TPG Week 193: Another Resubmission Gone Wrong

| September 6, 2014


Welcome back, one and all, to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a Brave One who’s no stranger to these parts: Schuyler Van Gunten! We also have Samantha LeBas in purple, I’m in red, and we’ll see how Schuyler does with his resubmission of



PAGE ONE (six panels)


Panel 1: Winter. Venetian Countryside at night with Vittoria and Golgoth. This is the same scene from last issue, where Golgoth died. Vittoria is age sixteen and wears winter clothing.


The camera sits half underground allowing us to see Golgoth buried under a small layer of snow. Just beyond where he’s buried is a half wall. (Here.)If the half wall was not covered in snow we could see the burn marks from the fire that destroyed it. Vittoria stands on the other side of the half wall looking terrified. Behind her is a small road that leads to a one story house in the distance. The house is indistinct at this distance and it is covered in snow. Smoke pours from its chimney. It is just before midnight and the moon is overhead lighting the winter scene. In the left background are rolling hills that are covered in snow. The right side of the panel is lined with trees. The ones closer to the foreground are dead from the fire but as the background recedes, they are alive, just covered in more snow.

(So what is Golgoth doing here? Is this just his body? Is there also a ghost? Who speaks? The body? Does his mouth move? Does he emote? I’m a little confused by the mechanics of this.)

CAP (Golgoth): I died and was thrust into a lonely darkness. A young girl passed by(comma) and I called out to her.

CAP (Golgoth): Weeks passed, what seemed like an eternity to me, and finally she returned.

VITTORIA: Old Ghost? Are you there?

GOLGOTH: I am still here.


Panel 2. Close shot of Vittoria with fear on her face.

VITTORIA (small): My brother says you are just a fancy(interesting word choice). He says only witches can speak with the dead.


Panel 3. Profile of Vittoria as she puts her hand to her mouth in a gasp. The camera shoots at her left side and the rolling hills that are covered in snow can be seen in the background.

GOLGOTH (op): You do have the potential to wield powerful magic. It is a shame that sorcery is so frowned upon. All practitioners seem to be considered denizens of the night. (Stop telling and start showing, this should be obvious from the tone of the conversation and her reactions, you don’t have to spell it out.)

VITTORIA: But, magic is the work of the devil!

GOLGOTH (op): This ‘devil’ may use magic(comma) but it is not inherently evil. (What is not evil? Magic or the devil? This reads wonky. Also this is a whole lotta text for one panel.)


Panel 4. The essence looks like swirls of colored dust in space. There are two dominant colors pink and orange. The image below is for reference and the panel does not have to look exactly like that. A google image search on pillars of life or space dust would provide many more reference pictures. (What is the essence doing? Where is it coming from, are the characters interacting with it? Give us some context.)

CAP (Golgoth): All magic comes from the essence, parts of the Demiurge and Gaia that were left behind, after they combined to create the universe.

CAP (Golgoth): The essence is part male and part female, thus humans decided that there were two different kinds of magic.


Panel 5. The dust swirls together forming a Ying Yang looking pattern. Once again this image is only a good representation of what I am talking about, but as the artist, you may take liberties with the idea.

CAP (Golgoth): The magic pulled from the male part of the essence is more destructive and humans call it Black Magic.

CAP (Gogloth): The Female part of the essence is less destructive, humans call it White Magic.


Panel 6. This panel is just a Yin Yang symbol with the traditional colors. Or it could be something like the art shown below. The Yin Yang is what is important about this panel.

CAP (Golgoth): The truth is They are connected and both can be used for selfish purposes.

CAP (Golgoth): (open quotes)However, those who have magic must find an outlet for it. Otherwise, it can make them sick.(close quotes)

(Page 1 might need to have a touch more humanity. Hard to invest in swirling colors out of context. Can we see the characters looking at the essence? Do we need to look at only shapes for three panels? It’s an interesting idea, but it needs to relate to the people on the page, that’s how you’ll get people invested.)

So, we now have P1 on the books.

This is going to be a long night.

Let’s start with the panel descriptions.

There’s a reason why I advocate sparse panel descriptions. As soon as extra words get added, it starts to descend into abstraction and a buzzing that no one wants to read. What’s even worse, it’s the first panel that does it.

Panel 1 makes no sense as soon as we get to the second paragraph. If the camera is half-buried, then we can’t see much of anything in panel 1, can we? Everything after the word here cannot be drawn in the panel, so it cannot be seen. Not being seen means that it’s extraneous info, which means that it’s nothing more than noise.

Fun, right?

The rest of the page just devolves into an uninteresting explanation of how the magic in this world is seen. Uninteresting because it’s the first page, and just like any first page, it needs to bring the reader into the story more. No one is going to care about how the magic works on P1. They may care by P3, as long as you’re interesting, but not on P1.

On P1, readers want to know what’s going on, why they’re reading, and to have a reason to keep going. This? This is nothing more than a reason to close the book and then continue to search for a story that’s worth their attention and money.

P1 needs to be rewritten, because it’s uninteresting. It’s uninteresting by a lot.

PAGE TWO (six panels)


Panel 1. Vittoria is less afraid and more curious. She is leaning over the wall looking at the spot where Golgoth lies. (If we see Golgoth, we need to know what he is doing. Are we just looking at the ground?)(How can the reader see that she’s less afraid and more curious? How is that going to come across? If it can’t, why write it?)


VITTORIA: Why should I believe you? You could be the ghost of a witch.

GOLGOTH: I have been many people before, and (delete ‘and’) it is complicated.

VITTORIA: You have been more than one person?


Panel 2. Camera sits under the snow again, showing Skeleton-Golgoth buried there. (Why? What is this panel doing to push the story forward? What is being shown here that’s important?)


GOLGOTH: I have been a king, a knight, a healer, a sorcerer, a samurai Once, before men walked the Earth, I was Anunnaki. (Is the skeleton literally speaking or can Vittoria just hear his ‘thoughts’?)

VITTORIA: What is ‘Anu– (Is she OP here?)


Panel 3. Teodor stands in the doorway of his home with a candle holder in his hand. The holder has a burning candle in it. Teodor wears a white nightgown and a white night hat. The house is a simple one story, three room structure, made of wooden frames filled in with crude bricks. It has a peaked roof and a chimney that juts out from it. The door is made of wood. There are no windows on this side of the building. The camera shoots from a distance, but Vittoria and Golgoth are still off panel. (Might want to show Vittoria, jarring otherwise.)


TEODOR (big): –Vittoria!

VITTORIA (small, op): I have to go.


Panel 4. Vittoria sits on the half wall now and the scene is almost identical except it is three nights later.


CAP (Golgoth): Vittoria came to visit me a few more times(comma) but I could not see a way to change her future.

VITTORIA: I want to learn how to use my magic.

GOLGOTH: It will be difficult without a teacher. (OP, right?)


Panel 5. Medium shot of Vittoria with a pleading look on her face. (What does that look like? This is her face, right? What does that look like?)

VITTORIA: A teacher? My papa would never allow that. You will have to teach me. (‘Can you teach me?’ might make more sense here.

GOLGOTH: We do not have enough time. (Where is he?)

VITTORIA: What do y–


Panel 6. Medium shot of Teodor who stands just outside his house in the snow. The door is open behind him. He has the same candle and get up as previously. There are some candles burning inside the house as well. We see the light from them but we cannot see the candles themselves. There is no furniture visible through the open door. (You’re repeating yourself, but it doesn’t do anything for the story. What are some reasons we would have repeating actions, Felix?)

CAP (Golgoth): The same fire that took my life burned down Vittoria’s home, with her mother inside. Vittoria’s father probably assumed that she was coming out here to speak with her deceased mother. (I don’t think this makes sense in the timeline you set up. I hope I’m wrong.)

TEODOR (big): –Vittoria! You cannot keep coming out here at night!




(Okay, Two things. The rhythm is already getting predictable. She asks a question, or half a question, and her dad calls her inside. He has emerged from the house at the perfect moment to keep her from getting the information she needs twice now. Not completely offensive, yet, but getting there. Also, I do not understand the way you want Golgoth to be depicted. You need to clear that up a little.)


I once edited a script from a client. The client was a playwright, and studied television. They wanted to tell a story with a lot of little cliffhangers. Every time the dialogue got interesting—about two pages—they’d switch to a different scene.

I said it was no good. They said that it worked in television, because that’s where the commercials would be. I said them that that was television, this is comics. If they put in a lot of little fast cuts (changing the scene every page or two), then they are actively getting in their own way as they tell the story, and the reader will not want to follow along.

I told them that the story would be better served if they collected all the fast cuts and put them into longer, more satisfying scenes.

They stuck to their guns. I stuck to mine. Eventually, they saw it my way, and it was like an epiphany. They changed it, cleaned up some of the language in order to smooth the transitions they had put in, and the story was much stronger for it.

This? This is nowhere near as interesting as that story, but you’re doing something close to the same thing. You’re trying to string the reader along, so that they get deeper into the book. However, the dialogue isn’t strong enough to perform the action.

Six panels, right? What’s so great in this page that it warrants six panels? What happens here? Nothing. An aside about the lives he led, but that’s really about it.

Two pages of nothing.


PAGE THREE (five panels)


Panel 1. Early spring/late winter. The city of Venice in the early morning with Teodor and Vicenzo. Teodor and Vicenzo both wear their Cardinal’s robes and hat. (Venice, like Italy? Like Catholic? Why does he have a daughter and a deceased wife if he is a Cardinal? Am I missing something?) (Could be the timeframe, but I’m with you on this one.)


Cam is behind and above Vicenzo as he approaches Teodor in the streets of Venice. Vicenzo approaches on foot. Vicenzo is on the left side of the panel in the foreground. Teodor approaches on a donkey. Teodor is in his full cardinal get up and faces the camera in the center of the panel. On the right side of the panel is a half wall between the narrow street and a canal that runs next to the street. On the left are looming, two story, brick buildings that are packed tightly together. In the right background is a small bridge that crosses the canal.


CAP (Golgoth): Vittoria’s story begins with her father. Teodor was a widower with two children and a lack of wealth.

CAP (Golgoth): He was not the type of man to accept a handout but he did believe in charity.

CAP (Golgoth): He was a powerful man, a Cardinal and the Patriarch of Venice but the truth was He needed some charity.


Panel 2. Profile shot. Teodor and Vicenzo have grasped hands in a warm handshake. Teodor is on the left side seated on his donkey. Vicenzo is on the right side standing on the ground looking up at Teodor. Behind them is a brick building.


CAP (Golgoth): Vicenzo was a fellow Cardinal, although, he was motivated more by politics than religion.

TEDOR: Hello, Vicenzo.

VICENZO: Teodor, I have heard the horrible news, my friend. I have sent you some coin and clothing. I may need your help someday.(What is the horrible news? This seems like a strange segue. From bad news to coin and clothing? Why?)


Panel 3. Same street different day. The positions have reversed. Vicenzo faces the camera and rides a beautiful mare. Teodor is on foot looking up at Vicenzo. The canal is still on the right side of the panel so the open space leads the eye forward.

CAP (Editorial): Two weeks later

CAP (Golgoth): Teodor was unaware that Vicenzo’s ‘charity’,(move comma inside single quotes) came with a price.

VICENZO: His Holiness has asked that you support him in his talks with Venice. I am sure we can count on you to do your part?


Panel 4. Profile as Teodor makes a sour face realizing his mistake. Vicenzo has his brow furrowed in mock concern.


TEODOR: I cannot do that. The demands of His Holiness exceed what Venice is capable of giving.

VICENZO: Perhaps you do not understand our arrangement?


Panel 5. Camera faces Golgoth and Ambrogio who sit on a small hill in the Persian mountains. There is a cliff wall behind them. Golgoth is missing one of his eyes and Ambrogio is just a corpse. It is early evening. This panel should resemble the last panel of issue one. (Is Golgoth a skeleton here? I don’t understand what the corpse is doing, how are they interacting? Is Ambrogio animate? Is he just propped up? I need more information.)


GOLGOTH: I am not in favor of the word destiny(put this word in single quotes, or italicize it. When you refer to a word within a sentence you have to set it off with some sort of punctuation.) because it implies a destination. I prefer the word fate(set off with punctuation).

GOLGOTH: Fate is a set of circumstances, which make a particular event unavoidable.

GOLGOTH: Teodor’s circumstances were leading him, unknowingly, on a certain path.

INSERT PAGE BREAK (And there goes your Flawless Victory.)

(I am having the hardest time imagining what you want Golgoth and Ambrogio to be. I read the character document that you attached and I still cannot get a clear image of what you expect. You don’t describe them acting or gesturing in any real way, are they just lifeless bodies with speech bubbles? This has to be more clearly communicated. Also, your scene change is on an odd page, I don’t know if the narration alone is a strong enough connection to justify that.)

Alright. It’s P3, and it’s time to call a spade a spade.


This is crap.


Your character is a cardinal, was married, and had kids. I’m not the world’s greatest historian, but I seem to recall Roman Catholic clergy being unable to marry. Sure, posts within the Church were given out willy-nilly at a point in time, generally to family members, and a lot of that was to consolidate power. Is that what happened here? No idea, and I don’t really care.


What do I care about? The fact that this will be seen as a mistake by anyone with even the barest inkling of Roman Catholicism.


Why is this crap? Well, let’s ask a different question.


Who’s story is this?


The first two pages, we’re focused on the girl, through the skull. Now, we’re focused on the father, through the skull.


Who’s story is this?


Then, after that question is answered, the next is why ? Why are you trying to invest the readers in these characters?


Now, the next question is obvious: what is this story about? We’re three pages in, and there’s no hint as to why we’re here. Fun, right?


Lastly, what makes this crap: that last panel? Who’s he talking to? In the previous issue, he was talking to a man, and I assumed that he was talking to the same guy here. Now, that last panel, there’s no one there to talk to. So what’s that about?


And it’s still uninteresting.





PAGE FOUR (five panels)


Panel 1. Teodor’s home. Spring. Profile of Teodor, Vittoria and Heironomo.


Teodor has just entered the main room of his home. Vittoria faces him with her hands on her hips and a pouty look. She has her left side to the camera. Heironomo stands to her right looking a little indifferent. Vittoria and Heironomo are both dressed in shoddy clothes. In the background is Teodor’s desk, which faces the only window in the home. The sun of midday shines through. Behind Heironomo on the far right background is the entryway to the pantry. The floor is waxed wood.


CAP (Golgoth): A path that would, ultimately, end in his own demise.

VITTORIA: Papa?! Where is our clothing?! (They are wearing clothing, should she say ‘our new clothing’ or ‘our good clothing?’ It’s a little confusing.)

TEODOR: I had to return those items to Vicenzo. Your father is not for sale.


Panel 2. Front shot of Heironomo as he reacts in anger. He points at Vittoria’s head. Behind Heironomo on the left side of the panel is the door to the pantry. Behind him on the left side is the doorway that leads to the only bedroom of the home. It does not have an actual door, it is just a doorway.


HEIRONOMO: That is why we had to dress in these old clothes?! Vittoria got to keep her hairpin and I got to keep nothing! That is unfair!

TEODOR (op): The hairpin will have to be returned as well. You are being small-minded, Heironomo. (We need to see the hairpin, you’ve not mentioned it yet, seems a weird thing to comment on.)


Panel 3. Vittoria grabs her hair, where the hairpin sits. She looks at her father in resistance. Behind her is the same entryway to the bedroom that was in the last panel.(And there it is, needs to be present before it’s discussed.)


VITTORIA: I do not want to give it back!(Does she need to say it, are you telling instead of showing again?)


Panel 4. Same profile angle as the first panel on this page. They are all shocked at the sound of a voice from outside.


CAP (Golgoth): Teodor’s ‘fate’ was not only determined by his circumstances(comma) but by his predictable response to those circumstances.

INIGO (big, op): Teodor!

TEODOR (small): Quickly, children, hide!


Panel 5. Midday. Profile of Íñigo as he steps up to Teodor’s home. The snow is gone now and it is spring. Íñigo’s horse is tied to a post behind him on the left side of the panel. Íñigo is center panel as he steps up to the house. The house is on the right side of the panel. The rolling hills that were once covered in snow are now grassy hills that recede in the background.

CAP (Golgoth): When Teodor returned the bribe, a man named Íñigo got involved.*

INIGO: Ya got company, old man?!

CAP (Editorial): *Íñigo, pronounced En-yay-go .(No, don’t. Don’t do that.)

(This just seems so disjointed, the narrative is not flowing. It’s like jello that refuses to set because you didn’t let the water come to a full boil. Nothing is happening, or maybe a lot of little things are happening and I just can’t tell why. This is very hard to follow.)

P4, and it’s still crap.

I don’t know what the story is about. I don’t know why we’re reading this. I don’t know why this story is being told. I know nothing, and really, as boring as it is, I don’t want to know. I’m not interested in the least.

Why are you torturing us, Schuyler? That’s the only thing that this can be called. Torture. Why are you doing this?

Basically, I’m just asking the same questions.

Let’s see how far Sam goes.


PAGE FIVE (four panels)


Panel 1. The camera shows Íñigo as he enters the room. Íñigo has already drawn his sword and has a look of joyful fury (My head? ‘Sploded. Right here. Because you know better than this.). Teodor faces Íñigo with his back to the camera. The children are hidden in a wardrobe off panel.


CAP (Golgoth): Íñigo was known as, ‘The Wolf’ of the pope. Except, it was Vicenzo that always gave him his orders. (Should we see ‘The Wolf of the Pope’ as his title? I think that makes more sense.)(And remove that comma in the first sentence. And when you’re talking about the Pontiff, you’re always going to capitalize it. The Pope. You can be the President… I’d rather be the Pope. You can be the side effect… I’d rather be the dope. )

TEODOR: Íñigo, you are naught, but a glorified errand boy with delusions of grandeur.(This scene predates the coining of that phrase, didn’t exist in common vernaclar until the late 19th century.) (And another comma? Really?)

INIGO: What do ya think you’ll gain by insulting me?!


Panel 2. Medium shot of Íñigo who smiles a sinister smile.


INIGO: Or, perhaps yer trying to protect yer company by making me mad.(This dialect seems almost cockney. Why is he speaking this way? He’s in Italy, his name is Spanish… it’s just not adding up)

INIGO: A woman? I could use a toss


Panel 3. Front shot of Teodor as he screams for Heironomo to run. This shot should not be zoomed in too close.


CAP (Golgoth): In that moment, I am sure that Teodor knew Íñigo would search the house and find his children.

CAP (Golgoth): He sacrificed one to ‘The Wolf’, hoping to spare the other.

TEODOR (big): Heironomo, run!


Panel 4. Wide shot from behind Íñigo. Teodor throws has hands out as if he is going to wrestle with Íñigo. Behind Teodor is a door that leads to the pantry. On the right is a small room with the wardrobe. The room has a doorway but no door. Heironomo is bursting from the wardrobe at full speed with a determined fear.


INIGO: Yer a fool! I’ll kill ya both!

(When the door of the wardrobe flies open, Vittoria, who has always been nothing but obedient stays put… because her father only told her brother to run? Inigo doesn’t see her? This does not seem at all logical to me. At least we are starting to see some action, I guess.)


The dialogue is killing me.


You’ve got the voice of the skull down. It isn’t changing much from one point to another, as it was in the previous script. However, your villain? I’m with Sam…he sounds English.

It’s terrible.

The anachronism? I can forgive that, somewhat. However, for a person who loves to do their research, it sticks out as lazy.

Now, if the villain has been sent there to kill him…how does he not know that the cardinal has children? Where’s the sense?

PAGE SIX (five panels)


Panel 1. Camera above and behind Íñigo. Íñigo stabbed Teodor. The sword entered in the center of Teodor’s abdomen, blood flowing around the wound. Teodor’s whole body is tensed up as he feels the blade enter. Heironomo is running past Íñigo headed for the front door. His face is full of fear in the right foreground.


TEODOR: hurrrgh!


Panel 2. Heironomo runs down the path with the house behind him. Heironomo is scared but determined. Vittoria has a small inset and she is huddled inside the wardrobe with her knees against her chest. Light spills in from the door Heironomo opened to run away. Vittoria is terrified. (These are two separate panels, the inset and panel 2, you need to write a description of both.)


CAP (Golgoth): Heironomo played his part without flinching. He lured Íñigo away from the house.

CAP (Golgoth): Perhaps they both knew what their father had intended But, it was fear that kept Vittoria from revealing herself, not obedience. (Yeah, still not buying it. Why would her brother run, he seemed petulant and sullen earlier, now he’s willing to sacrifice himself to save his sister?)


Panel 3. Camera behind Íñigo, who is halfway on his horse, Heironomo runs away in the background. Burned ruins and trees from page one in the left background. Rolling green hills on the right.


CAP (Golgoth): I had foreseen this moment over and over. I warned Vittoria, I said things differently, I tried everything. (He mentions rephrasing his warnings, that is hardly ‘everything.’)


Panel 4. POV. Íñigo is riding his horse aiming his crossbow with his right hand, holding the reins with his left. We are looking down the sight of the crossbow right at Heironomo, who runs down the path towards the ruins. The burned ruins are closer now.(Where did this crossbow come from?)


CAP (Golgoth): Some of the other outcomes I saw They were more gruesome than the tale I tell you now.


Panel 5. The bolt from the crossbow sails through the air.




P6. No one’s getting this far.

Why are we still reading this?


PAGE SEVEN (five panels)


Panel 1. The crossbow bolt struck Heironomo in the leg. (And he…?)


HEIRONOMO: eeaaaagh!


Panel 2. Heironomo stumbled and is headed face first for the ground. He is falling behind the half-wall of a burned building. The same scene from page one and two.




Panel 3. Heironomo landed with his face right next to Golgoth. He is quite out of breath and wounded. His eyes are wide from shock. Golgoth does not have his eyes and he is still attached to his skeleton. Golgoth still has some hair and flesh on his body and skull. The camera shoots from above them.(Man, Golgoth is really hard for me to grasp visually.)


GOLGOTH: Hello, Heironomo.

HEIRONOMO: <huff> Sk-sk-skeleton! <pant> (Not ‘Ahh’ or something of that nature?)

GOLGOTH: You must not tell him about your sister.


Panel 4. Heironomo is holding his leg weeping. (And Golgoth is where?)



HEIRONOMO (big): Oh, God! Help!


Panel 5. Íñigo has just dismounted from his horse and he is drawing his sword. His hand pulls on the hilt but the blade is still mostly sheathed. His horse is directly behind him. Beyond that is the road that leads up to Teodor’s home. (Where did the crossbow go?)


INIGO: Who’re ya talking to?!

HEIRONOMO (op): P-please spare me!

(Okay, I think this is probably the most successful pacing we have seen yet. I feel like the story may be starting now.) (But no one is getting this far.)

P7. I’ve really stopped caring, because it’s all the same questions, all over again.



PAGE EIGHT (four panels)


Panel 1. Íñigo stands with his sword pointed at Heironomo, within striking distance. (Where is Golgoth? What are the characters expressions like?)


CAP (Golgoth): Íñigo was raised by mercenaries. Horrid, bloody, battle,(why is this comma here) was his home.

INIGO: Who’re ya talking to?!

HEIRONOMO: It is the sk-skeleton! It sp-spoke to me! P-please spare me!(Why is he stammering on some words and not others? Is this meant to indicate sobbing or fear? I think you could lose the stutter here.)


Panel 2. Íñigo holds his right hand reared back, ready to plunge his blade into Heironomo. He holds his left out to the boy palm open. His forefinger is extended the rest of his fingers are slightly curled but not enough to close his palm. The camera shoots over Íñigo’s shoulder or slightly behind and above him, so that we can see Heironomo. Heironomo is blocking his face with both hands. His hands block the mouth and nose area well but he has kept his eyes visible and he looks up at Íñigo in utter terror.


CAP (Golgoth): He was an awful man. He was not driven by greed, or lust. He liked power(comma) but it was not his great ambition either.

HEIRONOMO (big): N-no! P-please!

INIGO: Shhhh.


Panel 3. Íñigo has plunged his blade into Heironomo’s chest. (Know who likes watching kids get killed? No one. This works better if the killing is off-panel.)


CAP (Golgoth): His only purpose was to get back home, back to the bloody gore he was raised in. (This is wonky, maybe ‘to feel closer to his home?’)



Panel 4. Íñigo has knelt down next to the skeleton-Golgoth. Heironomo’s head is on the left side of the panel. Skeleton-Golgoth is on the right side of the panel. Íñigo is mostly seen from his back and knees as he kneels down. He is in the immediate foreground. Íñigo is wiping his blade on Heironomo’s corpse.


CAP (Golgoth): Íñigo was a true dog of war.

INIGO: Do you talk, corpse?(Since you are in the unique position of having both a corpse and a skeleton in your cast, why not refer to them consistently in one way or another?)



(You are simply relying too much on your VO. I don’t feel like your art is doing nearly as much work as your text. I wish you would try to focus on integrating your visuals with you dialogue and captions more completely. You are not leaning on the visual elements. This is an illustrated prose piece right now. I was going to stop here, but I see that we get some answers to some questions that have been eating me up on the next page.) (And now, it’s Sam who’s torturing us, by proxy!)

P8, and really, it’s just terrible.

The bad guy asks a question, and the skeleton answers in the negative?

Does anyone else really care right now?


PAGE NINE (six panels)


Panel 1. Medium shot of Íñigo. He has stood up again and holds his sword still. He clutches his gut with one hand as he laughs to himself.


INIGO: I’ve never met a ghost! Bwahahaha!

INIGO: Yer not so scary. Yer also not pale and misty. Bwahaha!(Thank you Inigo, I have been trying to figure that out.)


Panel 2. Íñigo smirks as he looms over skeleton-Golgoth.(No idea what this looks like. How far out? What is Inigo doing with the rest of his body?)


GOLGOTH: I am not that kind of ghost.

INIGO: Can ya move?(A fabulous question!)

GOLGOTH: No.(Got it.)


Panel 3. Íñigo has his sword over his head as he prepares to cut Golgoth’s head off.


INIGO: Ya won’t be needing your body, then.


Panel 4. The blade has just split Golgoth’s head from his spine. This panel is a closer shot of Golgoth and the sword.(Still don’t know if the skeleton can emote or if its mouth moves.)


SFX: Cliiink


Panel 5. Behind shot of Íñigo as he carries Golgoth by his hair. Íñigo has sheathed his blade now. Íñigo’s horse is in the immediate background and that is where he is headed. Beyond the horse is the road and Teodor’s house.


CAP (Golgoth): That is how I became the property of Íñigo ‘The Wolf’ Ibarra. (I like this panel.)

Panel 6. Zoomed out shot of Íñigo climbing on his horse. Golgoth dangles from Íñigo’s hip. Vittoria is in the forest that sat beyond the small burned down settlement. She is in the background, panel right.


CAP (Golgoth): Vittoria built up the courage to help her brother but, she came too late. Then, she recognized a voice she had spoken to in the snow.

GOLGOTH: I would like to be called Golgoth. It is the name I have chosen for myself.

INIGO: Bwahahaha! Ya won’t need a name because ya won’t be around for long.

(I know that this is part of a larger story. I understand that, but I am still really struggling to see how all the pieces fit together, and not in a LOST was a really fabulous program that kept viewers guessing kind of way. You are not building mystery, you are building confusion. From Vittoria and yin yang essence, to a widowed Cardinal, to a hitman named Inigo with a cockney accent, to a talking skeleton and an idle corpse, I just cannot keep track of all the moving parts. The interesting idea here, to me, is this brute, Inigo and this harbinger of fantastic wisdom, Golgoth, being paired in a kind of buddy comedy bromance. We’ve only just now gotten to that. Don’t bury your lead, ha, get it, your main character was actually buried on page 1, ha. Seriously though, find the thing that makes your story most appealing and drop the reader there, or get them there sooner. That will serve you well.)

Woohoo! Let’s run it down!

Format: No Flawless Victory. This is what happens when you miss a page break.

Panel Descriptions: These need work.

Sometimes, it feels like I’m talking just to hear myself talk. It’s frustrating. Joyful fury? How can that be drawn? How is this something that an artist can depict? Prosaic, and it’s terrible.

I want you to take the word shoot , and I want you to kill it. If you need a camera angle, just say what we’re seeing.

Describe from left to right, using the fewest words possible. Make sure your panels can be drawn.

Pacing: Turbl. T-u-r-b-l. No one’s getting past P3, let alone to this far. It’s boring. Nothing of any interest happens. We move from one person to another to another. No one really cares. Even when we get to the villain, I don’t care.

How do we make this better? Well, we ask the question, what does this story do that needs telling?

Does any of this need to be told in order to get the villain to the skull?

I can’t tell a short story. I’m a writer/storyteller, and I know that if I give people the entire story, then they won’t ask any questions at the end because I’ve already answered them. I go back as far as possible in order to tell the most complete story, and then I launch. That’s me, though, and I know how to tell a story.

As a writer, I know where to start a story that will draw a reader in. Your first page? It has nothing at all to do with P9. That information has no bearing on what we have here. The first few pages can be cut as padding.

Dialogue: It’s better in that the voice is more consistent, but the dialogue isn’t doing what it needs to do. It isn’t drawing the reader in. I’m left wondering when the story is going to start…and by the time it does, I don’t care.

(I’m about to repeat myself…) Dialogue has to do two things: it has to reveal character and move the plot. Most of what you have here doesn’t do either. P1. What is revealed there? How is the story pushed forward? My point exactly. It’s terrible.

Content: Crap.

As a reader, I don’t know what or why I’m reading this. If I can’t get an inkling in the first few pages, then I’m not interested later. And you tried to kill us with boredom for at least seven pages.

As an editor, I’d say this needs a rewrite. I’d need to know how you wanted to affect the reader, what the story is trying to do, and then we’d make the story reflect that. Right now, this isn’t doing it.

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


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


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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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