Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, our Brave One is Michael Roslan. We also have Steve Colle in blue, we have Ryan Kroboth with his wonderful pencil, and I’m the old man with a hurt back sitting in the corner, yelling at the kids from my rocking chair, stick in hand. We’re all going to see what Michael has in store for us when he goes
Panel 1: Interior of the NEV (or as you described in the email, Naval Exploratory Vessel, which you also stated will be fleshed out between you and the artist you work with.) control room, viewed from the front looking toward the back. Two Navy soldiers sit at the controls. Williams is on the left, Vasquez on the right. Williams has a puzzled look on his face. Vasquez studies the control panel. (What is Williams doing? You don’t describe his actions as he has the puzzled look on his face. Is he looking towards someone? Also, you describe the shot as “viewed from the front looking toward the back”, but where are your soldiers in this image?)
1. Williams: SIR, YOU NEED TO SEE THIS. (Who is he talking to? Vasquez?)(I want everyone to notice what Michael did here. I’ll talk about it in a few.)
Panel 2: Same panel as before, but now Paulsen strolls in behind the soldiers. The soldiers look toward us. (So the soldiers are in/near the foreground and Paulsen is now in the middle ground. Is that correct? And when you say the soldiers are looking toward us, are they looking at us or at the imagined control panel between them and the readers? If they are looking at the control panel, their eyes would probably be aimed down a bit and not directly at the reader, right?)(There’s enough space to “stroll”? I know you want to work this out with your artist, but I’m in a white void. I don’t like white voids.)
2. Vasquez: THERE’S NO WAY THE TRANSMISSION CAME FROM HERE.
I have no problem with the dialogue, which sounds quite natural. However, I do feel that Paulsen should be saying something before Vasquez says his line, something like “WHAT HAVE YOU GOT, WILLIAMS?“
Panel 3: We zoom out a little to reveal that we’re looking through a section of glass at our intrepid crew. (What is the ‘section of glass’? A window looking out to the ocean?) Paulsen squints at us, as if trying to make sense of what he is seeing. Williams looks down checking the data readouts on his control panel. (This answers my question about the location of the control panel, but should I find that out here and not in the previous panel? Also, my understanding is their gaze is meeting ours, but they’re actually looking through us at whatever is in the distance before them. Is that right?)
3. Williams: THIS IS IT. THE SIGNAL IS GETTING STRONGER.
Panel 4: Zoom out even further. We can make out the front of the NEV. (Now an exterior view? If so, say it.) Paulsen has his head turned slightly, speaking over his shoulder to someone off-panel. Vasquez pushes buttons on his control panel. (Is the reader under the assumption that that is what he’s doing, seeing as how the control panel in below the level of the window?)
4. Paulsen: APPROACH AND RUN SCANS.
5. Paulsen: DR. LANG. DR. CALDWELL. (Split this up into two balloons and add question marks to each as if to say ”Dr. Lang? Can you come here, please?”)
Panel 5: Zoom out even further. We should be able to see most of the NEV and that we’re under water. Lang stands to the left of Paulsen. Caldwell is to his right. They are all looking towards us. Everyone is stunned by the vista before them. (How many characters are visible through your window? You have Williams, Vasquez, Paulsen, and now Lang and Caldwell. All they all in the shot? If not, where did Vasquez and Williams move to?)
6. Paulsen: THE HELL IS THIS? (This sounds strange the way it’s written, especially given you have Paulsen saying it when his speech has been calm thus far. I suggest rephrasing it.)
7. Lang: I HAVE NO IDEA. (Comma instead of a period) BUT IT’S… (The ellipsis doesn’t feel right here. I’m thinking a double dash would be more appropriate.)
You’ve got a good hook leading into the page turn. Just work on your clarity issues with regards to panel descriptions.
We’ve got P1 on the books.
Steve may think this is a good hook, but I’m bored. It’s even worse because I’m in a white void. I hate being in a white void. I can’t “see” anything. All I can do is hope that things become clearer.
They don’t. Instead, they become more confused.
First, going back to the NEV. In the email, you describe it as a mini-submarine. I don’t know about you, but to me, “mini” means “a smaller version of.” Is there enough room for someone to “stroll” in a mini-sub? I don’t know. My personal vocabulary and vision tells me no.
Next, things aren’t described well. Steve went over this, so I won’t kick a dying horse.
Finally, I have some issues with the pacing of this page. There isn’t enough happening here to warrant my interest. I don’t care what “the signal” is or where it’s coming from because I don’t have enough story yet.
The dialogue. As everyone can see, Michael is using all caps for his characters. I can live with this. I don’t have any problem with it at all. Some writers feel they can get a better idea as to how much space their dialogue is going to take up in a balloon. Whatever gets you through the day. Just know that most word processing programs aren’t going to do a spell check on words that are in all caps. The reason for this is because all caps are usually acronyms or initials. In order to get the program to do a spell check on it, you have to turn the feature on.
Let’s see what P2 does. Hopefully, it brings something worthwhile.
TWO / THREE
Panel 6: (Panel 6?) TWO PAGE SPLASH. This is our chance to make the reader’s jaw drop! Let’s set the tone and atmosphere of our story right here. (Misnumbering. I don’t mind that overmuch. It does show a lack of concentration, though.)
We pull way, way back. The lone NEV explores the depths of the ocean (This is vague and cannot adequately be drawn. Thus, it is useless information as you try to draw out the “suspense” of the huge narwhal. Get to it already.). Its headlights push back against the overwhelming darkness of the deep sea (This isn’t prose. This is comics.). The NEV is tiny in the vast emptiness of the ocean (The first useful piece of drawable information.). The ocean floor below is a strange and barren moonscape seascape. (Moonscape, seascape… It’s all the same, right? It’s P2, and really, I just want to EScape…) Except a weird and alien underwater jungle has grown up around a derelict submarine partially buried in the sea floor. The vegetation is laced with an eerie bioluminescence. (See submarine ref. photos.) (Here’s something I want you to consider: You describe an “overwhelming darkness of the deep sea”, but then describe a bioluminescence to the plants. Wouldn’t this create a light source that cancels out your description of overwhelming darkness?)(Shhh! It’s a moonscape on the earth, under the water. Fie on you and your logic!)
8 (1). Lang Caption: … AMAZING. (Even with the proposed double dash in the connecting text from Page One, I’d still keep the ellipsis here. It’s a matter of sound to the ear, where I hear a cut off speech in the previous text and a trailing in of dialogue here. This is also captioned character dialogue and as such, should have quotation marks around it.)
9 (2). Caption: THE PACIFIC OCEAN.
10 (3). Caption: 1,200 MILES OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN.
I’m concerned that you have seemingly continued the numbering sequence of your panels and lettered text into the double-page spread. We’ll see if that’s actually what you’ve done as I continue with my edits.
Does this warrant a double-page splash (which I suggest go one step further into a full bleed)? That’s debatable, as I think you could have done a successful representation with just one page, especially by playing around with camera angle. For example, placing the camera behind the NEV would allow the setting to be showcased in the expanse of the background with the NEV being tiny in the center of the image. This also seems like very little text for a two-page spread. In my mind, and unless your lettering is substantially larger than normal, this is going to get lost unless placed in keys spots over your image, and even then, the image will be overwhelming and potentially lose your text.
We have a double-page spread, which I’m going to call padding right here, right now.
The reason why I say that? Nothing said or intimated on P1 warrants it, and unless the artist is extremely strong—say, Barry Windsor-Smith at the height of his powers—then this is totally useless as a DPS. I don’t think it warrants even a page by itself. Maybe a splash, sure, but I’d also have an inset in there. And more dialogue. It needs more dialogue to have greater impact, especially since the first page doesn’t have a lot of dialogue to begin with.
Readers may come for the art, but they stay for the story. How much story have they gotten so far? Just read the dialogue by itself, divested of the context of pictures that aren’t telling a story (because they aren’t—not one that has great impact on the dialogue, at least) and you’ll see just how much story has been imparted.
What’s happened in this DPS doesn’t move me. It doesn’t do anything for me. It doesn’t have anything dramatic going on, it doesn’t move the story forward, it isn’t a big reveal. It’s a waste of space.
Page and panel numbering…
Unless something happens where you totally screw up, Michael, you’ll be getting a Flawless Victory for format on a technicality. Technically, your format is correct. What you’re doing with your format isn’t.
There are extremely few times when you’re going to need to know the exact number of panels in a project. My mentor, Lee Nordling, wrote a book (that I believe won an award) where he had to continuously number the panels in the book for the artist. This was a children’s book, not a comic, and the number of panels was necessary to keep certain things straight.
What are you keeping straight here that you need to continue the panel numbering from the previous page?
How did I get from misnumbering to continued numbering? Because you also continued to number the dialogue.
Convention has us writing the page number and then numbering the panels on the page, and maybe numbering the balloons in a panel. Another convention has us writing a continuous numbering of the balloons on a page, but then we start over when we go to the next page. Both of those conventions are for the benefit of the letterer. What benefit does anything you’re doing with your format have for anyone you’re working with? I’m honestly curious. And if it’s something your artist asked for, I’d be curious as to why. (It’s telling that I’m more curious as to the whys and wherefores of your formatting than I am of your story, isn’t it?)
Panel 7 (1): (PANEL 7?!? Houston, we have a problem.) Back inside the NEV. Feel free to try out some different angles to keep this talking head bit visually fresh. Williams is reading the scan data at his station.
11. (1.) Williams: IT’S A GATO CLASS. ACTUALLY LOOKS TO BE IN DECENT SHAPE. (Here’s where I have one big problem: Your previous dialogue of “BUT IT’S AMAZING” gives me the idea that the bioluminescence is what was amazing and the focal point of the reaction. However, here you are isolating the submarine, meaning that this should have been what was talked about in previous panels for clarity purposes. Saying something like “WHAT THE HELL? IS THAT A SUBMARINE??” would have helped focus the readers attention on what you really wanted them to notice.)
It’s official. This is a no-no in a big way. Each new page needs to start at Panel 1 with text to be lettered likewise presented. I won’t be correcting the following numbering as I started doing because it ultimately distracted from the editing notes with another hint of blue per line. (I disagree with the “needs” part. There could be reasons. They just more than likely wouldn’t be good ones. A good reason would call for a different kind of formatting. Say this was a digital comic and each panel was a screen. There then wouldn’t be a reason to have page numbers, so your format would be different. You’d just have a continuous count of the panels. So there could be reasons, but like I said, they more than likely wouldn’t be good ones.)
Panel 8: Paulsen looks down at Vasquez with a curious expression. Vasquez nods in the affirmative. (A nod is hard to express in a static medium. If it isn’t fast enough to use speed lines to help indicate the movement, then it can’t be done effectively.)(Which makes this a moving panel and thus, undrawable.)
12. Paulsen: VASQUEZ, SEND OUR COORDINATES WITH VISUALS TO SURFACE COMMAND. HAVE THEM CROSS(-)REFERENCE HISTORICAL RECORDS. (Surface command? I just threw up in my mouth a little.)
13. Paulsen: LET’S SEE WHAT HITS.
14. Vasquez: YES (Missing comma) SIR.
Panel 9: Paulsen has turned to speak with Lang and Caldwell. Caldwell views data streaming on a monitor.
15. Paulsen: WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THIS?
16. Caldwell: HONESTLY? NO CLUE. (Then it’s time to close the book and move on to something more interesting.)
Panel 10: Two shot of Paulsen and Lang. She looks reluctant, almost at a loss for words. (Ryan? This is yours, mein freund. If the “almost” doesn’t come through, I won’t consider it a failure on your part. It would definitely be a failure on the writer’s part for not knowing the medium they’re writing in.)
17. Paulsen: AND YOU (Missing comma) DR. LANG? (Why, Lord and Lady, WHY don’t writers know how to use commas anymore? GO BACK TO GRAMMAR SCHOOL!) (Yes, yes I do feel better now… Why do you ask?)
18. Lang: I… I’VE NEVER SEEN PLANT LIFE LIKE THIS BEFORE. (The use of the ellipsis after the first ‘I’ doesn’t make sense to me. Is she stuttering? If so, it should be a single dash between it and “I’ve”. Another comment pertains to the submarine vs. plant life focus I mentioned before. It’s now obvious that Lang, being the one to make the “BUT IT’S AMAZING” comment, was referring to the plants, but that’s where the mention of the sub in Panel 7 (1) becomes even more confusing.)
Panel 11: A medium shot of the sub entangled in the glowing alien vegetation.
19. Lang Caption: “I MEAN… I DON’T THINK ANYBODY HAS EVER SEEN PLANTS LIKE THIS BEFORE.” (See this caption? Greg, what question should be asked about the format of this dialogue and the panel it’s in?)
Panel 12: Paulsen looks at Lang. He doesn’t share her sense of wonder. (Does this last sentence describe Paulsen’s reaction or expression? Answer: No, it doesn’t, and as such doesn’t serve the needs of the artist. Be more direct in your direction.) Caldwell continues to study the data streaming in. His eyebrows are raised in shock.
20. Paulsen: I MEANT REGARDING THE SUB.
21. Caldwell: HOLY SHIT. IT’S STILL… PRESSURIZED. (You say that Caldwell’s eyebrows are raised in shock, and yet you have his dialogue without an exclamation mark after „HOLY SHIT“ and use ellipsis [again, without an exclamation mark] when saying „IT’S STILL PRESSURIZED“. Make what he says match what he does.)
I think this could have done as a Page Three. It would have helped explain Page Two better as a facing page, in my opinion. (No one cares about your opinion!) (Yes they do! They come here for him as much as for you, you big stupid jerk!) (I’m not a stupid jerk! I’m a tremendous jerk, not a stupid one!) (What’s sad is that I’ve not only taken to talking to myself, I’ve taken to poking a little fun at my cohort because this script isn’t keeping my attention.)
So here you have clarified for the reader the two different foci the two characters are each concentrating their attention on. What would help the reader to concentrate on the sub would be to have it large enough in the image and not have it completely covered by plant life. In this way you are creating primary and secondary (but not incidental) props/set pieces. Put the attention on where you want the reader to go.
The bonus is I’m not disinterested. You seem to have a good story going. Let’s see what the next pages have to tell us.
P4, and I’m going to disagree with Steve when it comes to the story being “good.”
We have some information, but none of it is impactful as yet. Nothing has happened, and because nothing has happened, it’s hard for me to care about anything.
Know what horror movie I love and hate because it takes so long for anything to happen?
Here’s what happens: A old man is in the desert, digging at shit. He finds a relic, but we have no context as to what it is. Some dogs are fighting in the distance. The man goes to the village, and he almost seems to be having a heart attack. The heat is oppressive, so it could also be heat stroke. We finally figure out he’s a priest. Scene switch: Actress single-parent of a young-teen/pre-teen girl leads an idyllic life as she works at her craft and does the parenting thing with her daughter. Scene switch (I think—it’s been a while since I’ve seen the film): A priest is holding Mass, but he doesn’t look happy about it at all. He visits his old Italian mother (who understands English but doesn’t speak much of it), who’s living by herself in an apartment.
That’s the start of the film. It’s about 30 min or so before anything even remotely interesting happens. It’s laying the groundwork for what comes later. Some would call it a slow burn. But you know what? It’s a seminal work. Why? Because even though it has a slow burn and buildup, it’s truly scary with a very nice payoff. And except for the fashion sense for the costumes and hair, it has aged very well. It’s still scary today. Keep the same script, have talented actors (this movie made Linda Blair’s career, which is good for her because she can’t act), and recreate it shot for shot today and it would still be scary.
This isn’t holding my interest. What am I supposed to be interested in? The vegetation or the sub?
Bioluminescent plantlife isn’t anything new. New species of everything are being found and cataloged with regularity, and we expect to find “strange” things in the deep ocean. So that’s not really anything new or strange.
Submarines? A little different. We don’t expect to find them abandoned at the bottom of the ocean, so there’s that. We don’t expect to find them pressurized while abandoned at the bottom of the ocean. But you know what? We also don’t know how long it’s been down there, either. Without any context, it’s hard to be surprised or have a sense of wonder about what’s going on.
This is what I’m talking about when I’m discussing being interesting. We don’t need the reason why it’s there—that will come out later. An interesting tidbit would be how long it’s been there. Another would be why the NEV is there in the first place (what’s its mission?), and if they found what they were looking for. Another tidbit would be what signal was being talked about before, and if it’s actually originating from the sub. All of that could have sparked interest in this piece. You don’t even try to be cryptic. The information just isn’t there.
Let’s see what the next page brings. Where’s my pillow? I should at least get comfortable.
Panel 13: Paulsen leans down over Caldwell’s shoulder to see his monitor. He has a look of doubt on his face. (Know what I want to see? The monitor. It’s been talked about, but it hasn’t been shown. You know why I say it hasn’t been shown? Because we can see faces, and I doubt we can see both faces and the monitor at the same time.)
22. Paulsen: THAT’S NOT POSSIBLE.
23. Vasquez (OFF): LT. PAULSEN…
Panel 14: Vasquez has data on the sub pulled up on a monitor. Paulsen is quickly scanning for what he thinks might be relevant. (Is this a front shot, where we can see Paulsen’s eyes focused on what he sees?) (See what I mean? Two things described, one thing can actually be drawn. Where’s the camera?)
24. Vasquez: THE REPORT IS BACK FROM SURFACE COMMAND. (Though I can appreciate the pause created in the last panel with „LT. PAULSEN…“, I think this would have been better served in the previous panel to allow Paulsen’s upcoming reading of the data to be focused on.) (Honestly, I think all the imagination in the world was used up, which is why the command on the surface is called Surface Command. Really, I just want the boring to stop. I’m quite sure my girlfriend would like my help in finishing up the floor. At least I won’t be bored in doing that.)
25. Paulsen: THE USS SHORTFIN IS OUR MOST LIKELY MATCH. CREW OF EIGHTY-FOUR. SANK THREE JAPANESE SHIPS. (Comma instead of a period) TWO CARRIERS AND A DESTROYER. (It might be a good idea to include the fact that this was during WWII in this speech.)(Because, you know, context of time…)
There’s no apparent reason for the italicization of ‘Shortfin’. Can you give me a reason? (Yes. It’s a convention of titling.)
26. Paulsen: LAST KNOWN LOCATION WAS WITHIN 200 KILOMETERS OF HERE.
Panel 15: A shot of Paulsen standing behind Williams and Vasquez, but from behind. So we see their backs, the control panels, and out the glass to the sub on the ocean floor.
27. Williams: THE PRESSURE READINGS ARE RIGHT. (I suggest using the term ‘correct’ instead of ‘right’.) NO BREACH DETECTED. AND THE SHORTFIN’S (Same thing with the italics here.) TEMPERATURE IS WELL ABOVE AMBIENT LEVELS.
28. Vasquez: IT APPEARS TO BE EMBEDDED INTO THE OCEAN FLOOR. (Comma instead of period) AS IF IT CRASHED RATHER THAN SANK…
Panel 16: Close shot of Lang and Paulsen standing side by side. Paulsen continues to look on in disbelief. Lang is bemused.
29. Paulsen: SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THIS THING IS DRY INSIDE?
30. Lang: WHAT THE… (Double dash instead of ellipsis)
Where was Lang in previous panels on this page? She disappeared and is back just in time for the page turn…
P5, and we finally are starting to get some information. Some, not all. What’s left out? The interesting bits.
It’s like you’re purposely cutting out anything that could be of any use to the reader so that they turn away and look for something else to spend their money and time on.
Congratulations! You’ve succeeded. There’s no reason to set the Line of Demarcation. This isn’t crap. It’s just boring. (And boring is death, just so you know.) Readers will put the book back on the shelf and pick up something more worthwhile. Something like Tarot, Witch of the Black Rose. Why? Because Jim Balent.
Readers are apt to put the book down by P3. What’s your P3? A useless thing of padding.
And I’ll say this: for a mini-sub, there are a lot of people on it, with lots of space to move around. I count five people, and space to “stroll.” I want to know what’s “mini” about the submarine they’re on.
Actually, I just want to get to the end of this. Aside from doing the floor, we also want to look at cars, and there is some other shopping I want to do.
… for which she is the main character.
This is a flashback section. It should be drawn / colored in a way that distinguishes it from the rest of our story. (I like this note.)
Panel 17: Lang is in a science lab. She is wearing a traditional white lab coat. She is alone. All the lights are out except at her workstation. She was looking into a microscope when her phone vibrated and startled her. The phone is beside her on the workstation. (This tells me absolutely nothing about a real setting or her current actions.)
31. Lang: … (Double dash instead of ellipsis) HELL? (Because people always cut out “what the” when they’re startled.)
32. SFX bzzz bzzz
Panel 18: Close up on the phone. The screen shows that ❤️JAMES❤️ is calling. #555-383-6319. The profile pic for the contact is a selfie of James and Lang close together, smiling.
NO COPY (Why ‘No copy’? Should she be making some sort of annoyed sound or say something that shows she is annoyed? Make use of this opportunity to express her frame of mind.)
Panel 19: She sits with her elbows on the desk. One hand holds the phone to her ear. (When did she pick it up?) (Gutter Time. I can live with that.) She rests her forehead in the other hand. The classic “ugh” pose. (I think the ‘classic ugh pose’ would have a bit of facial expression to help establish mode. Rolling of the eyes might also help.)
33. Lang: Hey. Yeah, yeah (Missing comma) I know. (There are a few different ways of writing this, such as “Hey” in one balloon, then “Yeah yeah, I know” or more pauses and impatience with “Hey”, then “Yeah” in another balloon, and then “Yeah… I know” in a third. Each one shows a different reaction based on pacing of the speech. What are you trying to go for? Another point is, due to the use of ‘But’ as the beginning of your next line of dialogue, you could end ‘I know’ with an ellipsis which continues at the start of the next line.)
34. Lang: (Ellipsis to continue the line of dialogue?) But I’m right in the middle of something.
35. Lang: I’ll be home in an hour. (Separate balloon to show breaks in pacing of her reactions as she speaks.) Yeah.
Panel 20: Another angle on Lang. We can see a clock on the wall behind her. It shows the time is 10:45.
36. Lang: Yeah (Missing comma) me too. (Separate balloon) Bye.
Why did none of this dialogue appear in CAPS like the rest of your spoken text throughout your script? (Good question, but still not enough to warrant losing the Flawless Victory.)
Panel 21: She puts the phone back down on the table. (Can we see any expression? Is it just her hand? Elaborate.)
NO COPY (Why ‘No copy’? This is a waste if there’s no facial expression or body language to tell the story.)
Panel 22: She leans in to look into the microscope.
NO COPY (Again, this doesn’t tell us anything or advance the story.)
This page did absolutely nothing for the story, in my opinion.
I got nothing.
It’s a race to the finish!
This is a flashback section. It should be drawn / colored in a way that distinguishes it from the rest of our story.
Panel 23: Same exact shot as the previous page / 4TH panel, but the clock on the wall now reads 12:30. (Now that’s just damned terrible. And I say “damned” because I’m trying to be generally child-friendly. What I’m thinking in my head, though, is “fucking.” Just replace it as you would. Anyway, why is it damned terrible? Because it isn’t the 4th panel on the previous page. It’s panel 20. It would have been the 4th panel if you had numbered it more conventionally. Or, if you had bothered to do your job and go back and actually look to see what panel number it was, you could have just put in the panel number like I did. Instead, you opted to make more work for the artist. Congratulations. I hope you pay well, because they probably won’t be back for the second issue. They’ll have to wash their hair or go to the dentist or something.)
Panel 24: Her phone vibrates again. She looks pissed. (Action and reaction in the same panel. Not good. The buzzing should have at least been in the previous panel.)
37. Lang: GODDAMNIT.
38. SFX: bzzz bzzz
Panel 25: She has the phone in her hand. We can see it’s James again. She taps the button to silence the call. (Here is where your pacing is off. I can let the Gutter Time of her picking up the phone slide. It doesn’t really need to be seen. But she (and we) already know it’s James. Why couldn’t we have had two panels: one showing James calling again, and the second with her silencing the call? No need to pick anything up, no need to move the camera, two small panels. Pacing.)
Panel 26: She’s back looking into the microscope.
I’m going to stop here. Seven pages is further than I’ve gone in any script since I’ve been back editing for TPG, and this honestly seems like the perfect place to stop, with two pages of nothing.
To your credit, Michael, your dialogue sounds natural.
With regards to your pacing, it feels like you’re trying to fill your page quota (22 page story) by filling it with needless material, such as these last two pages of Lang and her refusal to answer her phone. I’m sure, in the long run, it serves a purpose, but two pages of it was way too much. This and the double-page spread for Pages Two and Three made this a matter of dragging out a potentially interesting story to fill a page count which would end on a hopeful hook (which I did read ahead to see).
I’ve already mentioned the continuous numbering of panels and lettering text, but want to focus on your need to read up more on formatting your script. There are samples online which you can reference and close to a dozen different reference books on the topic of writing comic scripts that will guide you and lead you away from this type of mistake.
What say you, Mr. Forbes?
(Bolts & Nuts is what I say…)
Oh! Steve has stopped, I have things to do, let’s run away by running this down!
Format: Flawless Victory. Again, it’s a technicality. You didn’t put the dialogue before the panel descriptions or anything egregious, so I’m willing to let it slide. But the numbering has got to change, depending on the reason why you did it this way. And yes, I want to know that reason.
Panel Descriptions: These need work. They’re light. Half the time I’m in a white void, and the other half we’re looking at things and I’m wondering where the camera is. It isn’t good.
A couple of instances where moving panels can be argued, but I’m not in the mood. I have stuff to do. Like eat. Eating is good.
Pacing: The pacing is terrible. It’s the most terrible thing with this piece.
From large to small, pacing is how many scenes are in a book, how many pages are in a scene, how many panels are on a page, and how many words are in a panel/page/scene.
Pacing also has to do with what happens in each panel/page/scene.
Most of the time, I don’t have to explicitly state that pacing has to do with what happens. That is (I hope) generally understood. I have to state it here, though, because you took out the interest whenever you could.
The characters don’t have any actions. They don’t do anything because there’s nothing to do. They also don’t learn much, because the interesting things have been redacted (presumably by Surface Command—sorry. I couldn’t help myself.).
If you had given us things of interest to read, then the pacing would have been better. Instead, you killed it by not being interesting. No one reads to be bored. (Well, some people read boring things in order to sleep, but that shouldn’t be why comics are read.)
You could easily pick up the pace just by being interesting. It isn’t that hard to do.
Dialogue: I don’t dislike it. It needs some work. Don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying I like it, and I’m not saying I don’t. I’ve read much, much better, and I’ve also read extremely worse. It needs work. This is generally where an editor would be of help to you. If someone could get you to stop stripping out the interesting parts, that would be a win.
Content: Boring. You could call this The Somnambulist, and it would be truth in advertising. I don’t want to be bored as a reader. I want to be entertained. This doesn’t do the job.
Editorially, there needs to be a conversation as to what you want to do before more work gets done on this. Renumbering and beefing up the panel descriptions and dialogue may be easier than a total rewrite—but that would heavily depend on the plot and the pacing. The conversation between you and the editor should give direction as to what happens next, and then you both work together towards that goal.
And that’s it for this week! Check the calendar to see who’s next!
Like what you see? Steve and I are available for your editing needs. Steve can be reached here. You can email me directly from my info below.