE’S APARTMENT. DAY. C/U Charlie slamming the door shut.(How do we get a close up of Charlie slamming the door? That seems like a full shot.)

 

SFX? (Not really needed. It could be shown in art. There hasn’t been any SFX yet, so why start now?)

 

 

Panel 3: C/U Charlie locking the door.

 

FX: CLICK!

 

Panel 4: Wide shot. Charlie looking out the window.(What does he see? Is this OTS, or outside the window looking in?)

 

NO COPY

 

Panel 5: Tighter shot of Charlie looking out the window.(What is his expression?)

 

Cation1: If you put the words “urban blight” into a search engine, my neighborhood is the first result. (Cation: a positively charged ion.)

 

 

Panel 6: EXT.CITY STREET. Trash everywhere.

 

Caption: All I ever see are empty pizza boxes and spray paint cans lining the streets.

 

Panel 7: Charlie tearing a map off the wall.(A map of what? Where is the camera here?)

Caption: Why can’t someone turn trash into treasure?

 

Panel 8: C.U. of Charlie ripping the map off the wall.(Why another shot of this? Nothing has changed.)

Caption: Detritus into an asset?

 

Panel 9: Charlie spreading the map on a table.

Caption: Shit into gold?

 

 

(All right, I am willing to go with it. He has a map, he’s got a plan. I’m curious.)

 

Holy hell! A page with six panels! Be still my heart!

 

I’m going to eat you alive when we run this down. Just be aware of that.

 

This page? More of the same nothing. There’s still no raison d’etre to be reading this. Who feels like going to get their teeth cleaned? That’s time better spent than reading this.

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

 

 

 

nine

Panel 1: Charlie is flattening it on a nearby table. On the table is a box containing chess pieces.(Like a coffee table in the living room or the kitchen table, you have really got to give us more here.)

 

NO COPY

 

Panel 2: Charlie placing chess pieces on the map.(You know better than this. There is no detail here.)

 

Panel 3: C/U of Charlie looking at the Knight piece. The piece is a reflective black surface, but he cannot see himself in it.(OTS?)

 

Charlie: A knight?

 

Panel 4: Charlie throwing the piece across the room.

 

NO COPY

 

Panel 5: Charlie picking up the pawn piece.

 

NO COPY

 

Panel 6: C/U of the piece. We can see Charlie’s reflection in it.

 

Charlie: Pawn is more like it.

 

(I think you have a really good grasp of character, you also understand how to pair visuals with words to get the most impact out of them. You need more detail in your descriptions. Plain and simple, it’s got to happen. I am not saying write a book for each one, just tell us where we are, where the camera is, and what the characters are doing. Was this a screenplay? I get the feeling it might have been, or was going to be.)

 

Ten

Panel 1: C/U of the map. Focused on the three blocks. Pawn is dead center, surrounded by several other, higher ranking pieces.

 

Charlie: OK. THIS IS WHERE I WORK. THIS IS THE KOREAN GROCERY STORE. THE LIBRARY. MOVIE THEATRE.

 

Panel 2: Detailing which piece is which dealer. SINKED, FAT MIKE, TONY THE BRONY, PROFESSOR SHIESTY, AND THIRSTY ROY.(This is not a drawable action, ‘detailing,’ is he labeling things? Which piece is which dealer? This is not a panel description, I don’t know what it is, but it does not tell us anything about what is happening. Are these names dialogue, captions, written down? Help us out here, we are trying to go on a journey with you.) (She’s really trying to help, but with this panel, I think it’s safe to say that this is crap. It circled the drain for a while, but this finally sank it.)

 

Panel 3: Charlie looking down at his piece. He is on the verge of freaking out. (How is this supposed to be drawn? What does this look like?)

 

Charlie: I’m surrounded! Surrounded on all sides! What the hell am I going to do?

 

Panel 4: Charlie lashing out in anger. (What does that even look like? It looks like you’ve just gotten lazy and are no longer trying.)

 

NO COPY

 

Panel 5: Charlie smashing the chess pieces, it smushes like clay instead of shattering like plastic. (How?)

NO COPY

 

Panel 6: Charlie enveloped by the darkness.(What does this look like?)

 

NO COPY

 

Panel 7: The darkness taking over the panel. Swallowing everything.

 

NO COPY

 

(Hello, I am an incredibly annoying broken record. Your formatting is an absolute mess and your panel descriptions are almost nonexistent. You can fix this. This is the worst set of descriptions I have seen yet in this script. You need to really think about what the artist needs to know in order to get the images swimming around in your head all nice and tied down on the blank page.

 

There is good news, you have a character, you have a knack for dialogue, and I think [and I am going out on a limb here, because we haven’t seen the big picture yet] you may have a story. Work on your craft, pay attention to your technique. Other people are only going to respect your work as much as you do. I suggest checking out Scrivener if you drive a Mac. It will take care of a lot of your formatting issues for you. I also suggest using a monotype font in a size that was not intended for ants to read. The work your descriptions need is up to you, there is no quick fix. Once you’ve become accustomed to describing your mental images, you will always know how to do it; like riding a bicycle, but with words.)

 

INSERT PAGE BREAK

 

 

 

 

Lord and Lady, she’s stopped! That means I can run it down!

Format: I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again—format is the easiest part of comic book scripting. There is no such thing as a standard format. The only standard is consistency. This format was consistently bad.

First and foremost, font size. There’s no reason for it to have been at a 10. I put it at 12 so that everyone wouldn’t get a headache while reading it, but I shouldn’t have had to.

Second are the page breaks. Put them in. If you don’t know how, learn.

Third is the changing fonts. Don’t.

Fourth is underlining the dialogue. Don’t.

Fifth is the number of the dialogue. You did it most of the time, and then you quit.

Sixth is the spacing between elements. You didn’t do it all the time. Sam had to put some in, and she shouldn’t have had to.

Six things wrong with the format. That’s a record.

Panel Descriptions: They went from confusing and undrawable, with some moving panels thrown in for spice, to just flat-out lazy and with sparse “details.” For the most part, none of these pages can be drawn.

Pacing: Unlike Sam, I’m not a fan of the pacing at all.

The first page is fine, except for the dialogue (and we’ll get to that). Then we take this weird trip for a couple of pages, and then we get to a church, and then we’re on the street, and then we run away back home…

Most of these beginning pages are 4 panels or less, and they don’t do a damned thing to tell us anything about the story.

In ten pages, nothing of real merit happens. Most of it is padding. I can cut left, right, and center, and none of it will be missed. Things are only missed when something happens. Nothing happens. Nothing will be missed.

Dialogue: This is literally the best thing about the piece. The dialogue was easily readable. There just wasn’t enough of it, and what little there was didn’t do much to push the story forward. Character was revealed, but the story? Not enough forward movement to keep the reader turning pages. Not enough interest garnered.

Content: As a reader, this is a waste of time. I’d be pissed off if I saw an interesting cover, and then the book itself is just a mix of being boring and being strange, without ever catching my interest.

Editorially, you need to make sure that the six problems that are wrong with the format are fixed first. That has to be fixed before anything else, because otherwise you’re going to cause people to have aneurysms. You don’t want that on your head. After that, you you can be taught how to tell an effective story in the format. You have an idea as to what to do, but you keep jacking it up something fierce.

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

 

Like what you see? Sam, Liam and I are available for your editing needs. You can email Sam here and Liam 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 [email protected] for rate inquiries.

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