TPG Week 51: Characters Cannot Stand Around

| December 16, 2011 | 15 Comments

Hello, and welcome back to another installment of The Proving Grounds! This week, we have a returning Brave One in Lance Boone! He brings us a well-known character in

Twisted Savage Dragon FunniesThe Savage Dragon Afterschool Special

Page 1

Panel 1

Daylight. Wide Establishing panel of the exterior of the Dragons’ home. DRAGON is

push-mowing his grass. Off to the side of Dragon are a YOUNG ANGEL and MR. GLUM. Angel is kicking at a ball, while Mr. Glum glumly watches on. (Okay, right off the bat, none of these characters are placed. If this were written as it should be, going from left to right, we have Dragon on the left, Angel in the middle, and Glum to the right. Is this all happening in Dragon’s yard? I don’t know, and neither does the artist. The good news is that we have a Who, When, Where, and What. Technically, this is an establishing shot. I just want better placement.)


Title panel: The Savage Dragon Afterschool Special


Panel 2

On Angel and Mr. Glum now. The flicker of an evening sky behind them. (I have someone new to pick on! Don’t you love it? I know I do. Don! You’ve been watching and learning for a few months. Why was I just made unhappy? It wasn’t enough to make me lose my mind, but I’m definitely not happy. Thanks.)


ANGEL: You don’t seem like you’re having very much fun, Mr.



MR. GLUM: I find this planet’s banal recreation rather assaulting to

my superior intellect.


MR. GLUM: Although I have found an activity, which escapes my

abilities of reasoning and logic, that I must try.


Panel 3

Panel on Mr. Glum who is holding a pack of Llama’s brand cigarettes toward the

reader. An unlit cigarette hangs from his mouth. (I have no idea what this means. Panel on? Is that a typo? Because it definitely isn’t a camera direction. No, I’m not advocating slavish use of scripting terms. What I’m advocating is clarity. I shouldn’t have to suss out what you mean. Even if it takes half a second, if it causes me to pause, then that’s time I could have spent doing something else. Now, you have a jump in Border Time here. The cigarette pack I can understand, and would have let you get away with. That isn’t what’s causing the jump. What’s causing the jump is to also have one in his mouth. Lit or not, that’s too big of a jump to fathom.)


MR. GLUM: I intend to inhale the smoke produced by this cylinder

of paper to discover what mystical properties it



Panel 4

Panel on Angel and Mr. Glum. Angel is quickly swiping the pack of cigarettes out of

Mr. Glum’s hand. (You’re going to make me go out of my mind with panel on. Panel On doesn’t mean anything. Nothing at all. You could delete the entire sentence and not effect anything in the description at all. That means that it is useless. Think of scripting in terms of time and money. The more time you spend writing unnecessary things, the less money you have the potential to make. Not good. Okay, with that out of the way, this could be handled two ways: you could just show the hands performing the actions, but that isn’t dramatic. You could pull out to show the two characters and their actions, but the panel description is missing something. Lisa? What is it missing?)


ANGEL(agitated): Those are cigarettes, Mr. Glum! They’re bad for




Panel 5

Panel on Angel and Mr. Glum. The panel angle should accommodate Dragon in the background In the foreground, Angel is scolding Mr. Glum. She is holding the cigarettes outward in her hand in such a way that someone unfamiliar with the situation might think she was offering one to Mr. Glum. An unlit cigarette still hangs

from Mr. Glum’s mouth. In the background, Dragon is walking by with his lawn mower. He is looking toward Angel and Glum. A look of shock is on his face.


NO DIALOG(This could work, but I’d rather if you said No Copy. If you get used to that, the letterer would then know that there’s no text in the panel.)


Page 2 (Page break! You know better, Lance!)


Panel 1

A now agitated Dragon, unaware of the true nature of the situation, is standing

between Angel and Mr. Glum. With one hand, he is now snatching the pack of

cigarettes out of Angel’s hand, just as Angel had done to Mr. Glum. With the other

hand, he is pulling the unlit cigarette out of Mr. Glum’s mouth. (Liam, what am I going to say here, and why am I going to say it?)


DRAGON: What do you two think you’re doing!?!(I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m not a fan of bolding dialogue that you want to be stressed. Bolding can get lost. Underline it, instead. It is much more difficult to lose an underlined word than it is a bolded word.)


Panel 2

Dragon is bent over at the waist at angrily scolding Angel. She is looking up at him, attempting in vain to interrupt with her side of the story. Dragon won’t allow it.


DRAGON: You should know better, Angel!


ANGEL: But I was just–


DRAGON: Wait until your Mom finds out!


ANGEL: It wasn’t–


DRAGON: I’m so disappointed!


Panel 3

Small panel on Dragon. He has his head tilted back slightly, his eyes closed, and his

hand cupped to his forehead. He is calming himself down, as he contemplates his next

move. (I don’t read the comic, so I don’t know if the Dragon does this. I could use a little help here. Anyone? Otherwise, I’m going to say that this is unnatural.





Panel 4

Dragon is knelt on one knee to be at eye level with Angel and Mr. Glum. He has

an arm around each of them. He is calm as he begins to relate to them a life lesson

story. (Okay. Time for some thinking. Evan, you’re up. What’s going on with the dialogue in this panel that makes the description not work as well as it could?)


DRAGON: Have you ever seen what a smoker’s lungs look like?


ANGEL and MR. GLUM(in unison): No.


DRAGON: Well I have, and it wasn’t pretty.


DRAGON: I got the call for a robbery in progress at a convenience

store on 12th Street. I was expecting the typical

low-life with a gun


Panel 5

Exterior Chicago. Daylight. This begins a flashback story to Dragon’s days with the

Chicago Police force. Dragon is dressed in his typical police outfit from that time.

Dragon is kicking in the front door to the convenience store. Pedestrians are

scrambling from the scene. (No. You can’t say Exterior Chicago. That means nothing. What you should be doing is narrowing it down to where this is taking place at. That would be helpful. Know what else would be helpful? Camera angles, or at least a more thoughtful consideration of the panel description. Here’s what you have: a pulled out view of of Dragon kicking in a convenience store door, and pedestrians running away from the scene of impending violence. That isn’t dramatic. What’s dramatic is reversing the angle, so that we’re right in front of the kicked in door, seeing the Dragon there in all of his glory, looking like he’s about to kick some ass. You also lose the pedestrians, because they aren’t doing anything, anyway. Learn to think dramatically, Lance.)




CAPTION(green): but what I found wasn’t typical. (He’s speaking. This isn’t an internal monologue, it’s a voiceover. That means you’re missing quotation marks.)


Page 3 (Page break.)


Panel 1

Larger Panel. Interior of the convenience store. We are looking over the shoulder of

Dragon; he is in the foreground of the panel. In the background facing the reader is

our villain, Black Lung. Note: I’m calling him Black Lung for the sake of ease for

this script. He is just another nameless freak to Dragon and his name will not be

revealed in the course of the actual story.


He is skin over bones thin(but strong as we’ll see). His skin is the color of the tar that

accumulates in the filter of a smoked cigarette. He has long yellow cracked finger

nails. His teeth are rotted, yellow and black. His eyes are white and cloudy like those

riddled with cataracts. He has very sparse long grey hair. He is about a head taller

than Dragon. (See this? Unnecessary. Work it out with your artist in a different document, or in e-mails. It doesn’t belong here.)


He is behind the checkout counter of the store. He has a mouth full(10

to 15) of burning cigarettes. With one hand he has the store clerks head pinned to the

store counter. It should be obvious that the clerk is dead, but don’t make it too gory.

With the other hand, he is reaching blindly and greedily behind himself at a typical

cigarette display rack. Opened and unopened packs of cigarettes are strewn

everywhere. Also, dead customers lie throughout the store. (This isn’t working for me. Blindly and greedily? Nope. Not working for me. And what happened to people’s facial expressions? And if he has that many lit cigarettes in his mouth, where’s the cloud of smoke that should be like a pall (mall) over the store?)


DRAGON(yelling): Police Officer!


DRAGON: Put your hands behind your head! (Again, I don’t read the book. However, I don’t think think that Larsen is that lax that he won’t research. I don’t think a cop would say this. Hands up, yes. Hand on your head, maybe, but behind your head? Not getting that.)


Panel 2

Close-up on Black Lung’s rotted face. The cigarettes are trickling out of his mouth as

he speaks. The reader can now clearly see the pure rot that is his face. Smoke seeps

from his mouth and nose.


BLACK LUNG: Leave me to my task, and I will not put your hands through your head! (Oh, this is cringeworthy. This is bad, Lance. There are so many different ways that something could have been said, but instead, you opted for cliché and terrible phrasing. When you look back at this script in a few years, you’re going to be ashamed of this line.)


Panel 3

Black Lung has turned his back to Dragon and has scooped up a large amount of

cigarette cartons and packs into his arms. He is unafraid of Dragon and completely

focused on the gathering activities. (Yannick, you’re up. Why is this not working?)


Panel 4

Dragon is standing at the counter now. He reaches over and lightly taps Black Lung

on the shoulder with his index finger. Black Lung still has his precious cigarettes

cradled in his arms. (Lisa, what’s wrong here?)


DRAGON: Looks like we do this the hard way then. (Comma-fail.)


Page 4 (Page break.)


Panel 1

Black Lung is back-handing Dragon with a thunderous punch. He is still cradling

cigarettes in his free hand. Dragon is breaking through the panel as he flies backwards

towards the reader. (Ooh. Breaking borders! Rich, why is this a bad place for this to happen? Where do you think the artist would break the border if it had to stay here?)




Panel 2

Dragon is on his ass and supporting himself with one hand. With the other he is

rubbing his jaw. He squints with one eye open, a grimace of pain. (I love superhero physics. It will make liars out of everything. First, you didn’t say where he got hit. Suddenly, it’s his jaw. Next, you have him flying through the air. If he’s still in the store, one of two things has just occurred: it was either a really short arc, or the store just grew to accommodate the fact that Dragon landed inside and didn’t knock anything over. Which is it?)





Panel 3

Dragon is leaping forward. (Large jump in Border Time right here. He’s on his but, and without gathering himself or anything, he’s suddenly leaping in the air? No.)


DRAGON: Let’s try this again.

Panel 4

Exterior. Streets of Chicago. Dragon and Black Lung are flying through the back wall

of the store and out into the street. Debris and cigarettes are flying everywhere. (Yannick, I want you to make a correlation between superhero sales and property destruction, and how each affect the sexual centers of readers WITHOUT referencing Freud or Jung. No, not really. I was just waiting for the property destruction to happen.)





Page 5 (Page break.)


Panel 1

Black Lung is holding a metal street mail box over his head. Smoke is coming from

his nose and mouth. (Where was this mailbox before? It’s magically delicioius.)


BLACK LUNG: I feed on carbon monoxide the same as you would

eat a cheeseburger. (Apropos of nothing. No one has asked a question. What is he answering? It sounds like you needed to say something here, and chose the most blatant way to say it. I’m sorry, but this is terrible.)


BLACK LUNG: The hunger pains gnaw at me constantly, driving

me to satisfy my appetite. (As is this. It’s like you want to have a marathon of bad dialogue. Let’s see how long you can keep it up!)


Panel 2

With a crushing downward blow, Black Lung cracks Dragon over the skull with the



BLACK LUNG: You will never realize how humiliating it is to

spend your days sucking on automobile exhaust

pipes to nourish yourself.


Panel 3

Black Lung breaks Dragon’s left arm over his knee like a twig. For the duration of the

flashback sequence, Dragon should be favoring his left arm. (How? How does he manage to do this?)






BLACK LUNG: Allow me my dignity.


Panel 4

Black Lung is holding Dragon by the neck. His feet are dangling off of the ground.

Dragon’s clothes are ripped; his body is beaten and scratched.


CAPTION(green): It was a viscous beating, and I started to doubt– (See how you put the quotation marks back in? Good show!)


CAPTION(pink): What about the lungs?


CAPTION(green): I’m getting to that part.


Panel 5

Black Lung is holding Dragon’s face right to his. Smoke is flowing out of his mouth

and around Dragon’s face as he speaks. (Facial expressions?)


CAPTION(green): I started to doubt that I’d survive, but then I came to an obvious realization.


BLACK LUNG: If you do not allow me to have what I require, I will inhale it from a pyre of your corpse. (I’d change a to the. It would sound better.)



BLACK LUNG: cough.


Page 6 (Page break.)


Panel 1

Black Lung has dropped Dragon to his feet. Black Lung is doubled over, coughing

and hacking. (What’s the Dragon doing? Just standing around twittling his thumbs? Where is the coughing?)


CAPTION(green): This wasn’t a battle of strength–


CAPTION(green): –it was a battle of stamina.


Panel 2

Larger Panel. Dragon is poised to battle. Black Lung has somewhat recovered and is

also ready to continue the fight. (Wait. Does this make sense to anyone else? You have someone who’s—pardon the expression—coughing up a lung, and you have the Dragon ready to fight again? It doesn’t make sense to me. And telling me that he’s poised for battle or that the villain has recovered somewhat doesn’t do anything to tell me what they’re both doing in this panel.)


DRAGON: You killed innocent people in the

convenience store. I can’t risk you’re hunger driving you to do something more heinous next time. (Methinks your dialogue is purposely horrendous in this flashback. I’m hoping so, at least. Besides that, you’re is a contraction of you are. That’s not what you want. You want the possessive of you, which is your. )



DRAGON: You could burn down an apartment full of

families just to inhale the smoldering ashes. (Of course he could! That makes no sense. The real question is simple: would he? This line doesn’t help anything at all. It doesn’t make the case for or against the villain, but it gives the illusion of pushing the story along. It doesn’t. It needs to be cut. Hell, I could cut my right hand off in order to make sure I do everything with my left hand, but it doesn’t mean that I would do it. See how one does not lead into the other?)


BLACK LUNG: You are of no consequence to me.


BLACK LUNG: cough! cough!






Panel 3

Full Body Panel of Dragon and Black Lung. Black Lung gives Dragon a downward

fist to the chest. The sound effects should get smaller in panels 3-5 as Black Lung

gets progressively weaker. (A downward fist? I have no idea what that means. I suggest you go and read the B&N about superheroes and fighting. And what is the Dragon doing?)




BLACK LUNG: cough .I will cough


Panel 4

Black Lung takes another punch at Dragon’s chest. He is slumping over now as he

nears exhaustion.(And again, the Dragon just stands there, thumb up his own ass, taking it. This is not good, Lance. Not good at all.)




BLACK LUNG: Hack .going to .cough!


Panel 5

Black Lung is completely exhausted now. He is slumped over, but keeping himself on

his feet by resting an arm on Dragon’s shoulder. He takes one last weak swing at

Dragon’s chest. (And again, the Dragon is just standing around…)




BLACK LUNG(trailing off): wheeze to kill you ..COUGH!


DRAGON: Do you need a second to catch your



Page 7 (Page break.)


Panel 1

2/3 of the page panel. Dragon is nailing Black Lung with a devastating upper-cut to

his body. It is so devastating that Dragons arm has actually punched through Black

Lung’s chest and out his back. Black tar like blood splatters through the air along

with a puff of smoke. Smoke is blasting out of Black Lung’s mouth. (Okay, like I said, I don’t read the book. However, I might have seen something gory like this before. But here’s what I want to know: how heroic is it to take advantage of someone who clearly cannot beat you. As a matter of fact, he’s already beaten. This is just gratuitous in the worst way.)


Panel 2

The next 3 panels are moment in time sequence panels. They should run in one

row of the page 3 panels wide. Dragon’s position should be the same in all 3.

Dragon is standing sideways, facing towards the right of the panel. His arm is now

out of Black Lung’s chest. In his black tar covered hand are two, tiny shriveled up

black lungs, which dragon is looking at. Smoke is coming off of them. Black Lung is

on the right side of the panel. He is clutching the hole in his chest with his left arm.

Black tar and blood escape from around his fingers. He is in pain.


Panel 3

The same as panel 2, except Black Lung has begun to slump off panel, and the

lungs are no longer smoking.




Panel 4

The same as panel 2 and 3, except Black Lung is off panel and Dragon is flipping the

lungs, which have left his hand, over his shoulder.


CAPTION(green): So, that’s it– (If this is what the Savage Dragon is like as a character, I’m very glad I don’t read the book. This is no hero.)


Page 8 (Page break.)


Panel 1

This panel should be very similar to page 2 Panel 4 as we transition back to present

day. Dragon is knelt down between Angel and Mr. Glum.


DRAGON: –that’s the story.


DRAGON: What do you think about smoking now?


Panel 2

Smaller panel. Close-up on Angel. She has a look of disgust on her face. Her tongue

is sticking out.


ANGEL: Gross!


Panel 3

Smaller panel. Close-up on Mr.Glum. He has his normal glum expression.


MR. GLUM: Vile!


Panel 4

Panel on Angel, Dragon, and Mr. Glum. Dragon ties up his sermon. (This doesn’t tell me what’s going on in the panel.)


DRAGON: Smoking is one of the stupidest, most dangerous things

you can do to yourself.


DRAGON: Now, promise me you’ll never smoke.


ANGEL: Never. Promise.


MR. GLUM: Agreed.



Panel 5

Close-up of Dragon. He’s happy that his story had its desired effect. (That’s nice, but what is he doing?)


DRAGON: Great!


DRAGON: Now let’s go get some ice cream.


Panel 6

Angel, Dragon, and Mr. Glum(left to right) walk off up the street into a setting

evening sun. Their backs are to the reader, and their long shadows trickle off panel.

Dragon can’t rest on his laurels.


DRAGON: Did I ever tell you about the time I saw an

alcoholic’s liver?




And here we are! Let’s run it down.


Format: The only complaint is the lack of page breaks. You could have had a flawless victory! Ah, there’s always next time.


Panel Descriptions: I’m going to call these a failure. Luckily, there were no moving panels. Why a failure? Because in half of these, you didn’t describe what was going on in the panels. You gave an intimation, a hint, but not what the characters were actually doing. You had the Dragon standing around for over half of it.


Characters cannot be standing around. These are called panel descriptions for a reason. If they’re standing around, then they aren’t necessary.


I wrote a script and submitted it to Marvel. This was not too long after I had started out. Of course, it was rejected. I did some pretty interesting things with Iceman, but I also knew they were dangerous. I had Angel, Nightcrawler, and Emma around, and Kurt had the least lines. It looked like he was just standing around for no reason, until I had him do something. If I hadn’t had him doing something, he would have needed to be cut.


And that’s what I’m saying here. Because you don’t have the Dragon doing anything, he’d need to be cut, which is a shame, because he’s the one telling the story, as well as being the star of it, as well as being in the story he’s telling. If you had described what he was doing, I wouldn’t be having this talk. All characters have to do something. You have to actually describe actions, not give the impression that you’re writing a panel description. To quote a great warrior, Do, or do not. There is no try.


Pacing: Not too bad. You have that jump in Border Time, but it wasn’t too bad. Could you have done this in fewer pages? I think so. Five or six. There isn’t one thing I could turn to and call it padding, but I think there could be a little tightening up here. Like I said, not too bad.


Dialogue: I think the dialogue in the flashback is supposed to be bad. If that’s the case, you did your job too well. There was no relief, no break, no wink to the audience that the dialogue is supposed to be terrible.


When I was reading The Standard by John Lees that very first time, I was struck by the dichotomy of the writing. Things that were in the present were fine, but things that were set in the past (Golden Age) were terribly clunky and aged. When I finally got it, it was brilliant. There was the nod to the audience that the dialogue was supposed to be bad, though. The setting in the past was that nod. There was nothing here, so I can’t tell if this was done on purpose or not.


I can say this, though: the flashback had the worst dialogue, which is a shame, because it is the flashback that is where the thrust of your story is. Not good. It’s almost as bad as burying your lead.


Content: This story had a purpose: to mimic the after school specials we all remember as kids. Alcoholism, bullying, going with strangers, and more. We remember them, maybe not fondly, but we remember. This was supposed to be a nod to that.


It failed.


As a reader, there wasn’t a point. There was no this is what smoking does to you. Lose your stamina? That’s it? That’s not enough. Cancer would have been enough. You’re not getting that from his appearance, though, because he’s a villain. He’s supposed to look villainous. There was no before and after. Right now, what I can infer from this story is that if I smoke, I can get super-strong. I may run out of steam faster, but I’d be strong enough to knock the Dragon on his keister, which is pretty strong. That’s the message I took away, besides the fact that smoking will make my lungs turn black.


There are so many ways this could have been rectified. Instead, as a story meant to influence people’s actions, it fails.


Editorially, the idea is sound, but the execution is severely lacking. I’d have you completely rewrite this (after reading a few issues of the Dragon) to make the Dragon more of a hero, and to make sure it shows smoking in a more vile light. Right now, it doesn’t do either of these things.


And that’s all I have! Check the calendar to see who’s next.

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Category: 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.

Comments (15)

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  1. Lance Boone says:

    Note: I cold submitted this to the editor of the Twisted Dragon Funnies that were running in Savage Dragon. They were non-canon stories using Savage Dragon characters. My intent with this story was a good versus evil story, and the flashback was a peek back to the ultra-violent Image days of old.

    Format: I’ll take it. 🙂

    Panel Descriptions: Yeah. There’s a bit of work to do here. I actually got worse in this area since my first script. That being said, having you point out the areas of concern, I think this is pretty easily fixed.

    Pacing: After the beating I took over my last script in the Grounds, I’ll take that as near success.

    Dialog: The dialog was an attempt at being preachy as Dragon told the story in his words. I was trying to play the flashback against Image’s perception in the 90’s of bloody violence and little substance. It looks like it didn’t work that way.

    Content: Yeah. I need to at least mention cancer in the story.

    I think Dragon would act like this. He has no issue with dispatching criminals/freaks he feels are a threat to the greater populace. Black Lung killed the clerk to get his “fix” and demonstrated no remorse after Dragon tried to apprehend him, so it’s game on at that point. I believe Yannick reads Savage Dragon, so I’d be interested to know if this feels like something Dragon would do.

    Smoking doesn’t make him strong; he’s a freak in Chicago, so he just is strong. He needs carbon monoxide to survive, but he has chosen to handle his curse in a way that doesn’t jive with Dragon’s “code”.

    (And again, the Dragon just stands there, thumb up his own ass, taking it. This is not good, Lance. Not good at all.) I guess my explanation in the script was lacking here, or it just didn’t work. My attempt was to show that smoking was ruining this guy. It was ruining his stamina. Dragon just standing there as Black Lung weakly hit him was an attempt at showing this. The blows were weak, so Dragon could care less that they were landing. Dragon’s strategy was to wear Black Lung down, and this was the strategy paying off in what I thought was a humorous way.

    Thanks again for taking the time to read my script, Steven. I’ll take your advice and attempt to incorporate it into my future work. I need to get better at paying attention to all areas of the script and pulling the complete package together. I seem to concentrate on one area (i.e. pacing) at the expense of others. I need to get a good procedure for proofreading my scripts.

    Until next time…

    • I get why you did many of the things you did, but you still have the Dragon standing around doing nothing a lot.

      Now, like I’ve said before and I’ll say it again: scripting is HARD. This is not easy. Lots of moving parts.

      If you need to, concentrate on one part, get good at it, and then incorporate another part. One a a time, until you get the hang of it. Trust me, there’s nothing but time.

    • Yannick Morin says:

      “I believe Yannick reads Savage Dragon, so I’d be interested to know if this feels like something Dragon would do.”

      Sorry, Lance! I was a Spawn reader back then…

      …Don’t judge me, man! It was the 90s! We were all into crazy s**t like that!

  2. Page 1 Panel 4
    Panel on Angel and Mr. Glum. Angel is quickly swiping the pack of cigarettes out of
    Mr. Glum’s hand.

    Missing elements: Camera angles, size of shot. You’re describing an action but not where everyone is in the panel. Is it to be the same shot as P3? With your ‘Panel On’ I think you’re trying to describe the focal point but you need to be more clear. Is Angel center, their hands, Mr Glum? What angle is the shot coming from?

    Medium Close up shot of Angel and Mr Glum’s hands. Angle (left of panel) has fist clenched around cigarette package just above Mr G’s (right of panel) outstretched hand. Dialogue For Angel hangs on left.

    You could add distinguishing features if you like and if they’re important to identify one or the other. It’s also a bit of an awkward panel itself (even my interpretation of it). What exactly are you trying to show here? Can it not be combined with panel 5? Or did you specifically want P5 to be silent. Either way it feels awkward. Maybe someone else has a better idea of how it could work out.

    Page 3 Panel 4
    Dragon is standing at the counter now. He reaches over and lightly taps Black Lung
    on the shoulder with his index finger. Black Lung still has his precious cigarettes
    cradled in his arms. (Lisa, what’s wrong here?)

    DRAGON: Looks like we do this the hard way then. (Comma-fail.)

    From where are we seeing this? Are we behind the counter looking at Black Lung with Dragon reaching over? Is it a bird’s eye shot? You’ve gone to the trouble of indicating what finger, but not where we’re looking and what expressions are we seeing? What position is BL in? Crouched? Kneeling? Standing? FLAILING MADLY! It could be anything. And for Dragon, what’s his position? Is he leaning over? Or is his arm freakishly long enough to reach far without bending. Then there’s the clerk: where is the body? Is the head still ‘pinned to the counter’? You need to remember what you already have established in the scene. If you’ve got a body somewhere you need your characters to be, move them in some way. In a previous panel you can show the body slumped or make a note in this one as to where it is but you can’t say nothing. The artist might miss it, not draw the body and suddenly you have vanishing bodies.

    And maybe because it’s early I’m again missing the point of the panel. What are you trying to show me here that is important to the story? Is it just transitional to lead to the punch on Page 4? It feels like this isn’t enough to provoke BL In Page 4 Panel 1 (but it could be because I don’t know Dragon character). Maybe making this a bigger gesture, more threatening than ‘over the counter/shoulder tap’ would ignite the fight. Personal opinion on that though.

  3. Don Urquhart says:

    I’m quite new to this, but I’ll give it a go.

    On Angel and Mr. Glum now. The flicker of an evening sky behind them. (I have someone new to pick on! Don’t you love it? I know I do. Don!)

    As someone who’s more comfortable on the art side of things, I’d find it difficult to draw a flicker on an evening sky . If Lance were trying to convey an atmospheric mood with the evening sky, maybe commenting on the colour of the clouds or the position of the sun would be more helpful to the artist. If you’re describing the sky at all, shouldn’t that be in the first panel so that the art is consistent?

    Also, it would be helpful to have some idea as to what Angel and Mr. Glum are doing. If Angel was kicking a ball in the first panel, has he/she (sorry, I haven’t read this series) stopped playing with the ball in order to address Mr. Glum?

    While I’m here, I thought I’d chime in one more thing (I might be completely wrong; I’m new to this rodeo).

    Page 6, Panel 2

    DRAGON: You could burn down an apartment full of
    families just to inhale the smoldering ashes.

    This bit of dialogue could be neat, if you moved it to an earlier part of the fight, and gave it Black Lung to be rephrased as something he’ll do in the future. This would justify Dragon killing him.

    • See? It didn’t hurt at all, did it, Don?

      And you’re absolutely right. What he asked for cannot be drawn, and he didn’t put in enough info to get a good idea of what’s going on in the panel.

      And I like the idea of justifying the killing with a movement/rephrasing of the dialogue. I think that would help this out a lot.

      Don’s all over it!

  4. Evan Windsor says:

    Panel 4

    Dragon is knelt on one knee to be at eye level with Angel and Mr. Glum. He has an arm around each of them. He is calm as he begins to relate to them a life lesson story. (Okay. Time for some thinking. Evan, you’re up. What’s going on with the dialogue in this panel that makes the description not work as well as it could?)

    Okay, I see two things, and I’m not sure if either is what Steve was referring to, but here I go:

    1) The unison bubble is undrawable. Rule one of lettering is this: Never cross your tails. It’s like ghostbusters.

    Savage Dragon is between your two characters, and speaks first. This means that the baloon is going to be highest on the page. The tail for the word balloon is going to stretch down the page toward his mouth, right down the middle of the panel. (Yes, actually it connects to other dialogue, then a tail to the mouth, but that doesn’t change the problem.)

    Next you have a unison bubble between Angel and Glum who are on either side of Dragon. A unison bubble is one bubble with two tails, pointing at two characters. So one tail goes to Angel, one to Glum. Easy, right?

    Well the problem is, since you have a tail going straight down the middle of the page, there’s nowhere you can place this bubble that won’t have a tail cross another tail. (Yes, technically you could have a tail that circles around below Dragon and back up to the mouth, or that loops all the way around above the other dialogue. But tails should be pretty direct, for clarity’s sake. Possible, but just as bad as, if not worse than, crossing tails.)

    So how do you solve that? Since Dragon is sort of behind these characters, you could do a side view. Then, on the page, Dragon would be on the left, the characters would be on the right, and BAM – no crossed tails. It works, but its a less interesting angle, you cant see faces, and either Angel or Glum would be mostly obscured. So not the best.

    Alternately, you could just have Angel and Glum both say “No”, but not in unison.

    2) Have your panel describe what’s going on as the last line of dialogue is spoken.

    I might have missed this, but this very week I’ve been re-reading old B&N columns, and just read #12, so it’s fresh in my mind. I’ll let past Steve explain –

    So in the first few lines of dialogue he’s settling in for an after school special talk, but in the last line, he’s recalling past events, so this is what you should show. The general set up (arms around the other characters) is fine, but make sure you show on his face that he’s recalling past events. This can easily be done by having him look up and to the right:

    • See? I knew Evan would come through. Just knew it.

      What Evan is saying is exactly right, but not because you can’t cross the streams. You can, and there are ways to do it, but it isn’t necessary here. Either break up the No’s into two separate balloons, or have them say two things that are both negative. Breaking up that balloon is important, because you’re forcing an awkward placement of the balloons in the art.

      Remember, folks: word balloons and captions are all part of the panel descriptions. You have to account for that space when you’re writing. If you don’t, you get things like this, which will force the letterer to do things they wouldn’t have to if you thought it through a little more. (This is also part of the reason why everyone needs an editor.)

      Good job, Evan! Good job!

  5. Liam Hayes says:

    “A now agitated Dragon, unaware of the true nature of the situation, is standing between Angel and Mr. Glum. With one hand, he is now snatching the pack of cigarettes out of Angel’s hand, just as Angel had done to Mr. Glum. With the other hand, he is pulling the unlit cigarette out of Mr. Glum’s mouth. (Liam, what am I going to say here, and why am I going to say it?)”

    Firstly, there’s a lot of needless information here. What you’re doing is telling the artist the story, and while this isn’t necessarily wrong, it does risk bogging down the panel description and hassling the artist.

    The script is a technical document, unloved but necessary. Being concise and to the point will make getting to the shiny, shiny art quicker and easier. Here’s an example;

    “Dragon is now stood between Angel and Mr. Glum with an agitated expression, snatching both the unlit cigarette and packet of cigarettes.”

    Secondly, the panel itself has too many moving parts. I recommend three panels for this. Two small panels zoomed on Dragon’s hands snatching the packet and unlit cigarette, then pull out to reveal him stood between Angel and Mr Glum, looking annoyed and holding both. To me that has more of a punch.


    • What Liam is trying to say, Lance, is that this panel, as you have it, is undrawable. If you have Dragon in the middle, and the two are to either side of him, where is he looking in order to do this simultaneous action? He can’t do both well without it looking overly cartoony.

      Liam’s suggestion of three panels is a an awesome workaround, though. It does the story justice while also getting the intent across.

      Nice work, Liam.

  6. Yannick Morin says:

    Sorry for the lateness! Crazy times at work and crazy times preparing for the Holidays as well!

    “Panel 3

    Black Lung has turned his back to Dragon and has scooped up a large amount of cigarette cartons and packs into his arms. He is unafraid of Dragon and completely focused on the gathering activities. (Yannick, you’re up. Why is this not working?)”

    No camera angle? Check.

    No camera distance? Check.

    But at least we got an expression for half the present characters.

    Those are the basics. However, the most grievous offense here is that you’re placing the characters in relation to each other but not in relation to the reader. Here you’re telling us that Black Lung has turned his back to Dragon, but has he turned his back to us as well? We can somewhat assume that since we see him scooping up packs of cigarettes, he’s facing us. We can also assume that we see Dragon in the background, probably over his shoulder, facing us as well. However, we shouldn’t have to assume anything. It should be all clear as day here in the script.

    I’m repeating myself like a grumpy old man – that I am not – but I think it bears repeating: the function of a script is not to tell a story. It’s a set of instructions for helping the artist tell a story. Your script should contain all the necessary info for him to draw the content of each panel. The key to accomplishing this is thinking visually.

    Some people have it naturally and others learn it. But it’s a skill that can be learned.

    Here’s a nice exercise for you to try out. Pick up a comic and open it on a random page. Look at a panel and describe it. At first, it might sound like: “The Rhino sends Spider-Man crashing through a display window.” This is what you see as a READER. Now look at it again from a CREATOR’s viewpoint: “Medium shot of Spider-Man flying backwards towards us through a display window, head first and limbs limp. Broken glass and toys are propelled outward everywhere. In the background, standing in the middle of the street, the Rhino has just finished his throwing motion, hands still open towards us, an angry scowl on his face.” Ask yourself: “Could an artist draw what I just described without seeing this picture?” Repeat until you can answer with a resounding YES to that question.

    That’s the trick to writing scripts: describe the still images you see in your head instead of narrating the movie you’re imagining.

    OK back to the script at hand. Here’s my suggestion for fixing this panel:

    “Panel 3

    Medium shot of BLACK LUNG facing us. He’s scooping up cigarette packs and cartons into his arms, concentrating fully on his task with a furrowed brow. In the background, we can see an angry DRAGON marching towards him with his fists at the ready.”

    Although that still doesn’t fix the fact that this panel seems pretty empty and purposeless without any copy. Now’s maybe the time to insert that line about burning down an apartment building to inhales the smoke.

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