TPG Week 133: When Dialogue Is The Biggest Downfall

| July 12, 2013


Welcome back, one and all, to The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a new Brave One in Ryan Kroboth, hailing from Bumstead Regency Park, in Understated, North Iowa. (Yes, that’s right, I have no idea once again.)


Before we get too deep this week, I want to say thank you to all of you who have submitted. I sound like a broken record, I know, but we’re here because of you, and we literally cannot do this without you. We’re good for the next couple of months, but that doesn’t mean you should stop sending in scripts! Send ’em! We’re always going to need them.


So, with that said, let’s get to today’s contestant! We have Sam LeBas in purple, I’m in red (is there any other color?), and we’ll see what Ryan does with


Derikzl Saga


Page 1 (Seven Panels)

Page 1, Panel 1

The story takes place on the planet Leh. It is a flat world with no vegetation and the occasional rock formation jutting out from the ground. Some are the size of small hills, while others are mountains. This world has no sun. However, light is supplied from glowing purple energy that rises from cracks in the ground that resembles steam. These pockets of energy extend all the way to the clouds in the sky. Since there is no day or night, the atmosphere remains a perpetual red color at all times. (If the energy coming from a crack in the ground is purple, why is the sky red? Already you have established that light does not come from the sky, and that it is not white, how is your colorist supposed to deal with this? It’s almost like asking them to invent a new color, beyond the spectrum of what humans can see. It may sound cool, but it would be nearly impossible to realize with any kind of logical consistency.) (That’s just the beginning of the problems. No sun, then there’s little electromagnetic energy to actually sustain life. If the planet is large enough and the cracks are big enough to provide its own heat, then the surface is baking, there’s no water to drink, and the place is uninhabitable. Looks like someone didn’t do their science homework before they began writing. But that’s neither here nor there. This can be fixed with some hand-waving. Just don’t pay attention to it, and let the magic happen. No, the real problem is that this paragraph doesn’t belong here. Since the planet is a character as well, this info should have been in a separate document for the artist, as well as the colorist.)


We open to a wide medium shot of DERIKZL, walking on all fours toward the camera in the middle of the frame, from the thighs up. He looks anxious, and his eyes are shifted to his right. Directly behind him is a pocket of energy that is lighting the scene. A single lightning bolt crashes in the distance. (If he is on all fours, how is he shown from the thighs up? That description generally relates to standing poses.)

Caption: (Consider choosing a way to offset the character from the line, some effective methods include CAPS, underlining, line breaks, or centering the name. What you have is not necessarily wrong, it could be easier to read though.) (NOTE TO LETTER. Have the narration caption look like a burned piece of paper or scroll to show that it is not a speaker. Later in the script, all dialog for D’Ryu’Ku should be with black bubbles and red font.) (Line Break, it has become difficult to see where the note to the letterer stops and the actual caption begins. Also, put the second note to letterer near the text it refers to.) The wastelands of the isolated planet(comma) Leh(comma) are a place where only the foolish or (consider adding ‘the’) damned dare venture. Occasionally(comma) one is unfortunate (need a word here, possibly ‘enough’) to be both.

Caption (Derikzl): I’m starving! I really hope I find something to eat soon.(The second sentence seems redundant. Consider deleting.)

Caption (Derikzl): I really don’t have much time before the storm hits. (Beginnings the second and third lines of dialogue are identical. ‘I really,’ could be changed up.)

Page 1, Panel 2

An elevated shot of a mountain to DERIKZL’s left. SAIIMYS sits with his legs folded and his head down facing toward the left of the panel. His boken is stuck in the ground next to him. Above him, peering over the rock with his back to the camera is TEINJIRRA. Both characters and the mountain in the foreground are in silhouette with highlights on their outlines. Teinjirra looks to his right towards Derikzl in the middle ground. Derikzl is walking towards the left of the panel but is very small from this distance. His shadow looms in front of him, (which is cast from the energy pocket behind him from off panel.)(Move phrase in parentheses to after the word, ‘shadow’ so it is more obvious what it is modifying.) In the back round (background?) another rock formation can be seen coming up on Derikzl’s right. (Where is the light source for Saiimys and Teinjirra? The practical application of this lighting is going to be tough to keep straight. Also, ‘bokken’ produces more search results than ‘boken’ you may want to use the more common spelling so it is easier for people you are working with to find reference information, or to recognize the term.)(Wait. The mountain is in the foreground, as are these two other people who are watching your character, and then your character is in the middle ground. Right? Right. Now, if they’re both watching your character, there’s no reason for both of these people to be in silhouette, because their backs are to the camera. You’ve already created mystery. Why add to it unnecessarily by putting them in silhouette?)

Caption (Derikzl): Maybe I should just find shelter(comma) and wait it out.

SFX: Ba-dooom

Teinjira (small): he he he he(Three is plenty, delete one ‘he’)

Page 1, Panel 3

Derikzl’s point of view shot. His view is framed by the two mountains he is passing through.between, His shadow extends between them and the outlines of his hair point to an object in the distance that can’t be made out. (Weird wording, why is his hair pointing? Is it his literal hair, or a the shadow that doing this pointing? Why don’t you tell the artist what the object is so that he can hint at it here?)

Derikzl (OP): Hey!

Derikzl (OP): What’s that?!

Page 1, Panel 4

DERIKZL is running on all fours towards the right of the panel. We can make out an expression of excitement. In the foreground, A’MORTIKUS is hiding behind the other mountain with his back flat against the mountain and his head turned toward Derikzl. We can only see from his chest up, and his left arm is cut off the panel. His mouth is open and twisted in rage, his brows furrowed. Again, all the foreground objects are in silhouette with highlights. (The light source is killing me, so now Derikzl is running away from it, and putting more distance between himself and the glowing crack, yet we still make out that he is excited. A’mortikus, is hiding with a mountain between himself and the light source and somehow we can make out his furrowed brow. This is tough. )

Derikzl: Please be food!

A’Mortikus (small): Why must we go through all this trouble? (Here’s a good spot to name your character, I assume he is talking to Nagbnyz here, consider adding his name to the end of this line.)

A’Mortikus (small): We could just rip his heart out, string up his entrails, and—

Page 1, Panel 5

NAGABYZ stands with his back to the mountain, holding his kwan in his right hand. He looks to his left at DERIKZL in the middle ground running towards the right of the panel, whose excitement is more pronounced. The foreground is still in silhouette with highlights.

Nagabyz (small): We have our orders, brother. (Consider replacing brother with A’Mortikus, you need to introduce your characters by name.)

Page 1, Panel 6

Point of view shot of Derikzl, looking down at a bare skeleton of a demon. Derikzl’s shadow falls just below the skeleton. (Light source? Also, aren’t the characters demons themselves? Are they cannibals, eating their own kind? If so, that’s an interesting idea, it communicates the savagery of this world well, expound upon that.)

Derikzl (OP): Oh, great

Page 1, Panel 7


An over the shoulder shot favoring DERIKZL’s right. He is crouched on the ground. We can see a very small profile of his face looking down at the skeleton in front of him. The shadow from D’Ryu’Ku’s helmet falls across Derikzl’s back. (light source?)

Derikzl: Leftovers! And there’s nothing left! (Leftovers of what? Leftover by whom?)

Caption (Derikzl): At least out here we are all treated equ— (his thought is interrupted?)


Logistically, you are doing well. The characters are carefully placed, and you have accounted for what they are doing. You have, however; neglected to provide any motivation or history for this cast. The title character is scavenging for food, his brothers are watching him, and they don’t like him. Fair enough, I assume you are going to get the reader invested on the coming pages. We’ll see. Also, an omniscient narrator breaks in at the beginning, will that narrator be back? Don’t forget about that element as the story progresses.


So, we’ve got P1 on the books!


As soon as you stop looking at the format, it’s a mess. Let’s take a closer look at what we actually have going on here.


We have a magical, impossible planet. What it needs for life cannot be supported there. So, something—anything–scavenging for food is a non-starter right there. Light. A star of some kind. Along with an atmosphere, that’s all that’s needed. Waitaminnit. What type of body is this planet orbiting? It had to be held in place long enough to form, so what kind of body is it? Even exoplanets orbit something, usually a star, because it’s heavier than itself, even if that star is incapable of putting out enough light to live by. That red glow in the sky? That’s visible light. Where’s it coming from? From one junior scientist to a wishful thinker, your planet is impossible. You’d have been better off not describing the mechanics of it at all.


The real problem here, though, is the dialogue. It is extremely too direct. People don’t have conversations where they say exactly what they’re thinking, not even with themselves, and then, only when they have to. It reads very simply, lacking any real complexity. That’s going to be a turnoff for most readers.


As Sam said, you missed a couple of chances to name characters. That’s never a good thing. Putting names to things makes a reader feel as though they know more about them. Put in a character’s name as soon as you can, whenever you can. It has to be organic.

Page 2 (Seven Panels)

Page 2, Panel 1

A low wide shot. A’MORTIKUS stands a little behind the middle ground with his chest puffed out. His left hand/hammer hangs behind him and his right hand is balled tightly into a fist. He looks agitated. Behind him is NAGABYZ. He is standing a little further away than everyone else because of his height. He is holding his kwan out in front of him with both hands, angled to his left with the blade going off the top of the panel. He is expressionless. Next, in the middle ground is D’RYU’KU. He is directly left of the center of the panel. His arms are crossed in front of his chest, his eyes glow from the slits of his helmet. Directly right of the center of the panel, close to the camera in the foreground, is DERIKZL. He is shown from the bust up with his arms extended almost straight out. The hair on his head is puffed out like a cat’s tail when it’s scared, and the hair on his arms sticks up as well. He is wide eyed showing his sudden scare. Over his left shoulder is TEINJIRRA, who is standing in an exaggerated front stance with his arms up and elbows high. He is looking towards Derikzl with a maniacal grin. Finally, just behind Teinjirra is SAIIMYS, who is standing facing slightly away from everyone else. He is holding his boken over his left hip, glancing off the right side of the panel with a complete look of boredom on his face. (You’ve done a good job placing the characters, and you’ve provided a lot of information, but you still need to tell the artist what is actually happening so he or she can communicate it effectively. Also, this scene is taking place a good distance from your original light source, and you are asking for a lot of detail. You should add another light source nearer the action of this panel, so that it will be workable for the artist. This is the reveal of the tribe of brothers, it should be a large panel, maybe even a splash page, it’s a big moment, capitalize on it.)

D’Ryu’Ku (burst): Derikzl! (Is this the cause of the jolt? It should come before the reaction shown in this panel if that is the case.)

Derikzl: Ahhhhh!

Page 2, Panel 2

An extreme close up of DERIKZL’s eyes, looking to his right.

Caption (Derikzl): Oh, No! (This seems unnecessarily polite for internal monologue. I feel like there would be some cathartic swearing happening inside this guy’s mind right about now.)

Page 2, Panel 3

Close up of DERIKZL’s face, in complete shock with his mouth open.

Derikzl: D’Ryu’Ku! (Why is he calling out? For help? Does he think that D’Ryu’Ku did this jolty thing to him? Is this a question, like ‘what the hell are you doing here?’ add something so that his intention is clarified.)

Page 2, Panel 4

Medium profile shot of D’RYU’KU and DERIKZL, each framing their side of the panel. D’Ryu’Ku looks down at Derikzl while gesturing with his right hand palm up. Derikzl, who is still crouched on all fours, looks up at D’Ryu’Ku. He suddenly looks very angry.

D’Ryu’Ku: Glad to see you remember your old friend. (Again, try to clarify the relationship here, they are brothers, consider replacing ‘old friend’ with ‘brother,’ so that the reader knows that the characters are related.)

Derikzl: I remember kicking your face in!

Page 2, Panel 5

A medium shot. A’MORTIKUS has his right hand up in a fist in front of his face. His posture is slouched and his mouth is open wide with spittle flying out, his brows scrunched in extreme anger. D’RYU’KU is still facing toward the camera, but his right hand is out holding A’Mortikus back. His head is turned toward his direction. In the background another lightning bolt flashes.

A’Mortikus: Half (hyphen)breed scum! Stay your tongue when you speak to our Lord, or I shall slice it fr— (This is like saying ‘shut up when you are talking to me,’ consider replacing ‘stay your tongue’ with ‘remember your place,‘ or something like that. Also, half-breed of what? This is a great place to give the audience some history.)

D’Ryu’Ku: Silence, A’Mortikus! Some forethought would do you well.

Page 2, Panel 6

A bust shot of Derikzl from a three quarter view of his right side, looking downward in confusion.

Caption (Derikzl): Demon Lord D’Ryu’Ku?(If you are referring to D’Ryu’Ku this way because of A’Mortikus’ dialogue, then you should have the phrase ‘Demon Lord D’Ryu’Ku in that line verbatim. That will allow the reader to more clearly trace the line of thought.)

Caption (Derikzl): What about Lord Bathym? (Who? We need more here, even rewording to ‘what happened to Lord Bathym?’ would be helpful.)

SFX: Ba-dooom

Page 2, Panel 7

Same shot as last panel, except now his mouth is open with the shock of realization and his eyes have widened. This panel is in black with the outlines of DERIKZL in white.

Caption (Derikzl): His aura is completely gone! (Whose aura is gone? Why does it matter? There was no lead up to this reveal.)

Caption (Derikzl): Impossible!


End of page 2, and you still haven’t named all your characters. This is even more important because you are now referring to characters who do not appear on the page, by name. How is a reader supposed to know that Lord Bathym is not one of the blue demons depicted here? Also, I am still not completely clear on what happened to Derikzl in panel 1 on this page. That won’t do. I am reading the script, I should not have to wonder what is happening on a surface level. The discussion of auras comes out of nowhere, you need to give the audience some background so that they can care. This page is heavy, I would consider making panel 1 a splash and putting the action for page 2 on the third page. There’s enough of a question hanging at the end of this page for a turn.


P2, and things are going downhill extremely fast.


Absurd, really. Here’s what happened: your guy got frightened, told to shut up, and then realizes something out of the blue. Nothing of sense happened.


The brothers or whatever were on mountains, looking down on your guy. Then they teleported down? That’s the only way to get from one place to another so quickly. However, it isn’t shown. They’re just there. That’s bad pacing.


The rest of it is bad pacing, too. There’s backstory here, but it’s mentioned in such a way as to be baffling instead of enlightening. Kicking in someone’s face? That’s backstory to be had, but instead of following that train of thought to its natural conclusion, you start talking about auras. Blue, meet left field.


None of this makes sense. Dialogue has to make sense. You want to turn a reader off immediately? Have the dialogue be inscrutable. This is P2, and as such, your readers have just put the book down, wiped their hands, and have picked up another book to scrub the memory of what they just touched from their mind. Yes, the dialogue is that bad and nonsensical.


You took seven panels for what should have been a four or five panel page, and didn’t do anything with it, when what you should have done is follow a single train of thought before going off on another tangent.


The only possible saving grace is that this isn’t a page turn. Being P2 and on the left, the reader just needs to slide their eyes over to the right for P3. Hopefully, there’s something there worth reading.

Page 3 (Five Panels)

Page 3, Panel 1

Derikzl’s point of view shot of him looking up at D’RYU’KU, who is pointing at him with his left hand.

D’Ryu’Ku: Not impossible! Demon Lord Bathym has abandoned us!

D’Ryu’Ku: You are to blame, Derikzl! (D’Ryu’Ku is responding aloud to something that was in caption on the previous page. If he can read minds you may want to have Derikzl say something about it, otherwise it seems like a mistake.)

Caption (Derikzl): Ugh, not the prophecy again.

Page 3, Panel 2

A’MORTIKUS is close to the camera, scowling in rage. Behind his shoulder NAGABYZ stands with his kwan under his armpit, frowning in disapproval.

D’Ryu’Ku (OP): How dare you! The prophecy changed my father from a great conquerer of realms(comma) (No comma needed.) into a pathetic recluse. (What does this dialogue have to do with the panel description? Why is this character again responding to something said in a caption?)

Page 3, Panel 3

Full body shot of DERIKZL crouched on the ground, his mouth open and his face contorted in anger as he yells back at D’Ryu’Ku.

Derikzl: Look. (change period to comma) I don’t care about your prophecy, power, or any of that!

Derikzl: I just want to be left alone!

Page 3, Panel 4

SAIIMYS still stands with his hand on his boken, but has turned his head facing the confrontation that’s occurring. He has a small hint of a smile. In front of him is TEINJIRRA, who is snarling at Derikzl.

D’Ryu’Ku (OP): Fool! Power is all that matters.

D’Ryu’Ku (OP): The superior shall rule the weak.

Page 3, Panel 5

DERIKZL is looking down at the ground. No part of his face can be seen.

D’Ryu’Ku (OP): And the weak deserve pity. Bow to me! (Pity isn’t earned, ‘the weak must earn mercy’? or something like that, may work better here.)

D’Ryu’Ku (OP): Revere me as your king, and perhaps I shall be merciful.(Is he a king or a lord, pick one and stick with it. Since this is such a departure from the rules of everyday life, such a fantasy, you need to work at very clearly identifying and communicating the rules of the world, and the mythology you’re using.)

Caption (Derikzl): Will I bow to you? (Why is Derikzl addressing D’Ryu’Ku directly in his thoughts? Consider changing ‘you’ to ‘him’ or ‘my brother’ or ‘this tyrant’ or another descriptor. It might help communicate that this is not spoken dialogue.)


You still have not named all of your characters, and you have begun to completely ignore the environment. The lightning has stopped, the light source is forgotten, and the characters are no longer moving.


P3, and really, the only reason I’m continuing on is because Sam did.


P3 has no real connection with P2. It’s actually getting worse the further we go.


What’s the story about? It’s P3, and there doesn’t seem to be any story forthcoming. You had backstory to actually go into, but you haven’t made any kind of attempt to give it. Exposition is not a terrible thing when it is done well. The audience is lacking key facts for this story. That’s not a good thing. It’s the total opposite of good.


The first thing that’s needed are character names. You have eleventy-billion characters here, and only one of them has been kinda named. There could be confusion in the reader’s mind as to who is who. Your main character? Nowhere near being named, although he should have been. Terrible.


After that, the relationships between these people need to be clarified. They aren’t clear. They aren’t clear at all. You have two people who are supposed to be brothers, but that’s not even clear if they are actual family, or just brothers due to clan or circumstance. How is the reader supposed to figure this out if you aren’t clear about it?


I’m not going to beat you over the head with the setting. We’ve already stated how it doesn’t work.


Then, there’s the dialogue. Your titular character’s dialogue is straightforward and simple, and the others speak like Saturday morning cartoon villains: full of bombast and pompous. It’s a turn off. Ah. I think I just hit it. But we’ll run it down first in order to get there. But anyway, having characters seemingly respond to thoughts without explanation is a terrible thing to behold. I can say at this time, without any shadow of a doubt, that this is where you lost a bit of control in your story. Let’s see if that control continues to slip.

Page 4 (Four Panels)

Page 4, Panel 1

A medium shot on DERIKZL with a raised fist, his mouth is opened wide as he shouts in anger.

Derikzl: I would sooner die!

Page 4, Panel 2

An elevated view showing A’MORTIKUS, NAGABYZ (facing right), SAIIMYS, and TEINJIRRA (facing left) bowing to D’RYU’KU, who stands cross armed in the center of the panel. The bowing position for each character is kneeling right knee up, left fist touching the ground, and right hand touching the opposing shoulder. Each character looks down expressionless.

D’Ryu’Ku: Remember, then, it was your choice. Make him suffer, brothers!(Maybe call them by name here?)

Nagabyz: Yes, my Lord.

Teinjirra: Playtime! (maniacal laughter would work here.) (Neither works here. Remember the position of the character. It’s one of acquiescence. The first guy acknowledges the command. This guy should, too. That is what’s appropriate here.)

Page 4, Panel 3

Close up of A’MORTIKUS’s face with a half-smile.

A’Mortikus: Finally!

Page 4, Panel 4

Close up of DERIKZL’s fearful face.

Caption (Derikzl): Oh, damn.

Your pacing is off. Forgetting, for a moment, that it’s taking too long to get to a fight that doesn’t yet seem to have a reason for being, what you have here is a mini cliffhanger that’s ripe for a page-turn. This isn’t a page-turn location.


Pages get turned on odd-numbered pages. So this page should have been an odd-numbered page, not an even-numbered page. I know this means that you’d then be forced to put more crap between then and now, but that’s okay. It shouldn’t be too challenging to make it more relevant to the story. Or, if necessary, make P1 more dense with actual story, and make this P2 (after some much-needed condensing). But, well and truly, your pacing is off. The story is seeming to jump, and your cliffhanger looks to be in the wrong place. I haven’t looked at P5 yet, though. Let’s do that.

Page 5 (Five Panels)

Page 5, Panel 1

Similar to the shot on page 4, panel 2, however it is shifted on a 45 degree angle so it is looking towards the back of NAGABYZ. Where A’Mortikus was in the earlier panel is now replaced with a motion line going off the top of the panel. SAIIMYS and TEINJIRRA are shown expressionless with their heads turned toward DERIKZL, who is in an extreme close up profile of his eye opened wide and eye brow up in a worried expression. (I stopped trying to make sense of this as soon as you said 45 degree angle. The rest was like a Charlie Brown adult talking. This needs to be rewritten so that it both makes sense and won’t be lost as drivel.)

Caption (Derikzl): Why did I fall for that? I’m in no condition to fight. (Was that a trick? It didn’t read that way. This reaction feels out of place.)

Page 5, Panel 2

Close up of DERIKZL looking upward, his eyes and mouth open wide.

Caption (Derikzl): No! Don’t freeze now!

Caption (Derikzl): Move!

Page 5, Panel 3

Derikzl’s point of view of A’MORTIKUS diving towards his position left shoulder first with his hammer pulled back over his right shoulder. He has a small hint of a smile.

A’Mortikus: MyFather would have wanted me to have the first crack at you

Caption (Derikzl): Move! (Consider adding his name so that it is clear that he is pep-talking himself.)

Page 5, Panel 4

An over the shoulder shot of A’MORTIKUS about to land on the ground. In the background DERIKZL has his hands planted on the ground and his torso is turning away from A’Mortikus, but his head still remains fixated on him. He looks terrified.

A’Mortikus: so I canwill smash your skull to pieces(comma)(No comma needed.) in his honor!

Page 5, Panel 5

A’MORTIKUS hammer has impacted the ground sending debris in the air. His right knee is up, and he has a cocky smirk on his face. DERIKZL is flying toward the camera in the foreground, upside down with his arms stretched out and a panicked look on his face. His eyes look toward the right of the page.

A’Mortikus: He always said I tried too hard to make a big impression.

SFX: Krrrshh (Move SFX up before first line of dialogue, there is no delay between the action and the sound that way. Also A’Mortikus dialogue is a reaction to missing his mark, so hitting the ground must come before this line.)

Caption (Derikzl): Was that a joke?! (This line feels out of place. If the previous line of dialogue is supposed to be funny try making it a literal play on words, so that is more clear.)

Again you are doing a nice job with the character placement, and with describing the action. However, you are not telling a story just yet. We need more backstory, more of an understanding of the character’s reasons for fighting, more of an idea of why they hate each other, more information about how this world works. It’s a very well articulated fight between blue demons we know nothing about. You’re telling us about what they are doing, but ignoring why they are doing it. You have to make it matter.


I’m going to snip it here. It doesn’t get any better at all. Here’s Sam again, and then I’m going to run this down.

Here’s the biggest problem I see, you are creating a new world. It is very unusual: no sun, no plants, red sky… not like anything anyone is used to seeing. Your characters are equally unusual: blue giants with bat-ears and deformities. So, you’ve imagined something we are not familiar with, wonderful. That means you will have to work twice as hard to make readers relate to the story. There is no reason to assume that our problems are like the problems of the demon brothers. There needs to be some humanizing quality to these characters. I’ll say it again, you have to make us care.

Also, because your setting and characters are so foreign, you have to take on the role of ‘world builder.‘ When playing god, it becomes important to frame your new world with new rules and facts, so that readers are given a sense of what to expect. You haven’t taken much time to tell us about the mythology governing this planet, or the world-view guiding these characters. You must account for that. It’s fine that this isn’t OUR reality, it must still be A reality. In Judea-Christian texts, God created the world in seven days. In comic book terms that means that you should have something resembling a workable setting in seven pages. I don’t think you’re there yet. You never say in the text that Derikzl is half human, which seems pretty important. Even in the supplemental documents you provided us, you never explain if the brothers share a father (which would make Derikzl noble since the father is a king) or a mother. There is some thinking and planning required before you can move forward with this story.

While your grammar and syntax are clear, and you’ve given us strong description of what is occurring, you haven’t anchored it. With a story like this, anchoring is paramount.


I’m just going to run it down like I said.


Format: Flawless Victory.


Panel Descriptions: These need some work, but not a lot. You’re getting across actions fine, you’re telling what the characters are doing. You just have to be a little bit more clear with some actions, giving them a bit more thought. You also have to learn to tell the story with the panel descriptions. The artist should be able to tell the story through pictures only, with the dialogue to provide depth as necessary. You’re almost there with that. This is a good effort.


Pacing: The pacing here is dreadful. (New word for me, everyone! I’ve grown!) I’ve stopped at P5. Why? Because in five pages, absolutely nothing happened. If you were to ask a random person what the story was about after reading five pages of this, they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Some guys on some strange planet who may be brothers are going to fight, and one of them doesn’t have an aura. That’s all we get after five pages.


That’s crap.


There seems to be the beginnings of a story, but the threads are never picked up. The exposition that’s supposed to be there? Nowhere to be found. The exposition is what tells us what has happened before, informing us of why we’re here now. You have a piece of current information here, another piece of current info there, but none of it starts to build into a tapestry of actual story that a reader can follow. This is all fits, with no real starts.


In five pages, readers should have at least an inkling of the story. If this were better paced with a smooth progression of events, that would have happened. We got The Last Airbender, when we were looking for Avatar. (And believe me, I know a bad movie when I see one. The Last Airbender was a bad movie. So bad that even I didn’t enjoy it.)


Dialogue: That Saturday morning cartoon reference? This reads like bad anime, but on paper. I remember watching DragonBall Z with my cousin and his friends. They were all into it. Especially the Cell saga. I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t get into it. It was talk talk talk talky talk talk talk talking talk talk fight fight talk talk talking talky talk talk talk talk talky talking talk fight… It was terrible. Power levels and Sayans and super Sayans and whatever else. Terrible. This reminds me of that, but done without any knowledge of how to have dialogue tell a story. It’s called exposition, and there isn’t any to be had here. We’re just plopped down in the world, and then people show up and a fight looks to break out, and there is no reason given for anything.


And then there are the two distinct dialogue styles: directly to the point with no subtlety, and over the top pompous. Really, I consider all the dialogue here to be a placeholder until something actually worthwhile can be written and placed there instead. Absolutely none of this moves the story forward. It has the illusion that it begins to, and then you do everything in your power to make it fall flat on its face.


Finally, you have to name the characters where a reader can see it. Readers aren’t going to see the script, they’re going to read the comic. In five pages, you did that with only one character, and even that was half-assed. There’s room for confusion, and there shouldn’t be. That’s a total failure, because you had ample opportunity to put a name to a character in more than a few places.


At least I can’t complain too much about the punctuation. The fewer things I have to complain about, the better everyone feels.


Content: As a reader, I’d put this down and more than likely never pick up anything by you ever again. (And I’ve done that. There are certain comic writers whose work I just will not allow to sully my eyes anymore, even if they come in the middle of a run. I just won’t support them, because I believe they make bad comics.) I don’t think I could find any redeeming value in this, and unless there was some kind of exquisite cover that just grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go, I doubt I’d even pick it up.


Editorially, this would have to go back to the drawing board in order to find the story you’re trying to tell, so that you can tell it. The dialogue would be ripped out wholesale, and replaced with something that is much more palatable. What you have here, isn’t. Starting from scratch, going back to the actual plot and working from there, would be best for this.


That’s about it for this week. I want to say thank you again for the submissions, and keep ’em coming! Check the calendar to see who’s up next!


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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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