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TPG Week 214: Poncing Around

| January 30, 2015

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Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of the Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Alex Hutchins! We also have Liam Hayes in blue, and I’m the snarky one in red. Let’s all see how Alex does talking about

Michael’s Wolf

Page 1

Panel 1: A man (Michael) is walking down the long corridor of a darkened hospital, we can only see the back of him. It is night time and the hospital appears abandoned. A large cobweb can be seen to Michael’s right at the first of two doorways leading off the corridor. The wall to his left is high and dark, almost over shadowing him. (The wall to his left is the same size as the wall to the right, surely? Unless this hospital is lopsided?) (Le wow! Talk about a sentence that makes no sense! Felix, what’s wrong with this sentence, in context of everything that’s gone before it?) A window at the end of the hospital corridor lets moonlight beam through it (the only light illuminating the panel). Michael wears a fine tailored suit, one hand in his pants pocket. His hair is pushed back, sleek and powerful, almost like he had fallen straight out of the television screen during an episode of Mad Men. We can only see the back of him here. (To be honest, I’m almost ready to set the Line of Demarcation right here. Wow.)

Caption: One million dollars by twenty-one.

Panel 2: We get a view of the side of Michael walking down the corridor, Michael has a handsome face with a strong defined jawline and chiselled features, jet black hair and broad shoulders, stands six foot three inches. (Put character description elsewhere.) He looks forward with a calm demeanour, calm, but not happy. (Nonchalant?) He’s carrying a lot of resentment in his face, formed into a small scowl. (Calm and scowling? Pick one.) A doorway (What’s beyond the doorway? Darkness?) on his right has a creepy voice coming from it. The letters in the Speech bubble should appear in a small font to indicate its low volume. (Those last two lines are instructions for the letterer. They don’t belong in a panel description.)

CREEPY VOICE

Psssst

Caption: Twenty million dollars by twenty-five.

Panel 3: View from the front of the man, (The man? Where’s his name gone?) he has stopped and turned his head towards where the voice is coming from, still carrying his calm demeanour. The creepy voice is coming from the second doorway on his right. (Why didn’t you specify which doorway beforehand? Also, this is more letterer direction. Put it where it belongs.) He turns his head to see where the voice is coming from (He already did this. He’s already facing the door. What you’ve done is gone and made this a moving panel.) with his hand still in his pocket. The words in this speech bubble coming from the room should have slightly bigger font to show Michael has moved closer to where the sound is coming from. (Letterer direction.)

Caption: I am considered an entrepreneur, a man of success, built myself from the ground up. I have everything anyone could ever want.

CREEPY VOICE

Pssst

Panel 4: A view looking up at Michael, from the ground up making him look overpowering and dominant in the situation. (Where? Why? What’s the point of this panel?)

Caption: Adoring beautiful wife, millions in the bank and a lavish house. Yet now I’m basically a garbage man, a thirty year old fucking garbage man cleaning up the streets and taking out trash. Trash like this poor excuse for a human. (That’s a big chunk of text. Break this up a little. You can start with moving “Trash like this poor excuse for a human” onto the panel where we actually see the person he’s talking about. As you have it, nobody is going to know who he’s referring to.)(Not wretched, but definitely not good. The entire caption, that is.)

CREEPY VOICE (Where’s this coming from?)

Glad you could make it.

MICHAEL

You were expecting me?

Technical errors aside, this isn’t a bad start. However, the pacing is a bit off. This page is essentially four panels of guy walking down a dark corridor. To remedy this, I’d put the first panel of page two as the last panel on this page, and I’d put the “Trash like this poor excuse for a human” line on that panel. Then you’ll have a little hook.

P1 is down!

I’m almost interested. That’s why I’m underwhelmed.

This isn’t the best first page. There’s no reason at all to turn the page. I see what Alex did: he tried to build interest by having this walk down the corridor, and then the small conversation with one person outside the room, hiding the second party.

My problem is that it’s boring.

I wish there was a way to visually show an echo in comics. That would be so helpful.

The reason I say that is because there’s no sound here. If this person is dressed as nicely as you say, he’s going to have on nice shoes. And we all know what nice shoes are going to do on a linoleum floor: you’re going to hear clicks as he walks. Those clicks are going to echo. That would let the second party know where the first party is, and would be reason enough for him to announce his location the way he does. Otherwise…he could be “psssst”-ing for hours.

I’m also not a fan of the repetition. Yes, he’s made money. Does he have to mention it three separate times? Can’t he say something about how he made the money? Or the hardships (if any) that he went through in order to make the money, or appreciate it?

I’m bored, and it’s the first page. I’m not happy.

Page 2 (No page break. This loses the Flawless Victory. Shame.)

(No page breaks is no good. Seriously, does anyone read TPG before submitting? This sort of thing can be avoided with the tiniest amount of research. It boggles the mind.) (It might be that people don’t care.)

Panel 1: The view goes to where the creepy voice has come from, a spindly wiry man sits on the floor leaning his back against the wall, head looking up at the ceiling. He wears a white polo shirt tucked into dorky green trousers. He looks like a cliché creepy IT guy, complete with comb over and pens in his shirt pocket. His glasses are wire rimmed, as though he hasn’t replaced his glasses in twenty five years. A window above the creepy man lets moon light cast an eerie glow on the man sitting on the floor. We can see a full bright moon through leafless branches eerily stretched across the moons full pale face. (Getting prosaic with that last line. Say it should be eerie, the artist will do the rest.) (It’s just a bad panel description. Let’s see… Let’s see… Let’s get a two-fer! Rin (because you knew it was comin’!) and Josh! Please rewrite this panel description. We’ve got 114 words here. Please keep it under 50.)

Caption: They always start out confident, (Full stop instead of comma.) they’ll beg before it ends, they all do. (I hate you, Alex. Right now, I hate you. I hate you, and all writers like you. What I want is simple. Learn. To. Use. Freakin’. Punctuation. It isn’t hard. And it makes the job of the editor that much easier.)

CREEPY VOICE (He’s more than a voice now.)

Well, of course, not you specifically. No, not the town’s leading entrepreneur, Michael De Lys, that is a surprise. (Ouch. That line is so on the nose, I want to cry.) Everyone knows there’s someone in this town bringing in their own form of justice. You though, that’s something no one would believe. Although, it doesn’t matter who it was, I knew my time had come, I knew you’d follow me here. (Another wall of text that needs to be reduced or cut up. This one is worsened by that fact that its on a six panel panel.) (60 words in here. Really? I don’t understand it. Know what? ‘Splode.)

Panel 2: A view from the back of Michael’s bust, (Full stop.) the creepy man sits on the floor leaning against the wall, his head has looked forward now towards Michael. (That’s a really awkward way of saying the guy is looking at Michael.) Michael keeps his calm demeanour intact. (How do we know that? We’re behind him.) He is currently between taking his suit jacket off, the collar has come half way down his back. He is edging his shoulders out of the suit jacket carefully as if not to crease his loved belongings. (If we’re only seeing his “bust”, that’s just going to look like his jacket is falling off. Show us his entire torso for this.) (How can we tell “careful” from “normal”? Proasic. Know what? Line of Demarcation.)

Caption: Here comes the defence, (Full stop.) he says he’s at peace with himself and his inevitable demise, (Full stop.) no one is though. His last pleading (Plea.) for an alternate fate. Won’t work. (Oh dear. The captions are turning awfully cliché.) (I’d ask if anyone else’s mind has been rended, but seeing as how everyone is on the floor holding their heads, methinks the answer is obvious.)

CREEPY VOICE

But this isn’t right (Comma.) you know? You can’t just go around deciding people’s fate.

MICHAEL

Well you can’t go around raping kids and getting away with it. The judicial system might allow that, but I won’t.

Panel 3: Michael is holding the suit jacket folded neatly under his right arm and is now undoing his belt with his other unused hand. What we can see of Michael is in the background, the focus of the panel is the face of the creepy guy, now his face is turned to his right looking away from Michael, (There’s no space for this shot. He’s leant against the wall so the camera is going to be inside it.) almost as if the last statement slapped him, every crease in the creepy guys face is apparent. His glasses shine in the moonlight. Michael doesn’t look at the other man, he’s insignificant, Michael is just here to do a job. (What does he do then? What’s his expression?) (This panel cannot be drawn. Plotz-gal! Why not?)

Caption: Nothing will work now. I’ve already made my decision. He knows that. (Why is he saying this? The creepy guy knew his time was up. He’s not even making a plea for his life. Michael is just spouting these lines apropos of nothing.) (That’s because once you get up a full head of bad-writing steam, you gotta get it all out! We’re just along for the ride. Who brought the motion sickness bags?)

CREEPY VOICE

I didn’t mean to hurt them. I just wante- (Double dash.)

MICHAEL

Shut up.

Panel 4: A birds eye view of the room, Michael has taken off his pants, he’s now folding them in his arms. The jacket lays perfectly folded to the side. (On what?) The creepy man puts his arms against the wall as though he was bracing himself for some sort of incoming force. He’s now looking towards Michael. Michael doesn’t register, he’s still not interested, it’s just another chore in the day to get past. (Prose, that.) The first caption goes to the top left of the panel, the creepy voice in the middle of the panel then the last caption on the bottom right of the panel. (Letterer direction.) (Unless this is necessary, you could, I don’t know…let the letterer do their job, maybe? Just a suggestion.)

Caption: Won’t stop him though, (Full stop.) I’m surprised he hasn’t played the ‘god card’ yet. (That’s okay. The readers are all playing it for you…)

CREEPY VOICE

You’re not god! You can’t do this! (This line right here? This line makes me think I should have set the Line of Demarcation right at the Page 1 label…)

Caption: There we go.

Panel 5: A closer view of Michael unbuttoning his shirt, his pants now folded perfectly sitting on top of his cleanly folded jacket. His shirt falls low past his waist towards his thighs. He still doesn’t look to the creepy man, he’s so unthreatened by the man that he doesn’t care what he does, like a sleeping Rottweiler doesn’t worry about a passing mouse, Michael doesn’t worry about the man, he looks towards his buttons instead. (Oi… This is not drawable panel description. This is prose. You’re literally writing prose here.)

Caption: I don’t know why I talk to them before killing them, (Full stop.) guess I like the thought that these people are scared first. (Comma.) That they get a bit more of a comeuppance.

MICHAEL

God? If there was a god they wouldn’t have let you into this world, they would have taken you out of society as soon as the synapses in your brain passed that very first depraved thought around your skull. He’d have put you down just like we do to animals that don’t fit into our society. (Pompous. That’s the world I’m looking for here. This bit of dialogue is pompous. It’s hot air. It doesn’t say anything, really. Not about the story, nor the character. It’s also incredibly blunt and on the nose.) (And bad. Not wretched, but definitely terrible. And it feels like we’ve been on this page forever.)

CREEPY VOICE (OFF-PANEL)

Put me down? You’d treat me like a dog? Put me down like a stray? (I’m just happy that we’re kinda close to the end of this… This is only P2, and I’m ready to bolt!)

MICHAEL

No, they go peacefully, (Full stop.) this won’t be peaceful. Not for you anyway.

Panel 6: An extremely close view of one of the buttons barely hanging by a single thread on Michael’s suit jacket. The button is circular with a symbol and writing on it. The symbol is in the middle of the button. It’s a picture of an all seeing eye in the middle of a pyramid, the writing circling the symbol reads: Illuminated. A speech bubble comes into the panel from Michael, the tail of the bubble should point upwards indicating it’s from him. (Letterer direction.) (So, you have a guy who’s dressed extremely well, and he doesn’t notice the button that’s barely hanging on? No, it’s okay. It just goes right in with the rest of the stupidity that’s already here.)

MICHAEL

You don’t deserve peace.

I’m bored now. This page was just a load of hot air. We’re waiting for you to kill this guy, and you’re just spouting terribly cliché pseudo-philosophical nonsense. You also seem to be having trouble with your punctuation.

P2 is finally done!

I’d ask for a show of hands for who else felt this was interminable, but, really, it’s not that important.

This page does a whole lot of nothing. One guy takes off his clothes for some reason, and another guy is sitting on the floor, waiting, for some unknown reason.

In an abandoned hospital. How do we know it’s a hospital? No idea.

Anyone who’s read this column for a while knows that I’ve watched a lot of movies. I mean, I watch a LOT of movies. Not just the good ones released in theaters, either. The direct to video gems, too. I’ve loved horror movies from the first time I’ve seen them. Don’t ask me what my first horror movie was. I don’t know.

So, with all this viewing I’ve been doing, I’ve come to recognize certain things.

This piece? We’re two pages in, and it looks like a bad movie from The Asylum. (You know The Asylum—they’re the production company that continues to give Dee Wallace work. Dee Wallace? Her three claims to fame are E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Howling, and Cujo. Faint bells ringing?) The Asylum’s biggest boon is that, despite how terrible their films are, they manage to get produced.

This? This will manage to get produced, if the writer throws money at an artist.

The pacing here is terrible. I understand that at least one of the characters is supposed to be crazy, knowing he’s going to die…but he’s just going to sit there and wait for it? And they’re just going to let someone take off their clothes while they converse? Is it just me, or is that weird?

When I got out of the Marine Corps, I was searching for a job. Something that paid decently, and that I could do. I’d had a decent amount of experience being an administrator of sorts, dealing with paperwork and being a secretary. Excuse me—administrative assistant. I could type, I could take minutes at a meeting, I could put out fires as they came up, and I could put together a monthly document that was seen by the brass.

I also had some experience as a security guard. I went to Marine Security Guard school—the school where you learn to defend US embassies around the world—but I didn’t successfully graduate. One of the few times I’d ever failed at something. On top of that, I’d also been part of the security force for one of the bases I was attached to, and I had gotten an outside job as a security guard at another base. So you could say I had experience and some training in security.

So as I looked for a job so I could feed my family, there were lots of options available to me. I joined a couple of temp agencies, as well as a security agency.

One of the jobs I went on as a security guard was to wait in a room while some people were fired. I wasn’t dressed in a uniform, but I looked very neat and professional. But I had nothing to do. I didn’t know it was going to be an all-day affair. I was there “just in case.”

Understand this: black people make white people nervous. Here I am, a grown man, skinny, unassuming, glasses—and as I sat in the room, bored, one of the men came in and brought me some newspapers and magazines for me to read, because I was making other people nervous as I sat there, bored. (I asked for a pen and some paper and worked out a few stories while I was there.) (And as another aside—nothing happened. The people were fired, no one was upset, and I went home safe and sound.)

Another job I went on as a security guard, I was looking for a permanent position. The head of security was an attractive woman, and she had her own office. I remember her being a little flirty.

Now, she had a guy who reported to her, and I’d be reporting to him. He was Muslim, and she told me two things: first, she said she would never fire him because she liked him, he did his work well, and Muslims from his part of the world were having a terrible time because of 9/11 (which was still extremely fresh); she also said she could see me being a supervisor in no time, because I was intelligent and attentive. She could easily see me having a career in security. I swear I felt like she was going to ask me out for a drink after work.

I got out of security because it wasn’t paying enough. I was married and had three kids—two of them toddlers. One of the temp agencies sent me to an adjunct of a hospital, where they did fundraising. It was a temporary job, but I impressed them mightily because I was doing things before it was asked of me. It was pretty easy. I got more comic book work done there during my lunch breaks. I was there for about two or three weeks, and even though I was looking for a permanent position, they had already hired someone for the position I held. I trained her, which was no problem.

But while I was there and working, there was a woman who had caught my eye. Attractive, which was fine, but she caught my eye because I had always found her looking at me whenever she came around.

Now, I wasn’t the only drop of chocolate in the place. One of the women I worked with was black, and in the woman’s section, there was a black guy who wore sweater-vests. So while I was new, I wasn’t a novelty.

My “fame” had spread. I was good at what I did, intelligent, didn’t make the same mistake twice, hated making the first mistake…and I was looking for a job. That word had gotten around, and the woman who had caught my eye was the leader of her section. She was looking to replace someone in her section because they weren’t pulling their weight. So she interviewed me.

It was the strangest interview I’d ever had.

We sat in a room together, door closed. And we talked. We talked about everything—the weather, driving conditions, my military experience, how I liked the job, the job she was interviewing me for…

Then she asked me a question about family life. She said she had a daughter who was nine and that she was a good girl but could be a handful on occasion. I then mentioned my wife and three kids, and she interrupted me with two words.

You’re married…”

She had sounded like her entire world had ended. Extremely disappointed. It was almost hilarious. Definitely strange. (Just to finish out the story: I didn’t take the job when it was offered to me about a month later. I was working as a temp for Cabelvision, and was hoping to get a job there, because they were looking to hire, and taking the job offered would have cost a decent amount of money in gas—or caused the family to move.)

I’ve just told two stories. Both of them had elements I’d consider a touch strange—at least from my point of view. Both of them were more interesting than what we’re being forced to read at the moment. You’re all welcome.

(Page break.)

Page 3

Panel 1: A close view of the shirt folding in the hands of Michael. Michael is wearing his wedding band, it is a plain silver ring. (I let you get away with the button, since that’s so small nobody’s going to notice it, but a ring? Yeah, that’ll need to be described when we first see Michael.)

Caption: I’m getting bored of this, (Full stop.) he’s had enough of life I think.

CREEPY VOICE (OFF-PANEL)

But I’m a regular human being!? (What’s with the question mark? Is he unsure if he’s a regular human being?)

MICHAEL

Well, that makes one of us I suppose.

Panel 2: A view of the creepy man from the point of view just behind Michael’s feet, the corner of the pile of neatly folded clothes in view, the creepy man cowers lower into the floor.

MICHAEL

Now if you’re quite done (Comma.) I would like to get this over with, (Full stop.) I have other matters to tend to.

Caption: Just another minute, it’ll all be over, for tonight.

Panel 3: A closer view of Michael holding his hands up to his face, curling himself over. (Curling himself over? What the hell does that mean?) All of his muscles contracting. His largely muscular frame tenses and all the sinews and strands of muscle under his skin swell and become obvious.

Caption: It’s always painful, I’ve never gotten used to it, but it needs to be done.

Panel 4: A side view of Michael standing but crunched downwards as though wielding (Yielding.) in pain. His hands have grown, claws have burst through where his fingernails were meant to be. Fur sprouts from his arms and back, his fur stands on end. His sides explode with hair, this panel show his first stage of Transformation. (This is a whole lotta moving panel. Rewrite so it isn’t.)

(All this happens in silence?)

Panel 5: A view of the creepy man looking shocked and terrified, trying to merge himself through the wall he’s cowering so emphatically. The shadow of the enormous, intimidating werewolf is thrown on the wall next to the creepy man. (Shadow being thrown? No. Schuyler, you didn’t think you were getting away, did you? Why is this impossible?)

(His fear is a silent one.) (The pain is silent, too.)

Silent panels make not for good page turns. I’m bored and would have put this down by now. However, since we’ve struggled past your dialogue and pacing, we might as well get some werewolf action out of it.

P3, and we have a werewolf!

I will tell you what—everyone who’s written a werewolf story has been chasing An American Werewolf In London, whether they want to admit it or not. For over 30 years, creators have been trying to get as close as they can to the transformation of David into the werewolf. To my mind, no one has been successful. I mean, that was so well done that they created an Academy Award category for Best Makeup. How deep is that?

I can live with a page of transformation. What I can’t live with is the abundant comma-fail that’s within this entire piece.

Punctuation isn’t hard, folks. I don’t understand how “writers” manage to screw this up time and again. Don’t you have any self-respect? Don’t you want the respect of your contemporaries or peers? How difficult is it to learn how to use a comma and a period?

I’d pull my hair out, if I had any. Well, I do, but you’re not getting my eyebrows. Some things, a man just has to keep for himself, you know?

Again, I can live with a page of transformation. What’s terrible is the dialogue. I want that to transform, too. Transform into something good. Something worth reading.

Ah, who am I kidding? This is comics. We deal in fantasy… I guess readable dialogue in this piece is one of mine.

Page 4

Panel 1: An entire page dedicated to the final transformation of Michael into the werewolf, he stands upright, palms facing up, claws shining in the moonlight. His jaw is open and tongue visible. He looks like an excited dog that spies leftovers coming his way from the dinner table. His whole body is covered in thick shiny fur, his huge muscular body now towers over the helpless creepy man. (Cut the creepy man from this panel. Have Michael as the focus.) (Can’t. In order to show the werewolf, you have to show the man, too. The reason for that is blocking. If we want to see Michael head-on, then the camera has to be from the pov of the man. We should see some of him, at the very least. What’s terrible is that this is a pose. I understand it, but still, it’s a pose. The werewolf is posing for the camera. Put some Calvin Klein jeans on him, or something.) Michael’s ears have pricked up pointy and straight, transfixed on his prey. His clothes sit neatly behind him folded and placed carefully.

Caption: His time has come. (And it only took three pages of poncing around.) (PONCING! I love it!)

I don’t know about the whole page dedicated to a werewolf. As revelations go, it’s not surprising or interesting. I’d have put it as a hook to page three. Who isn’t going to turn the page to see this guy get ripped to shreds?

P4, and we have a werewolf.

I like the fact that we get the full page splash on an even-numbered page. That tells me that, despite evidence to the contrary, some studying has been done. I like it when writers study. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

What I’m not liking is the dialogue, and the fact that there isn’t a sound effect to be had. Hell, no one even screams! If there’s pain, where’s the scream? Where’s the growl?

Sound takes us deeper into the story. Since comics don’t have sound, we have to do what we can to approximate it. This piece would benefit (slightly) from having sound effects.

Page 5

Panel 1: A view from the back of Michael towering over the helpless creepy man, (Full stop. You were nearly there with the capital letter.) His back slightly arched and claws flexed and waiting, (Full stop.) the creepy man cowers into the floor. Moonlight illuminates Michael’s werewolf face, his large limbs and torso cast a shadow on the floor.

CREEPY VOICE

No! Please I’ll change I just need time, please! (Punctuation here is all over the place. Learn where commas and full stops should go.)

Panel 2: A view of Michael raising his claw, still standing over the creepy man. His jaw’s open and tongue hanging out like a hungry dog. His claws shine in the moonlight. (An apostrophe? This is me, hanging my head in shame.)

CREEPY VOICE

Please…… No…… (Fuck me running! An ellipsis has three periods. Three. Anything more, and you’re just setting up for baby lemurs to be punched in the dick.)

(Arghk. This whole thing is being drawn out to threadbare proportions, and I don’t even know if what I just said makes sense.)

Panel 3: We have a close view of fully transformed werewolf Michael having thrust his claws deep into the face of the creepy man. He has severed into the mouth of the creepy man, the creepy man’s eyes are wide and horrified. His face from the mouth down is covered in too much blood to seen.

(All in silence.)

Panel 4: A view of Michael devouring his prey, we can see the back of him arched over the creepy man’s body, the wall where the man is sitting is surrounded by smudges and splatters of blood. Michael’s body has blood splattered over his right side. We can’t see the mangled body of the creepy man under Michael’s large werewolf body.

(Silent running.)

Panel 5: An ext. view of the large three storied hospital, it’s bathing in moonlight from the full bright moon above. In the window of the second last room of the top floor on the furthest right we can see a silhouette of Michael, as a werewolf howling, heaving himself upwards and raising his head towards the ceiling. A large leafless tree stretches to the top of the hospital and its spindly braches reach wide across the windows of the hospital. Large SFX letters come from the top of the hospital showing how loud Michael is howling. (That’s not SFX. That’s dialogue. Also, letterer direction.)

MICHAEL

AWWWOOOOOOOOO!

Werewolf story: Meh. Drawn out, uninteresting werewolf story: MEHHRG. This was way to drawn out to be of any interest. This should’ve lasted no more than three pages.

I think the vigilant werewolf thing you’re going for could work, but you need to come at this opening a different way. What you have here lacks interest and intrigue. Perhaps have us empathise with the child molester (yes, I did just suggest that) by keeping that piece of information from the readers until the guy is dead. Then what we get is some poor schmuck getting ripped to shreds who the reader will hopefully feel sorry for. Then you reveal the truth, fucking with the reader’s heads and putting a decent spin on the whole werewolf thing. You could start with Michael in werewolf form which’ll add to the effect, since readers may believe its a feral. Anyway, that’s just a suggestion to make this scene pop.

And cut those god-awful captions. We have enough pontifical internal monologues in comics. Work on your punctuation, too.

Let’s just run this down, so we can all run away!

Format: You could have had a Flawless Victory. You neglected to put in page breaks. This and punctuation are the two most harped upon things I’ve come across since I’ve been doing TPG. Personally, I don’t understand it.

Panel Descriptions: They’re doing more harm than good, in some cases. You place the camera badly at times, for no real reason other than to try to break up the flow. It isn’t helping you.

There are also some moving panels in there. Those are easy to fix, though.

Pacing: The Titanic sank faster than this thing moves. (I’ve never seen the movie. Even though Kate Winslet is hot, and I guess she gets nude, I’ve never seen the movie. I have no intention of seeing it. How’s that for pacing?!)

None of this makes sense. A guy tracks another guy to a place, is recognized by the guy he tracked as someone who’s wealthy, and then they talk for an extremely long time while one of them gets naked, and then the other guy is killed…

Five pages for this? No. Maybe if it were better written, sure, but as it is, no. This should have been three pages at the most—to include the splash page. What’s the conversation for? I’ll tell you why you have it: you wanted to give your werewolf’s name. That’s the only reason. Everything else said is an attempt to be interesting as you drag out the killing. It doesn’t work.

Dialogue: Terrible, without being wretched. I don’t know how you did it, but it’s true. None of this dialogue is good. None of it. Only the beginning approaches being adequate, and that’s because it’s the beginning, and the reader doesn’t know what they’re getting into. As soon as they get to panel 2, they’re no longer interested in what’s being said—they’re interested in just how far down the rabbit hole goes. It goes pretty far, but it never reaches the depths of wretchedness.

Now, with that being said, all of it needs to be cut out and rewritten, but the themes of the discussion that get put back don’t need to be there. Most of what’s written is crap. That’s the long and the short of it.

As I read this, I had fantasies of tracking you down, and then forcing you to go back to school to learn how to use punctuation. Chaining you to a desk, slathering you in butter, and then have a 70 year old English teacher start over in teaching you the building blocks of language while dressed as Britney Spears, and all of the lessons set to “Oops, I Did It Again.” Complete with dance routines, of course.

Punctuation is important. It’s how we express ourselves in writing. Words help with usage and placement, but really, the heavy lifting is done by punctuation. If that weren’t the case, we wouldn’t need anything more than the period/full stop, now would we?

Learn how to use punctuation. The dialogue can then get polished just by thinking differently.

Content: As a reader, I’d wonder how this got to the shelves. There is a line of quality that goes into seeing a comic on the shelves at any decent comic shop. This falls below that line. Just bad execution. It would make me either stay away from the creator or the publisher, if I had somehow bought this. I’d also write and ask for a refund of double what I paid, because I’d want to be compensated for my time. Triple, if I also wanted to be compensated for the mind-rending I’d been subjected to.

Editorially, this needs to be completely rewritten. Not just that, but re-thought, as well. What’s the best way to open the story, that both makes sense and is intriguing. Liam gave a very viable idea. I’d probably even take it further than he did: start with the wolf, do the tracking and the killing, and then reverse the transformation, letting readers in on the secret. I’d probably keep it silent to start with, building the suspense as to what’s going on until the last possible instant. (This goes against my prohibition of new writers starting a story silently, but the caveat would be that this would be done under supervision.)

But, as Liam said, you ponced around for five pages. This isn’t good.

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.

Click here to make comments in the forum!

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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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