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TPG Week 229: Jabs & Body Blows

| May 15, 2015

TPGFeatured_08

Welcome back to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Shawn Milazzo. We also have Samantha LeBas in purple, and I’m the lazy guy in red. We’re all going to see exactly what Shawn does with

Blade Bunny

Comic Page #1

(4 Panels)

Panel 1: Day. Kyoto is positioned with her left side of her body facing into the portal, on the left of the panel. We see Kyoto being yanked out of the portal as she is about to completely walk through it. Bunny’s arm pulls her to the right side of the panel.(Facial expression?) (Okay, a few things: first, I’m in a white void. There’s no background here at all. Second, if this is happening to the left of the panel, and her left side is facing toward a portal, then her back is to us. If she’s a main character, then there’s no real reason for her back to be to us on P1, panel 1. Third, there’s no way the reader will be able to tell she’s about to do anything. The only thing we can see and know is that she’s being pulled to the right.)

Kyoto: Huh?!

Bunny *off-screen*: Hey, let me go first! (I’d rather parentheses than asterisks, but I won’t call it a mistake. Parentheses are my personal preference. )

Panel 2: Day. Bunny takes Kyoto by the hand and runs into the portal first.(Facial expression?) (Moving panel, and this makes no sense at all. I’m lost. There’s still the white void, and are we talking about the same portal or a different one? I’m feeling the Line of Demarcation starting to speed toward us. Not good when this is the second panel on P1.)

Bunny: First time for everything!

Kyoto: But I thought you said you been here before.

Panel 3: The two fall into a colorful cosmic spiral.(Expression? Still holding hands? Body position?)

Bunny: AHHHH! You should know me well enough by now to tell when I’m lying.

Kyoto: Where are all of the hammers?!

Panel 4: Day. A portal opens up in a blue sky. Puffy clouds can be seen here and there. This is a far away shot that makes the two look fairly small and about to fall to their death. (Moving panel. How can we get this to be still yet still get the effect across, Rin?)

Bunny: I don’t know you tell me! (There’s missing punctuation here. Either a comma or an exclamation point. One or the other should be here, because this is a run-on sentence.)

Kyoto: We’re gonna die.

(I have to tell you, I haven’t even started reading yet, and I have a comment. Could be a good or bad thing, right? This time it’s good. Yay, Shawn. I noticed things like, the presence of a header, that within that header you adjusted the kerning of your name and the title, and used different variations of grey for different elements. There’s a title page! Everything is clearly labeled, and each page is numbered with your name. These are things that won’t show up when we post this on the site, but I wanted to commend you for taking the time to consider the presentation of your work. Since this is a short, one might imagine that you intend to submit it to anthologies, etc. In a stack of scripts this one will stand out in a good way, and that can’t hurt you. So, a word of advice to other writers, take the time to present your work in a way that says it has value, especially if it is the product that editors will see. If you are just emailing it to your buddy who will be drawing it up for you, messing around with typefaces and kerning might be a waste of time and say nothing but, ‘I have writer’s block.‘ Here though, it makes sense. Kudos, Shawn.

However, you’re neglecting facial expressions. As a wise old editor once told me: characters must act in every panel. Overall, you are writing very minimal descriptions, and I am not sure there is enough information, you should consider expanding upon what you have now. I do like the cold open. It works well.)

P1 is on the books!

Okay, like I said before, and like Sam intimated, there isn’t enough information in the first two panels. White voids aren’t fun. Now if it’s supposed to be that way, let your artist know, and they won’t ask. If it isn’t supposed to be that way, put in the location information and they’ll fill in the rest. Otherwise, they’re going to ask, and if they ask questions that the script should have answered, then you’ve failed to do your basic duty.

It gets better in the last couple of panels, though. Hopefully, that carries through the rest of the script.

Moving panels. Here’s a general rule of thumb: if you write the word “and” in a panel description, you’ve probably written a moving panel. Bunny grabs her hand and is dragging her away… That’s two actions, and two actions cannot be drawn in a static image. Something to keep in mind.

Punctuation. While I’m happy there’s ending punctuation, I’m not happy about the run-on sentence.

Finally, we’re on P1 of a new story with new characters. Readers need a name. At least one. Both would be best, but both may not be able to be said organically. However, one could be slipped in in an organic way. There are opportunities. Take advantage of them.

Comic Page #2

(5 Panels)

Panel 1: Day. A slight aerial view above Kyoto/Bunny’s head and shoulders. Directly below the two is forest land with a small opening. We see a vast land of mountains and forest. Small fantasy villages and cities can be seen here and there. In the right corner the world is surrounded by an evil darkness, twisted trees and swamps. A gothic castle rests atop a jagged mountain. In the top left of the panel a desert wasteland can be seen with a few unrecognizable stone monuments. Most of the map is covered with different heights of clouds. A good overview of this new world left vague because it hasn’t been completely created by us yet.(What does this mean?) (It means it’s crap. In order to see all of this, we’re going to have to be miles above the ground. The previous page doesn’t seem like miles above the ground. It seems like a few hundred feet. Enough to kill you, sure, but not enough to fall for minutes at a time and see the sights you’re trying to have here.)

Bunny: Well, it was nice knowing you(comma) Kyoto. (A name! And it’s organic! Which means the other name could have been slipped in on P1.)

Panel 2: Day. A slight worm’s view of our two heroines in the blue sky. The two come crashing through a few clouds. Bunny closes her eyes, puts her hands together, folds her legs as if she is on her knees and starts to pray. (No description of what’s going on with Kyoto?) (Moving panel.)

Bunny: I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die. I don’t want to die.

Panel 3: Day. The two land on a thick fluffy cloud, chunks of cloud fly into the air. Bunny with eyes closed, remains praying.(And Kyoto?) (Land how? What are their positions? Do they have any reaction?)

SFX from cloud: POOF!

Bunny: Oh my god, we hit the ground. Are we dead yet? (This could have been funny if they had some kind of physical reaction.)

Kyoto *relieved*: Whew.

Panel 4: Day. A close-up of the two heroines riding the cloud down.(Down to where?) Bunny still has her eyes closed and is still praying. (There’s imagination, which is great, and then there’s crap. This is crap. Not Line of Demarcation, but crap nonetheless. The entire thing isn’t crap, just this part. They’re riding a cloud. That’s fine. I can get with that. They’re riding it down, though. Down to where, I don’t know. Are they steering? No clue. Their reaction to this phenomenon? Blase, because it happens all the time. Me? I’m rolling my eyes.)

Bunny *ignoring*: So(comma) this is what it feels like to be dead. (Ignoring? How is the letterer supposed to show that visually? Someone. Anyone.)

Kyoto: Bunny, you can open your eyes now.

Panel 5: Day. A slight worm view slant of the two looking over the edge of the cloud.

Bunny *lying*: Of course(Suggest separating this phrase with punctuation, what you should use depends on your intent.) we landed on this(‘this’ feels weird here, ‘a’?) cloud. I already knew that.(Is she lying? Or being sarcastic? Is she making a joke? I can’t tell what the intention of this line is, you could have cleared that up in your panel description. There are a number of ways an artist could draw this that would fit with what you have written and they all set a very different tone.) (How is the letterer supposed to depict “lying” visually? It feels like you’re throwing jabs at my sanity, Shawn.)

Kyoto: Where are we?

(My suspicion is now confirmed, you are not writing enough in your panel descriptions. No nonsense, essentials only writing it commendable, but here, you’re not covering the essentials. When a character is on panel you have to tell us what they are doing. The notes intermingled with dialogue are helpful clues about the expressions of the characters, but they are not totally clear. You need to give us more information.)

P2 is on the books, and we’re stuck with some of the same things, but some different things, too.

The same? Moving panels, not giving the artist enough information.

Different? Letterer notes that they can’t possibly depict visually.

Basically, I now know two things.

The first thing I know is that you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.

The second thing I know is that you can be taught, seeing as how you learned format.

The third thing I know is that you need to study punctuation more.

The fourth thing I know is that I went two over the two things I said I know.

See how I did that?

Comic Page #3

(6 Panels)

Panel 1: Day. Slight worm view of the two girls looking over the cloud, facing the audience. The cloud gently falls like a feather down to the earth. We see a thin skinny phoenix-like bird flying in the distance. We can finally see the top of the trees underneath the cloud. (No. This is impossible. This cannot be drawn. Ryan Kroboth, can you explain why?)

Bunny: Well we’re definitely not in Kansas anymore, Kyoto.

Panel 2: Day. The cloud drifts down past the trees. Bunny stands up. (Moving panel.)

Bunny: That’s far enough, Mr. Cloud. Thanks for the ride. (See that? That comma? That shows me you know how to use one. Why wasn’t it used correctly before?)

Panel 3: Day. Over the shoulder shot of Kyoto yelling down to Bunny from the cloud.(This makes it sound like Bunny is already off the cloud.)

Kyoto: Wait for me!

Panel 4: Day. Bunny hops from the cloud onto a branch. Bunny hops onto another branch. Bunny hops down to the grassy opening in the woods.(And this makes it seem like she is back on the cloud. See the problem? Also, this is all kinds of a moving panel.)(Schuyler: fix this. I have faith.)

Bunny *joking*: Slow Poke! (I just did a heavy sigh. And it wasn’t only because of the capital p.)

Panel 5: Day. The cloud reaches close to the ground, Kyoto steps off. Bunny is closest to the audience/reader looking around. Weird foreign plants and flowers surround the trees. (Moving panel.)

NO COPY

Panel 6: Day. Kyoto catches up. They stop to investigate the wildlife.(This may also be a moving panel?) (There’s no “may” about it.)

Kyoto: I’ve never seen flowers like this before.

Bunny: This place,(suggest ellipsis) it’s oddly familiar to me.

(Panels 2-4 are so confusing as you have written them. This page really needs to be revisited. She’s on the cloud, off the cloud, performing three distinct actions in one panel… You have to clear this up.)

P3, and really, there’s no indication given of where we are, and more importantly, why we’re reading this.

I’m not bored, but I’m not enjoying myself, either.

Really, it’s more of the same: moving panels, panels that can’t be drawn, and a distinct lack of one of the characters being named in a place where the reader can see it.

We have a minor mystery at the end of this page, but is it really enough to drag the reader to another page? I don’t think so, considering one of the pages is padding. (That would be P2.)

Something stung me on my arm. I think it was a mosquito or something because I want to scratch it. I’m not scratching it, but I want to. This is apropos of nothing, kinda like this piece.

Comic Page #4

(7 Panels)

Panel 1: Day. Bunny plucks an extremely pollinated flower.

Kyoto *serious*: I don’t understand. When I looked into the portal, I saw a completely different place. (Jab! Right at my sanity. I want to know where you got this penchant from. I want you to tell me who it was, so that I can find them and introduce them to my friend Jack’s hammer. Right in the eye. That would be fair.)

Bunny *joking*: Maybe you’re just crazy. (Jab!)

Panel 2: Day. Bunny presents the flower to Kyoto for a closer look.

Bunny *friendly*: For you(comma) my lady. (Jab!)

Panel 3: Day. A point of view of a concealed creature watching them above in the trees. (If this is the point of view of something else, it may not come across that way at first, because it could just be a camera angle. Just something to keep in the back of your head.)

NO COPY

Panel 4: Day. Bunny’s nose crinkles, she is about to sneeze from the flower. Kyoto is aware of this and steps back, waving her hands. (Moving panel.)

Kyoto: Oh no no no no.

Bunny: Ahhchew! (Felix, what’s wrong with this?)

Panel 5: Day. Kyoto’s face is covered in pollen, she doesn’t look happy. She is facing the audience reader in a wide-screen close-up. (This is just a bad panel all the way around.)

NO COPY

Panel 6: Day. Bunny gives her the “I’m sorry smile.” She is facing the audience reader in a wide-screen close-up.

Bunny *awkward laugh*: Eh heh heh. (Jab!)

Panel 7: Day. A wide-screen shot of a fairy zipping around and coming out of the woods towards the two girls. Think like Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time fairy. (Are the girls on panel? Is anyone emoting?)

Fairy: It’s you! You! You!

(We have facial expressions on this page, yay. Also the pacing is consistent, the story is starting to develop a ‘feel.’ That’s good.)

P4.

I’m going to tell everyone a not-so-secret: I don’t read manga. I have no interest in it at all. Just isn’t my thing. I won’t edit it privately either, because I feel it wouldn’t be fair to the creator. No, don’t try to recommend anything to me. I get enough of the hybrid manga thanks to Joe Mad and his clones. I should be doing research on eugenics. (No, seriously.) But I’ve only got a couple of pages to go on this.

Why do I say manga? Because one of the characters seems to be a rabbit, and the other one’s name is Kyoto, and they rode a cloud, and this piece is going as fast as a snail traveling uphill on frozen tundra during the last ice age while dragging a woolly mammoth. Exactly. Not my thing.

This page? More moving panels. More boredom. Some world building, but no story development.

I don’t know why we’re here. And when we seem to get close, we turn the page to more padding.

Get on with it already.

Comic Page #5

(5 Panels)

Panel 1: Day. The fairy zips around the girls and talks.(How does this play in a still image?) (This is one of the few panels I can get behind. The zipping around can be shown with motion lines.)

Bunny *excited*: It’s a fairy! (Jab!)

Fairy: It’s you! Come! Come!

Panel 2: Day. A point of view of a concealed creature watching them above in the trees. (Again?)

NO COPY

Panel 3: Day. The fairy flies back into the woods. Kyoto is casual while Bunny is ecstatic.

Kyoto: Apparently, it wants us to follow it.

Bunny *still excited*: It’s sooo cute! (Body blow!)

Panel 4: Day. The girls follow the fairy. In the corner of the panel we can see a shadowy hooded creature leave the scene from the tree tops. (But this is a moving panel.)

Bunny *excited*: Come back fairy! (Body blow! And what happened to the comma?)

Kyoto*under her breath*: *Sigh* What are we getting ourselves into… (This is a good note for the letterer. Basically, it will be a regular sized balloon with small letters inside.)

Panel 5: Day. The girls run, following the bouncing flying fairy into the woods.

Fairy: Follow! Follow!

(I am beginning to think this may have been scripted for animation. You’re not describing still images.)

One more page, and then we can stop!

No, I’ve got nothing for this page. I feel like a man who has crawled through the desert and is dying of thirst. There’s an oasis right over the ridge. I just have to make it to the ridge, then I can tumble down it…

Comic Page #6

(3 Panels 1 Half Page)

Panel 1: A row of woodland fantasy cute creatures wearing giant acorn helmets, blow a welcoming horn. Whatever sound would be best for horns, or no copy. (Where are we? What do we see in the background? Still in a white void. Oh, and that last line is lazy. Just letting you know.)

NO COPY

Panel 2: The girls arrive to another clearing in the woods, slightly facing the audience. They look confused and stunned. We cannot see what they see.

Kyoto: Whaaaaat?

Bunny: Huh?

Panel 3 Half Page: We see over the shoulder views of the two girls. In the background is a happy welcoming party of hundreds of anthropomorphic forest animals and cute pokemon looking creatures. They are equipped with tribal-esque shields, acorn helmets and wooden spears. A fort is made out of sharpened wood. All of the creatures are on one knee, bowing, with their right arms across their chests. The focal point is a giant statute made out of tree branches and vines of the Blade Bunny. All of the creatures simultaneously say-

Creatures: The Great Creator Has Arrived!

Fairy: It’s you! You! You! (Where is the fairy?)

END OF SAMPLE SCRIPT

(It’s not a bad script, it’s a not a bad story, either. From what you have written here it seems that your storytelling is mostly effective, in regard to pairing visuals with dialogue, but it’s difficult know for sure because the visuals are so vaguely described. Again the pacing seems right. Buoyant and subtle, it’s distinct. The characters come through fairly well and the lines of dialogue do their job. I think the most important revision to be made is fleshing out your descriptions, by far.)

We’re done! Let’s run this puppy down!

Format: Flawless Victory! Honestly, I’m pretty happy about that. After the dreariness of the past little bit, I’m taking anything that makes me smile.

Panel Descriptions: Light. Or thin. Take your pick. Either way you put it, there isn’t enough information in the panel descriptions. Also, a good portion of these are moving panels. Comics is a static medium. Understand that, and understand the trick on how to write static images. Go read all of the Bolts & Nuts. You’ll learn a lot, not just in how to write comics, but how to create them and bring them to market.

Also, putting “Day” in every panel description isn’t necessary. If you do a decent establishing shot to begin with, you won’t have to do it for every panel. You’ll only have to do it when you change locations. It gets annoying, even though the panel descriptions are light.

Basically, everything needs to be worked on: putting in actions, facial expressions, still images, and not losing your characters by not describing them when they should be able to be seen.

Pacing: I’ve seen molecules near absolute zero that moved faster than this. P1 has a little merit, but P2 doesn’t at all. P3 has some merit, but then you’re just stretching things out on P4. P5 feels thin, too. There’s a reason for all of this, and we come to it next.

Dialogue: There isn’t enough of it. Five pages to get to a point is at least two pages too long. The first bits of dialogue revealed character—the unnamed character is a liar and untrustworthy because of it, and the (I’m guessing) human character is stupid for being a follower.

The unnamed character… I don’t know how that happened. Well, I do, but I don’t understand it. How you can name one character but not the other is beyond me. I really don’t understand it.

The letterer notes, aka the jabs at my sanity. I don’t know where you got that particular trait from, but you need to give it back. This is a visual, silent medium. Being both visual and silent means certain things cannot be done, and what you tried to do there just cannot be done visually. It’s just terrible. I feel like I’ve been through ten rounds with Clubber Lang.

Content: There’s no Line of Demarcation. I almost feel like there should be one, but that’s my own prejudice, and not the fault of the writer. I strongly believe this is manga, and it isn’t in my wheelhouse. I’m not the target audience.

Editorially, this needs a lot of help. More studying needs to be done for the rewrite. Beef up the panel descriptions and the dialogue. You’re on a very good track. It shouldn’t take too much to bring it home.

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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