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TPG Week 165: The Story Must Make Sense

| February 21, 2014


Welcome back to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Tommy Sigalov. Tommy, it seems, has some lessons to learn. We’ve got Samantha LeBas looking svelte in purple, I’m doling out haymakers in red, and we’ll see just what happens when Tommy gets


Just a quick note: This was sent over in a 9 pitch. Like what’s been happening recently, I upped it to 12. You should all feel sorry for Sam.




Small panel of ISHIKAWAs hand turning a Dictaphone on.(Oh good, 9 point font, a script for ants.) (Take a look at the panel numbering. To suss it out really quickly, it takes out the guesswork as to what page this panel belongs on. It goes page number.panel number. This is neither right nor wrong. It’s easy enough to understand what’s going on, and it saves some keystrokes. Tommy just has to make sure he knows where he’s at at all times. This is fine as long as he’s consistent.)




The time is 1300 hours, April 5th, 2014. This interview is being recorded at Brighton Police Station and may be given(used?) as evidence if the case is brought to trial.


Establishing shot of a police interrogation room. The room is made up of four walls (one with a heavy wooden door and another wall which has a two-way mirror on it). In the middle of the room is a large table, with ISHIKAWA and PHILIPS on one side, and SYRUS sitting on a third chair opposite. He hangs his head in shame, its obvious hes about to be interrogated. ISHIKAWA is holding a large folder in her hand with a name tag that reads RAMSEY, SYRUS. She introduces herself to SYRUS. PHILIPS extends his arm to appear friendly, andhas a steaming polystyrene cup of coffee nearby.(Where is the dictaphone? Do we see the characters in profile, or is Ramsey facing away from us? Of course the room is made up of four walls, but can we see all four of them? You need to better orient this panel.) (Basically, where’s the camera?)


My name is Detective Karin Ishikawa, and this is my colleague PC Toby Philips– (Be aware that if you intend this for an American audience, the term PC may not be familiar.)


I already know him. Weve met before.(This doesn’t seem like the dialogue of a person with their head down.)


Dont worry, were not here to antagonise you. Our role today is just to interview you in relation to offences youve been arrested for.(I do not know about this line, seems overly defensive.)


SYRUS looks up at the two with guilt in his eyes.


Full name, please.


Syrus Ramsey.(No middle name?)


From SYRUSs perspective: PHILIPS makes a worried look, and opens up his arms. Next to him, ISHIKAWA has her arms folded, looking quite stern. (This is a moving panel. I have no idea how someone makes a worried look, but making that look and then performing another action is two separate actions and thus, a moving panel.)


As a caution, from this point on anything you say may be given in evidence. Anything you dont say now that could later be relied on in court could harm your defence. (Didn’t she say this already? Wasn’t he in the room when she said it?)


Do you require the services of a solicitor?(This is dreadfully disparate from the vernacular I am accustomed to. Be warned I am now using my own research and the fact that I have binge-watched “Luther” recently, as reliable source material.) (Luther is a great show. Binged on it myself on Netflix. Great show. Looking forward to the next season.)


Side on of SYRUS, twiddling his thumbs, with his head down again.


No, thanks.


Any reason why not?(Why would he ask this?)


Actually, Id like to confess…


I plead guilty.

(Hmm okay. Police interrogation, familiar setting, predictable scripting [those things do tend to follow a script, so that’s all right] Where’s the hook? What separates this from standard procedure? Why do I want to know more about these characters? I see you hinting at the idea that this is not the standard interrogation with Syrus’ confession, but I don’t know if it is strong enough to pull people in. The interaction is vague. He’s been arrested for offenses, he’s met the PC, he’s guilty; fair enough. Now, why do we care? This has fine pacing, a functional tone, and it’s well formatted [other than the 9 point font], but it’s missing an emotional draw.)

We got P1 on the books!

I’ll tell you something, I’m already bored. We just started, and I’m bored.

Police procedurals are all the same in some respects. People cannot get enough of them, though. This is why we have so many copies of the same basic thing, with only a slight variation: CSI, CSI NY, CSI Miami, NCIS, NCIS Las Vegas, another NCIS spinoff that’s coming, Law & Order, Law & Order SVU, Law & Order Criminal Intent… And that’s just relatively recently. So we’ve seen it all before, at least in the States.

I don’t know much about television in the UK. Luther is a great show, and is also something of a police procedural. Are there more? There should be. But I don’t watch a lot of BBC (or that much live television in general, really), so I don’t know. Here’s what I do know.

I’m bored, because I’ve seen this before.

There is nothing on this page to really pull me into the story and get me to turn the page. There isn’t a single image here that pulls me in. It’s boring. It’s staid. It’s been done, and been done better by others.

What would be better is dialogue that mattered. None of this is gripping. None of it garners any interest. Not even the “I want to confess/plead guilty.” No one cares. What you tried to do is gin up some interest by saying they want to plead guilty before letting the reader know what they’re pleading guilty about. They do that in television all the time. However, television has things you don’t have. For one, music. There is mood music that heightens audience anticipation. Second, there is time. You get to see the character, get a feel for them, get into their problem somewhat by watching them, and you get told the pace by the director. You’re trying to do something similar here, but you don’t have the time. You have the one page to get readers interested, and this page isn’t doing it.

The only problem I have with the panel descriptions so far is a lack of camera placement, consistent with what you’re describing. You say some things, and then you continue on to others, and they could clash. Panel 1.2 is what I’m talking about. And then the moving panel. You have to watch out for that.

PAGE TWO (I don’t have to say anything about page breaks? Feels like a late birthday present!)



We see the three of them from a high angle. PHILIPS scratches his face in confusion. SYRUS now looks and sits up, somewhat more alive and normal as if a weight has been lifted. ISHIKAWA scribbles something down in her folder.


You plead guilty? Are you sure?(Whoa. This may be a little too “good cop.” Would he really say this?)


I didnt know there were other ways of not denying something.


Syrus, this could have serious implications for you.(Obviously… I am not buying this dialogue.)


SYRUS puts his hands behind his head, showing suddenly how comfortable he is.(POV?)


I know, but I guesseven I cant evade you guys anymore. If Im going away, Id rather go sooner than later.(Not believing it. You haven’t built his character up enough to shock us with this.)


ISHIKAWA starts pouring through the contents of the folder. PHILIPS takes a long sip of his coffee. SYRUS continues in the same position.(POV?) (Okay. Spell-check time. There is a difference between pouring and poring. Spell-check won’t catch it. Neither will grammar check. Something to keep in mind.)


Understood. Is there any reason why you think youve been arrested?(Seriously?)


Murder, arson, theft, fraud.(delete period, add comma, lowercase ‘l’) Lots of vandalism. Is fly tipping there?(I looked it up, y’all, it means littering.)


Do you confess to all of the above?(This needs to read more along the lines of, ‘do you intend to confess to… )


Thats correct.

9 SFX (From folder pages)

Flip Flip


Large panel of PHILIPSfingers pointing to a photograph hes just laid out on the table. The photo is of a bit of banksy-like graffiti stencil on a wall, showing the wicked witch of the west resting/sleeping on her broomstick. The image should exaggerate all the monstrous bits of the witch: Her pale green skin, her large and warty nose etc. In the corner of the image should be Syrustag, a ram skull.(Interesting idea.)


Why dont we start with this one then?




(Each confession for each charge must be taken individually. It’s not just a ‘he says it was totally him,’ kind of situation, we have here. He needs to be told what he is being charged with at some point. He can beg them off, tell that he doesn’t want to hear the laundry list of charges, or something, that’s fine, but your detectives have to follow procedure. Make sure that you are very clear on what that is before you consider this ‘finished.’ Also the dialogue has become unbelievable, why are they treating him with kid gloves here?

I like the idea of the tag as a visual cue that might connect the crimes he’s accused of, I’m interested to see what you do with that.)

Okay, we’ve got P2 down, and really, I just want to walk away.

It’s the dialogue. “Any idea why we stopped you?” “Well, ossifer, I was jaywalking, I littered, and I flipped you off. Also, I killed someone two years ago. I think you stopped me for that…”

Your dialogue is killing you. It isn’t that it sounds forced, it’s just that it’s extremely unbelievable. It almost sounds like they’re talking about walks in the park, daisies, and whether or not they want one or two lumps of sugar. While in the police interrogation room.

I don’t know about the UK, but in ‘Murica, when you’re arrested, you’re told what you’re being arrested for. So asking “why do you think you’re here” is really not the best way to start, because it would be a terrible question to ask.

I’m unimpressed. It’s the second page, and I’m still waiting for the story to start and for something interesting to happen.

The good thing? The dialogue sounds natural (as a conversation), and there are no spelling mistakes. (Pore vs pour I’m willing to overlook a little bit. Peek, peak, pique? That’s one of my pet peeves.) Now, just because the conversation sounds natural doesn’t mean that it’s good. For the setting, it’s totally unbelievable.




Its nighttime near a place like this garage, and IKE has just blasted a hole through the steel doors of a garage block. From the perspective of the inside looking out, we see him peering into the room, holding up some of the melted steel with his shoulders, trying to get a look in without damaging the area even more. The blast hole is still glowing hot and giving off steam from the explosion, as are his hands. He has a look of wonder on his face as though hes just discovered lost treasure. (SPOILERS: IKEs power lets him explode things by touch)(Scene changes are best kept on the evens, or the page turns.)


We received a tip that a few newbie members of the Magna Carta Massive were looking to break into a garage just behind Queens Park. (Who’s “we”?)


A proper heist, you know?(Why do these caps disappear after this?)


Boom, baby.


IKE peers back round to talk to his gang mates, but in the distance he sees them running off.(How many gang members? Where are they in relationship to him? POV?)


I say we grab this lot quicktime and ghost(This line should be in a panel all by itself.)


really? Aw, come on. Sonofa–


Oi! The feck do you think yer doing to my property?(I feel like this dialect may called for dropped ‘g’s)


Establishing shot of the garage complex, IKE has turned around nervously to see KENNY, looking seriously stern. KENNY looks like your typical Irish mafia thug: Ugly; flat, ginger hair; broad shoulders and straight off Big fat gypsy wedding. KENNY starts rolling up his sleeves, revealing his completely tattooed arms. The whole place is lit up by a sole lamp post.(You have to situate you characters in relationship to one another and within their environment. The spatial descriptions here are lacking.)


Yer having a laugh.


Shit, we didnt know it was South McCarthturf. Why dont we cut a deal or suttin? Work together, you know?(This might be more effective if you separated the dialogue into different balloons. Maybe break between each sentence?)


So you picked an estate at random? Rolled a four and won this garage?(A four?)


KENNY has now advanced much closer to IKE, pointing accusingly at him. He still looks pretty furious.


Dya think Im an idiot!


Youve got no clue what yer dealing with.


KENNY grabs IKE by the scruff of his shirt.

12 IKE

Hold up–Ack!


KENNY is face to face with IKE, really close and claustrophobic. KENNY peers down at IKE with a mad teeth-baring grin, breathing the smell of cheap beer and crappy cigarettes into his face. IKE only has enough space to recoil in fear away from him.(Ask yourself, what information matters when rendering a scene visually. You may be focusing on the wrong information [the smell of his breath, what kind of beer he drank] and ignoring more important details [how you want this shot laid out].)


Something doesnt add up, boy…


KENNY and IKE, in the foreground, in the same position but extended so you see their whole bodies. KENNY, being taller, stands hunched over to get down to IKEs level. In the background, and circling the two is the garage door hole made by IKEs explosion but we cant see the interior. If we can see the floor, there should be no debris or anything to signify that the explosion was made by anything (other than IKEs hands).(If it matters that Kenny is taller say that the first time they are on panel together. I am assuming that since Kenny is described in detail a few panels earlier, I assume he is not in the character document, so you need to account for his height relative to Ike’s sooner.) (I don’t think this panel can be drawn. Where’s the camera?)


The doors still on its hinges. Theres no debris on the floor…


If ya knew what was inside, why the feck would some backstreet thugs go and use military-grade explosive(s) on a garage block?!(Does he mean, if you didn’t know what was inside? That seems to make more sense here.)

(This script is beginning to lack intention and context. Neither of those are things that it can be good without.)

P3, and this is where sense stopped being made.

Here’s the scenario: You have the power to explode things by touching them. You are now being accosted by some guy. Are you going to be afraid? Yeah, neither am I.

And, really, even though the scene change is done, this doesn’t seem to go with anything. I understand that this is only the first page of it, but just looking at it, we don’t see anyone who’s been previously introduced, and neither of these characters have been named yet.

However, here’s the real problem: the scene changed, but there’s no story yet. So Syrus is a bad guy. What’s the thing that got him arrested? They were after him for murder, at the very least, but what got him pinched? What’s the main story that’s trying to be told here? We’re on P3, we’ve got a scene change, and that information isn’t yet evident.

There’s no story, and it doesn’t seem like there’s any story coming anytime soon. So why change scenes?

Where’s the subterfuge? Where’s the misdirection? Where’s the mystery of why we’re even here?

The movie The Usual Suspects? That’s a masterclass of storytelling. We’ve got a guy who’s been picked up by the cops, we he’s calm, he’s talking to the cops, and more and more information starts to come out about Kiaser Soze. We’re drawn into the mystery. We want to know what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and we want to know how it all turns out.

This? We’re not even thrust into the middle of the story and forced to catch up. We’re just told that this guy was picked up for multiple things, he wants to confess, and he starts to tell a story.

What does he want to confess? Dunno. How does the story relate to the confession? Dunno. Does he have powers? Dunno. It won’t be clear to the reader that one of these characters has powers, either. Not on this page. Will anyone care? Don’t think so. You’re acting like there’s story here, and there isn’t. Not yet. Is it coming? Dunno.

Why have we changed scenes? It’s premature. Premature changulation. It isn’t good.

The dialogue. More British, which is fine. But unless the unnamed new thug has some sort of training, is he really going to notice there’s no debris? I understand you’re trying to bring attention to it, to spring the fact that the guy has powers, but it’s a clumsy way to go about it.




IKE averts his gaze from KENNY, to mutter something under breath.


You must be blind…like the M.C.M(add period) can get military equipment.(Why blind?)


KENNY uses a spare hand to reach into his back pocket and get his knuckledusters. Theyre slightly wider than usual, and the spiky bit is a black rectangle with a line of sharp metal studs.(This is a close up of his hand? Make sure that is clear.) (This is a moving panel.)


Oh, I see very clear.


KENNY quickly (motion lines?) brings his knuckledusted’ fist up, inches from IKEs face, threatening him. KENNYs face has gone red, seething with anger, almost spitting out saliva through his teeth.(We don’t care if he is almost spitting, we care if he is actually spitting, because that is what can be drawn. Why not? I say, let the man spit.)


I see a feckinliar opposite me.


So(comma) Ill give you a choice. Enlighten me on where I can get this newfangled bomb.(suggest joining these sentences with ‘or’) Lie to me again, though, and Ill gut ya. (Gutting usually means stabbing. Think fish.)

5SFX (From knuckledusters)

SHINK(Why?) (My head just had a small ‘splosion.)


IKE, still held up by his collar up against the wall, puts one of his hands on KENNYs arm (as if to push down and try and get away) and manages to crack a snarky smile.(You’ve not mentioned that Ike was against a wall until now.)


Right in front of you. But(suggest deleting ‘but’) youll just have to knock it outta me. (This is not good dialogue.)


Over the shoulder of SYRUS and LUKE, sitting on the edge of a roof a slight distance away, looking at the fight. SYRUS leans back on his arms, relaxed. LUKE on the other hand is leaning forward, . KENNY, in the background, has readied his arm for a punch.(This would be a nice place for some more captions, because I have no idea what the hell is going on, or why we should be invested.)


Hah, what a bunch of tools.(A bunch or a couple?)


Do you think we should interfere(seems like the word ‘intervene‘ fits better here) before one of them gets hurt? (Interfere is a bad word of choice, and intervene seems too highbrow for this character.)


I wouldnt worry about it, either outcome is fine.

(You are losing me. I am trying to stick with you, but there is no clear connective thread or motivation. It’s killing me. You are getting too light with your descriptions and retreating into your own mind, where you are hoarding all the information about what is going on here. You are no longer explaining what you see happening in a way that can be meaningful or useful.)

P4, and there’s still no story.

Know what that means? I get to tell one of my own!

Let’s see, what story should I tell?

Ah! Got it.

As a kid, I was something of a nerd. I wouldn’t say that I was mouthy, though. Teachers loved me because I was smart, a lot of the school knew my name, and there were some jealous elements because of it. I had gotten jumped a couple of times (beat up by two or more people) for reasons I don’t remember. It was a long time ago, and the reasons aren’t important enough to remember, I guess.

So, after the second time I had gotten jumped, my parents decided to put me into martial arts. They went had gone to school with Professor Griff of Public Enemy, and sent me to learn. (This was before PE was formed.)

I come from a large extended family. My mother is one of eleven, and my father is one of eighteen. I have a shit-ton of cousins. On my mother’s side, I’m the second oldest cousin. I have no idea where I’m at on my father’s side. My mother’s side is pretty close-knit, so even though my sister is almost 12 years my junior, I was never without family who could have been my brothers and sisters.

However, the third oldest cousin on my mother’s side, I’ve never liked. As a kid, we were oil and water. Immature, bothersome, and we just didn’t get along. My mother, though, would let him spend the weekend over our house during the school year, and he’d spend a few weeks over at my place during the summer. He was an only child.

One day during the summer, he wants to pick a fight. We’re downstairs in my basement (it’s a finished basement), and I keep telling him to leave me alone. He keeps attacking me, so I block his attacks and put him in various semi-painful holds, telling him to leave me alone because I don’t want to fight him. (Yes, I hurt him, and no, I didn’t like him, but I didn’t want to fight him.) After putting him in the hold and applying some pressure, telling him I didn’t want to fight, I’d then push him away, letting him out of the hold. He’d then get up and come at me again. Did I mention we didn’t get along?

He got extremely upset that he couldn’t beat me up, saying the only reason I was winning was because I knew kung fu. You could see the absolute hate in his eyes. He wanted to hurt me something fierce. Around this time, my father came downstairs and asked what was going on. My cousin is crying, trying to tell his side of the story, and I’m just hanging back in case he wants to have another run at me. He didn’t.

I tell my father that my cousin started it, and that I didn’t want to fight him. He then attacked me, so I put him in a few holds, but I didn’t hurt him too much. I just wanted him to leave me alone. We were separated for a few hours, and we got on with our lives.

The reason for the fight? No idea. Don’t remember the reason at all.

The story I just told, however, is also told in two different timeframes, one informing the other, and although the reasons for the fights aren’t given, the narrative makes the reason for the fights unnecessary. They’re just anecdotes from my childhood.

And they’re more interesting than this story we’re reading.




Action Panel (This isn’t good or bad, but methinks it’s totally unnecessary.). KENNY takes a swing at IKE with his knuckledustedfist, but IKE is too quick, and uses KENNYs other arm (the one hes already holding on to) as leverage to duck/dodge forward. (Moving panel. Methinks this entire fight is going to comprise of nothing but moving panels. Let’s see if I’m right.)


Dirty scumbag liar–


Action Panel. IKE, seeing his moment, goes straight for the palm to the chest. This knocks KENNY off balance and he rag-dolls instantly from the impact. His arms flailing in front of him, and his back almost breaking. IKEs hand is glowing, but its quite subtle as this is the exact moment when his powers activate. (Moving panel.)

2 SFX (From KENNYs spine)



Big, open, white panel. Spots of dark blood and spit dashed everywhere.(I don’t know if this is effective in the middle of a page, maybe on a turn, but here it’s just a break in the action.)


5.4 (insert)

KENNY looks seriously pained. His skin is pale, his eyes are lifeless and blood is dribbling out of his mouth down his face. Note: the next few speech bubbles on this page are all connected.

4KENNY (weak)

What… (Can he talk if he’s got a giant hole in his chest?)

5.5 (insert)

We see just the top of a steaming hole where KENNYs chest used to be. There can be some bones protruding out and blood stained clothes etc. (Nope. Big hole in his chest means he’s dead already. He was dead with the explosion.)

5KENNY (weaker)



KENNY has dropped to his knees, lifeless. Now we can see his whole body, and the gaping hole in his chest left by IKEs impact. If we see the background and such, behind him are guts and ribs that have been forcefully ejected outwards.(I see the humor in this. I really do, but I have to point out that if he is lifeless, he probably isn’t speaking.) (No. Impossible. This is what you’ve said: Kenny has dropped to his knees, and we can see the hole in his chest. If there’s a hole with an explosion, then which way did the explosion go? If it came from out of his chest, then guts and ribs should be in the foreground. If it came from out the back, then we should see some spine, which you haven’t mentioned. I’m not seeing how what you’ve described is possible.)

6KENNY (weakest)


(This is a very quick page, a real departure in pacing. Should we take an entire page to explore the idea of a guy getting a hole blown in his chest when we are still waiting on some real exposition to kick in? I’m not sure…)

Sam is a masochist. She is hardcore. I would have stopped here, personally, because there’s still no story. But Sam? She’s hard charging!

This page? We’ve got a fight that no one cares about. Why? Because we don’t know what anything is about. We can’t care about something if we don’t know what’s going on. And right now, on P5, there’s still no inkling as to what the hell is going on. Why are we here? Dunno. What’s the story about? Dunno. These extremely simple questions should not be asked when you’re five pages in.

Oh, and you can’t talk when you’re dead. That only happens in the movies, and that’s only with gunshots or knife wounds. (Did you know a gunshot to the shoulder can kill you? Neither did I. Watch enough bad movies, and you’ll pick up some terribly wrong things.) If your chest has been blasted out, there’s no talking for you because you’re dead. Too dead to talk.




IKE stands over a very dead KENNY, but is looking scared and worn out rather than triumphant.




This is bad.


IKE bends down to pick up KENNYs arms, so that he can drag him into the garage, but looks up when SYRUS interrupts him.


Alright, put down the dead (capital ‘I’)irishman. (Can’t put down what was never picked up. This panel has him bending down so that he can perform an action. It doesn’t say anything about performing that action.)




IKE drops KENNY and stands up straight, with his hands up to suggest no contact was made between him and the corpse (The reader isn’t going to understand that. Write what you mean.). His facial expression shows his curiosity of the situation.(Ike’s expression? Really? Curiosity?) SYRUS and LUKE appear from out the shadows, but there isnt much distance between the three. LUKE carries a holdall bag loosely is one hand, and SYRUS has a small messenger bag on his back, and his hands in his pockets. (Moving panel.)


Yo, I didnt touch him. Found him like that.


Dont play us, Ike. Weve been watching you for a while now. (I like how you worked his name in there. Very organic.)


Wait a minute, you know my name? You aint South McCarthys,(Should this be a possessive or a plural?) right?


SYRUS goes up to IKE and puts his hand on IKEs shoulder, comfortinghim. IKE is taken aback by the invasion of personal space, confused by SYRUSbehaviour. SYRUS meanwhile is in a fairly jokey mood, and smiles. (Moving panel. You’re moving from static writing to more of a screenplay type of writing. Or prose. Either way, it ain’t comics.)


Mate, we couldnt even have a crack at the accent if we tried.


You for real?


IKE turns to LUKE, who is kneeling down on the ground to get something out of his bag, but looking up to answer IKEs question. IKE points with his thumb to SYRUS, who is now in the background, walking towards the garage door.

10 IKE

Hey, is he for real?


Yeah, he is. As far as Im aware, the South McCarthys(I think you mean this to be plural, if so delete the apostrophe) are interested in more…common forms of criminality than in people like you.(suggest separating balloons) What youve got, most gangs wouldnt even let you in. Too scared, you know?

12 SFX



Closer on IKE and LUKE. LUKE has picked up a bandage roll, and is offering it to IKE. IKE stands with his arms crossed, looking intrigued.

13 IKE

So what youre sayinis you wanna hire me?


Not quite, but we deal with your kind a lot. Cover your hands with this. We dont need any problems on the way back.


LUKE is helping IKE with putting the bandages over his hands. The bandages should be done in a way that keep IKEs hand in a fist shape.


That should do the trick.


Luke, mate, I think Ive found out why the Magna Cartas(delete apostrophe) were in on this job…


Now(comma) stay here…(and dont go anywhere.This is redundant)

(This just stopped making any sense at all to me.)

Just now? It didn’t make any sense from P1, but stopped making total sense around P3. This page just goes deeper down the rabbit hole of inscrutability.

It’s crap. (Hey! I resisted saying it for as long as I could!)




From inside the garage, but pulled back all the way to so that we can also see the interiors,(What? We need to talk about prepositions, stay tuned.) LUKE stands with his hands on his hips, amazed by this small museum of firearms (Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Handguns, Grenades etc). SYRUS is on the floor, spray-painting his ram skull stencil on the ground.(I assume that his spray paint and stencil were in his bag, if this is the case you need to account for that, and mention the bag in this panel, maybe it’s opened, or sitting on the floor beside him? Otherwise these items appear from nowhere.)


Damn, they must have tried to smuggle a few thousand pounds worth of arms here.


LUKE, with his arms crossed, looks down at SYRUS apathetically. SYRUS lifts the stencil proudly.


What the hell are you doing?


Bagging and tagging. Way I see it, if the South McCarthys come back, theyll know we were here and can take up any grievances with Noah.


Bloody artists. Gotta leave your stamp everywhere, huh?


From the outside again, LUKE clambers out the hole. IKE stands next to KENNYs dead body, looking down at it, almost remorseful.


Hey, Ike, dont dwell on it.


Are we sharing the loot?(I might move this line down to the next panel.)


LUKE walks over to IKE, and stands next to him, so they both look reflectively at the corpse. SYRUSs hand pokes IKE on the shoulder to get his attention.(Can we see Syrus in this panel, or just his hand?)


No, youre already too dangerous.


I mean, were not as bad as these fuckers, but were not dumb either.(This needs context. Why should we assume that Ike being dangerous has anything to do with the South McCarthys being bad? Why would not being bad make someone dumb? I don’t get this line.)


IKE turns to SYRUS, who sprays him with a graffiti can. However, the spray comes out colourless. Maybe a couple air or motion lines should imply the action of spraying well enough. IKE recoils in shock, and maybe puts a hand up to his face.(This needs to be better explained. Is there some sort of knock out of knock out gas in this can? Why was it working as paint in an earlier panel? Did it just mis-spray, if that’s the case why is Ike on the ground in the next panel?)(Moving panel.)


Yeah wha–

10 SFX


11 IKE



Birds eye view, IKE lies knocked out on the ground next to dead KENNY. SYRUS and LUKE pick up their bags to get ready and leave.(We made need to see Ike hit the ground, I feel like you are skipping a step, but maybe that’s just me.) (Meh. It could use another panel, but it isn’t that big a leap between panels. I can live with it.)


(I have no idea what story you are telling. You have to let the people reading your script understand your intent. What we have here, Tommy, is a failure to communicate. You need to work on amplifying two things, clarity and context. Clarity comes into play in instances where you are leaving unanswered questions. For example in 7.4, are we seeing a hand or an entire figure. If you know, do tell. Context can be anything from properly orienting characters and objects in relationship to one another, to letting your team know why things are happening. Sharpen those two aspects of your writing and I think you’ll get much better results.)

Let’s just run it down.

Format: Flawless Victory!

Panel Descriptions: While they started off okay (not great, but okay), it degenerates relatively fast. Moving panels, panels that aren’t described well, panels that just can’t be drawn. It isn’t good.

Pacing: Pacing implies that the scenes are telling stories. These two scenes aren’t telling a story. There is no indication that anything that’s happening makes sense. So, while there are things that happen, none of it connects, and that gives the sense that nothing is happening. Nothing germane to the story, at least. So, the pacing is terrible, because there’s no story being told. We’re going to leave it at that.

Dialogue: The dialogue is in a weird place. First, it’s highly readable. I can see conversations taking place here. That’s the good part. The bad part is that the dialogue is extremely improbable in places, and has no bearing on the “story” in others. So, while conversationally readable, the dialogue is crap because it doesn’t tell a story.

Content: Crap. That’s the nicest thing I can say about it. Seven pages, and I have no idea as to what the story is about. I don’t even have an inkling. As a reader, I shouldn’t be lost when I read a story. I don’t have to have my hand held, but I shouldn’t have to bang my head against the wall in trying to understand just what the hell is going on. This “story” is inscrutable. No inciting incident, no explanation, no buildup of mystery… Just a whole lotta “no” going on.

Editorially, this needs a complete rewrite. You need to learn how to tell a story, you need to learn how to describe things visually, you need to learn how to have static panels, you need to learn how to make the individual parts of comic scripting work together in harmony. But you have to take them one at a time first.

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


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


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


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 for rate inquiries.

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