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Thread: Week 1: Harry Durnan

  1. StevenForbes Guest

    Week 1: Harry Durnan

    And here it is, folks. The inaugural column of The Proving Grounds. Harry Durnan, our own harryd, was first to send in a script, and as such, he's first to feel the lash...um, I mean, the first to be edited by yours truly! Let's give him a big round of applause!

    Harry listened, followed the few rules I set down, and thusly, is here to pit his script against my editing might! Let's see how he fares!

    “A Knight's Dream”
    By: Harry Durnan


    Page One (three panels) (Good. Tell me, Harry, do you write the panel descriptions on the page first, and then go back and put in the number of panels, or do you put in the number of panels and go back and correct it if necessary? Personally, I write the panel descriptions first, and usually forget to put the number of panels up here.)

    Panel 1. A large and dimly lit audience chamber. An elderly man in dark robes, Xebec, kneels in strained humility before a raised stone platform. Seated on the platform above him, looking down in judgment, are four robed humanoid beings. Each is made up from a different element: a man made of fire with an angry expression, The Icon of Fire; a man made up of rocks with a stern expression, The Icon of Earth; a woman made of water with a wry grin, The Icon of Water; and a woman made up of air with a bored expression, The Icon of Air. (Good descriptions, the only thing I'm going to take you to task on is the Icon of Air. If air is translucent [a hoity-toity word for invisible], how are we going to see anything? Hopefully, these character designs will be worked out with your artist beforehand. And to be completely correct, you should have separated them with semicolons. The reader's won't see the script, so it's mostly fine.)

    1 CAP:
    The Wizard's High Council. Once men and women, transformed long ago through powerful magics into something more.

    2 CAP:
    And despite my status as an Archmage, here I grovel. One of their best begging for secrets like a novice.

    Panel 2. A view of the council with focus on the Icon of Earth & Icon of Air. (No. If your establishing shot is to be taken literally, then they're seated as such: Fire, Earth, Water, Air. You cannot have a panel focusing on these two without showing Water in the middle. Make up your mind, or your artist is going to make it up for you.)

    3 THE ICON OF EARTH:
    The council has considered your request Archmage Xebec—

    4 THE ICON OF AIR:
    --and it is the decision of this council that your request be denied.

    Panel 3. A close up of Xebec, his veneer of humility slipping into anger. (Is his head still bowed, or is it up? If it's bowed, that might be a little difficult to show. How long is his hair? Is it framing his face? Is this a side view of the beginnings of a sneer? What? The clearer it is in your head, the clearer it will be for the artist, otherwise, they'll just make their own decisions.)

    5 THE ICON OF WATER (OP):
    The magics that you have requested are forbidden for a reason. CAP: How dare they condemn me so?

    6CAP:
    How dare they condemn me so? THE ICON OF WATER (OP): The magics that you have requested are forbidden for a reason.(See what I did here? I rearranged the words. They're decent enough, but were in the wrong place. You want the Icon to speak first, and then have him talk about being condemned. The numbers you have here are for the letterer, so they know who speaks first. It will tell them where to place the bubbles or captions in reading order. This order is better than your original order, because it makes more sense.)





    Page Two (Four Panels) (tsk tsk. Page breaks, not carriage returns or tabs to get there, Harry. Whenever you start a new page of script, put in a page break.)
    Panel 1. A view of the council with focus on the Icon of Water. (I imagine them sitting in a row, or maybe a semi-circle. How are you going to focus on just one without moving the camera too much? It may be better to say that this is a view of the council, and the Icon of Water is speaking. That should let the artist know to open that Icon's mouth. If there's anything I hate, I hate seeing balloons coming out of closed mouths.)

    1 THE ICON OF WATER:
    While you may be a brilliant wizard, we feel this is not justification enough to grant you access to them. We feel you are not ready--

    Panel 2. Xebec has risen to his feet in anger before the council. (I understand, but I think this panel is weak. And you have a small problem. Space and speaking. You're intimating that you want both Xebec and the council in this panel. Small intimation, but it's there. However, he's been kneeling before a raised platform. Now, if he's your focus, and he speaks, you're forcing the letterer to put a long tail on the Icon in order to get under Xebec's. It would be better to focus on Xebec, probably from the pov of the council, and then you don't have to worry so much about the space and speaking. Right now, I'm seeing it as either a side view or a ¾ view of both Xebec and the council, with the main focus on Xebec. If you change the pov and pull back some in order to show a little of the council, you'll have a bigger impact with the panel. Either that, or have a close-up of Xebec, and cut the council out of it totally, putting the speaking Icon off panel.)

    2 XEBEC (BURST):
    Not ready?!
    3 ICON OF FIRE:
    Do not forget to whom you are speaking! (Good placement here. You're just off on your panel layout.)

    Panel 3. A door opens in the back of the chamber, light shines brightly outside, but does little to lighten the interior of the chamber. Xebec has managed to resume his look of humility and bows to the council. (This is a weak panel. What does the open door signify? I don't think it's important here. Convince me otherwise.)

    4 XEBEC:
    Of course Forgive me, my lord. Thank you for hearing my plea. (This change is better. It shows contrition, even if it's fake. I also think it would work better if this were broken into two bubbles.)
    5 CAP:
    Truly, I expected as much from these arrogant fools.

    Panel 4. Xebec stalks into a bright stone hallway, anger clearly shown on his face. Other men and women in robes are walking along the hall. The crowd is mostly young adults or college aged, students learning magic. A younger man and woman talk while a middle aged man looks at them sternly from across the hall, a few are immersed in studying tomes, and some are just passing through. In the background crowd Pell strides down the hall with Azziz following him weighed down by a stack of papers. (Besides Xebec walking, what does any of this have to do with anything?)

    6 CAP:
    This will not end here. What has been done once can be done again. These fools will only have themselves to blame for what is to come--
    7 CAP:
    --for what I must do.
    Page Three (three panel)(again, you need a page break inserted here. I know how it looks in the column. Trust me, insert a page break here.)

    Panel 1. A young man, Pax, with dusty patches of brown dirt on his clothes leans against a wooden fence staring wistfully at something off panel. There is a wooden bucket resting in the dirt near his feet. (Where are we? You changed the location, but didn't establish the scene. Day or night? What's the weather like? And why is this person important enough to warrant a panel?)

    1 PAX (small):
    Sigh.

    Panel 2. A view of a castle courtyard, stone walls are decorated with green banners bearing a stylized brown deer. In the back of the courtyard Pax is leaning against the fence which surrounds the stables. Also in the background an older man, Marcus, draws water from a well. An elderly servant grooms a horse back within the stables. Pax is watching a young well-dressed man, Jonathan, dueling against a gray haired man. They are practicing using swords made from wood strapped together with leather and defending themselves with iron shields. A crowd of well-dressed nobility stands to one side of the duel. In the middle of the crowd is a thin man who is clearly more important than the rest, Lord Hadley. The others give him room, but are watching him if not the duel. (This is a little much for this panel. This feels cramped. A fence within a courtyard, stables, and practicing? Look up the word “courtyard” and tell me what you find. Unless this is a very small castle, this is way too much for this panel.)

    2 CAP:
    Castle Ottenbach in the lands of Hadley. A small, but prosperous kingdom. One amongst a sea of equally small human kingdoms that dot the eastern end of the continent. (you've now switched voices from Xebec to a Narrator. I'm not comfortable with it. Let the letterer know, if nothing else, that this should be colored differently. If it's b/w, this needs to be in a different font. Personally, I'd rather you had only one voice in the caption. Think about keeping the Narrator, if it's important, and changing Xebec's captions to the evil though balloon.)

    3 MAN IN CROWD ONE:
    Get him ,Sir Jonathan!

    4 MAN IN CROWD TWO:
    Well struck, Sir Jonathan! (Don't forget your comma's. Make my job easier.)


    Panel 3. Another view of the courtyard. Jonathan takes a mighty swing at his instructor as the crowds applaud. Pax watches in the background as Marcus walks over towards the stables. (No. You're cramping yourself again. This panel won't work the way you want it. This will be impossible to draw. I want you to thumbnail this and show it to me. I'm not interested in your lack of drawing skill. I want to see how you think this should be laid out.)

    5 PAX (thought):
    Bah, I could do that better than him. He's going to get his head cracked open at the tournament. If only I could enter...












    Page Four (five panels) (page break)

    Panel 1. Marcus has come up behind Pax and smacks him upside the back of the head. The elderly servant grooming a horse in the background laughs at the sight. (If the groom is laughing, he needs to have said something. A small “heh” would work wonders. Or a smirk, if you don't want him to have a speaking part.)

    1 MARCUS:
    Pax! Quit your daydreaming, Son, and help your old man water the horses. (Comma, capitalization.)

    Panel 2. Pax rubs the back of his head with one hand while picking up the bucket that had been near his feet.

    2 PAX:
    Coming Dad. (No need for him to name his father. It's already been done when he called him “son”. This makes “dad” redundant.)

    3 ELDERLY SERVANT:
    Good one, Marcus! (Where did the servant come from? Are we talking about the groom? No matter who this person is, they need to be put in the panel description. However, this dialogue is a waste of space. What does it do to push the story forward?)

    Panel 3. The elder swordsman bows to Jonathan, their practice having ended. (This is a mini-change of scene. I'm not happy with it. You're all over the place, Harry. This needs to be tighter. Finish one scene before skipping to the next. Either follow Pax, or follow the practice session. Don't split the difference.)

    4 ELDER SWORDSMAN:
    Well done! Your training is coming along well nicely. I'm sure you'll fare well at the tournament. (Try not to double words close together like that. As a writer, you have a thesaurus. Use it.)

    Panel 4. Jonathan wipes sweat from his brow and looks over at Lord Hadley. (Don't forget your period at the end of sentences. What's worse, though, is that this is a moving panel. Pick a single action and stick to it.)

    5 JONATHAN:
    Of course I will. Isn't that right, Father? (Comma, capitalization.)

    Panel 5. Lord Hadley stands among the crowd waving off the question. The crowd agrees vigorously, trying to curry favor.

    6 LORD HADLEY:
    Yes. I'm sure you'll represent the Hadley line admirably.

    7 MAN IN CROWD ONE:
    Absolutely, Lord Hadley!

    8 MAN IN CROWD TWO:
    Of course, Lord Hadley! (I'm not overjoyed with either of these lines. Very false and hollow.)









    Page Five (five panels) (page break)

    Panel 1. Pax and Marcus draw water from the well. Pax glares over towards Jonathan while he works. (again, you've split the difference. Yes, it was on a different page, but this needs to be rearranged a little. In order to keep this relevant, try this: have Pax and Marcus walk past the practice, keeping them in view as the others speak. This keeps you on course, without having to do too much rearranging. You're already going to be laying out this location differently. Why make more work for yourself?)

    1 MARCUS:
    Keep sulking like that and you won't even get to see the tournament...

    Panel 2. Pax looks up at Marcus in surprise.

    2 PAX:
    You mean...?

    3 MARCUS:
    That's right! Lord Hadley is going to need a couple servants to go with him--

    Panel 3. Marcus proudly points his thumb at his chest as he and Pax start back toward the stables.

    4 MARCUS:
    --and your old man managed to get the job. If you behave for the next couple of days, you can come along. (Commas. You seem to like run-on sentences.)

    Panel 4. Pax cheers and slightly spills the water he's carrying as he runs slightly ahead of Marcus back towards the stables. (Have you ever carried a bucket of water? The wooden bucket itself weighs about five pounds, because it has to be sturdy. Add a few gallons of water to it, and have it be unweildy, and he's not going to be running far. And what's he running for, anyway? Excitement? Doesn't make much sense. Have him be grateful, sure, but don't have him run with a bucket of water.)

    5. PAX:
    I can't wait to see all the knights and dueling!

    Panel 5. Pax, still exuberant, runs into the stables with a huge smile on his face.

    6. MARCUS (op):
    Calm down! You're still going to have to help me while we're there!

    And here we are, at the end of the passage I've chosen to edit.

    Let's talk about something I didn't mention in my edits, because I wanted to see if he would be doing it later. He didn't, and because of that, this is a failure.

    By the way, I usually make notes at the end of scripts I've edited, giving my overall thoughts and noticing trends and such. So, no, this isn't weird.

    Quick note on the colors: Red is what I've added, and the gray is what I've deleted. There's no strikethrough here, which is frustrating, so I'm doing it with colors. We'll both get used to it.

    Okay, basically what we have here is a writer who has failed to remember their audience. Except for Johnathan, there is nowhere in these five pages of script that names a character where people will know it. That, Harry, is horrible. You had more than ample opportunity in several places in the script to name the characters in a place where a reader could see it. It actually took another scene change and up to page 8 (!) to actually get someone's name in there. Horrible.

    What I want you all to understand is this: when dealing with a new title, new characters, and new setting, you want to get a character's name used as soon as possible. When you name a character, you make a connection between that character and the reader. The sooner you make that connection, in a non-forced manner, the better off you'll be.

    There are multiple ways to go about it. You could be ham-handed and start slapping captions all over the place with names in them. Do that, though, and I'll call you on it. The best way is through dialogue. It has to sound natural in order to work, though. The more natural it is, the more memorable it will be. Remember, this is our first introduction to the characters. Make it memorable.

    This is easiest done with an introductory character. This character, for all intents and purposes, is us. They're exploring, finding out things at the exact time we are. Their reactions are our reactions. The hero's journey: Rand al'Thor of the Wheel of Time series, or Jim McCarthy of the War Against the Chtorr series [two series I've been re-reading recently]--these characters are letting us learn as they are, and through them, we're able to get a handle on the world.

    To bring it back to comic books, and to use a master of the form, consider Top 10 by Alan Moore. His introductory character is Toybox. Through her, we begin to learn a lot about the universe they inhabit. Alan then passes off the point of view like a baton as we follow people in and out of the narrative. Toybox and another character pass Girl 6 and her partner as they talk, and while we were following Toybox before, we're now following Girl 6 and the conversation she's having. It was done with masterful effect there, and was also used well in some tv shows that don't come to mind right now. I want to say Hill Street Blues or some other cop show, but I'd be showing my age...

    No, I'm not saying you have to use an introductory character here. I'm saying that it might help. Just don't forget to name them where a reader can see it.

    The dialogue is mostly serviceable, but could definitely use a polish. Every line of dialogue has to do one of two things: push the story forward, or reveal character, preferably both. For right now, if it doesn't do one or the other, it's useless and a waste of space. Yes, you have some fat that needs to be trimmed here. The biggest trend with the dialogue I've seen are the run-on sentences. Know when to put a comma. Know when to leave it out. I've seen horrible dialogue, and this isn't it. Wooden, yes, but serviceable.

    Now, remember what I said about dialogue. It's the only thing in the script that is truly dictated by someone's personal taste. It's really the only part of YOU that the reader is going to see. They're not seeing your panel descriptions. They don't know how cleverly you laid something out. They're seeing the artist's interpretation of your script. The only thing that is truly you [or as close as possible] are the words that they read. That's it. The more realistic your dialogue, the better off you are.

    Now, I'm going to guess that you read some of this aloud, and liked it. I'm also going to guess that you read other parts aloud, and weren't happy with the results, but couldn't think of anything better. You knew it was wooden, but couldn't come up with a better alternative. If we were working on this together, I'd lead you across those rough spots into a polished shine, and because you learned it yourself, you'd be less likely to make the same mistake twice. This is why I don't like changing dialogue myself. I'd rather the writer learn a different way than for me to do the work for them.

    You also have a problem knowing what can and cannot be drawn, or just have trouble seeing it in your head. That's fine. That will come over time. I implore you, though, to try to see the panel in your head, or else, to draw it up to see if it works. You don't have to have talent for this. This is for you, to see if it works or not.

    And you know what? I'm pretty good. I just saw the pages that the artist did, and some of them are right on the money about what I said with the views and panel makeups. I laughed out loud when I saw some of the panel layouts, because I called them specifically. That's funny. Here are links to the pages:

    http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l...ry_d/BL0101.jpg

    http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l...ry_d/BL0102.jpg

    http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l...ry_d/BL0103.jpg

    Overall, it wasn't horrible. Definitely needs work, but not horrible. Congratulations [and thank you] for not making me cringe! You're on a good path. Keep it up!


    And that, ladies and gents, is everything I have for this passage. Not too painful, was it?

    I'd like to thank Harry once again for being first.

    Next week will be Dan Potter, our own Pounce!

    See you then!
    ___________________________
    The Proving Grounds lives and dies by your participation. Send your scripts to Stevedforbes@projectfanboy.com. Just read the rules first.



  2. Join Date
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    Nice Job, Harry!

    Nice work, editing there, Sweeney To-- er, Forby. Sorry, all that red on the page got me confused!

    I only disagree with one piece of advice you gave him. And it's a tiny, piece, at that.

    Coming Dad. (No need for him to name his father. It's already been done when he called him “son”. This makes “dad” redundant.)
    I actually disagree (slightly) with both of you.

    I think renaming Dad is fine, as long as he doesn't say "dad", but "Father" instead. It works in this fantasy/medieval setting.

    In fact, he used "Father" later on, and you were fine with it, just fixing his lack of capitalization.

    Oh, and the links to the pages lead to "This image has been moved or deleted" tags.
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  3. StevenForbes Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastianPiccione View Post
    Nice Job, Harry!

    Nice work, editing there, Sweeney To-- er, Forby. Sorry, all that red on the page got me confused!

    I only disagree with one piece of advice you gave him. And it's a tiny, piece, at that.



    I actually disagree (slightly) with both of you.

    I think renaming Dad is fine, as long as he doesn't say "dad", but "Father" instead. It works in this fantasy/medieval setting.

    In fact, he used "Father" later on, and you were fine with it, just fixing his lack of capitalization.

    Oh, and the links to the pages lead to "This image has been moved or deleted" tags.
    Sweeny Todd... Hopefully, the Ben Kingsley version. I'm not much fer singin'.

    Anyway, the reason I corrected the first Dad and not the second Father was because the first was right on top of him being named Son. It sounded forced to me, because it was right up against it. The second one is someone totally different speaking, and it doesn't follow hard upon anything.

    Picture it as you talking to your wife.

    "Sebastian, come along!"

    "On my way, Daphne."

    Forced and unnatural. (And no, I don't know/remember your wife's name.) Now, replace the names with "husband" and "wife," and it gets even worse. There's no need to reinforce the relationship there. Hence, the redundancy.

    As for the links... Nothing I can do about that. It's working at Digital Webbing.



  4. Join Date
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    Oh, I agree. It IS redundant. I'm just saying, that in period pieces and the fantasy genre, specifically; it is often accepted (and even expected) to have the characters address each other as such.

    In fact, in many old world (European) countries at that time (medieval) it was a beating-worthy offense to FAIL to address your father as either "Father", or "Sir", each and EVERY time you addressed him.

    So, while YES, it does sound unwieldy and cumbersome, it would still be correct within this particular piece.

    Either way, I wouldn't have him call his Father "dad".

    And, yes, Angie would totally kill me if I ever called her "Daphne".
    "Living Robert Venditti's Plan B!"

    CAT. 5



  5. Pounce Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post

    Next week will be Dan Potter, our own Pounce!

    See you then!
    meep! I see my future now and it is RED.

    Dan



  6. StevenForbes Guest

    I guess we'll see, won't we?



  7. harryd Guest

    Just got home from work and started reading through the editing.
    First off, I'll fix the links.. looks like you cut and pasted what is displayed on the DW forums instead of copying the full underlying link. Actually looks like I can just display the images on here:

    How page 1 turned out:


    Page 2:


    Page3:


    I'll post another reply once I get read through the editing notes fully a few times!

    - Harry Durnan
    Last edited by harryd; Saturday, January 24, 2009 at 02:07 AM.



  8. harryd Guest

    First off, I want to thank Steven for taking the time to read through and edit some of my ametuer script. I'll try not to be too defensive about any aspects of it, as I am aware that there is a lot of room for improvement in my writing.

    Ok, a little preface about the script itself. It was my first attempt at doing a comic book script, and the formatting was based off of reading Dark Horse's script guidelines on their submission information. I hadn't read Bolts & Nuts yet... or McCloud's Understanding Comics and Writing Comics. There also was a good bit of side discussion and character design work outside of the script between myself and the artist.

    Now to answer some of the questions posed in the editing (at least the ones that I think are not rhetorical) or just reply to some of the comments:

    Page one:
    When writing, I tend to write out the panels and then go back and put in the number of panels whenever I finish a page. I also try to leave a blank () when I start a new page, so at the end of a writing session I can scan back through to see if I missed putting in any panel counts.

    Page 1, Panel 1:
    Getting a character designed for a "woman made of air" is definitely an interesting challenge. I like how it came out. I am a little confused by the semi colon comment, as there are semi colons separating the list of characters. Are they in the wrong spot?

    Page 1, Panel 2:
    The initial listing being inconsistent with, what I later decided for placement, is a newbie mistake on my part. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Page 1, Panel 3:
    True, that reordering is much better. Heh, another reason why everyone should get an editor to read over their work.

    Page 2:
    Fair enough... at least I started each new page on a new page!

    Page 2, Panel 2:
    I originally was thinking of this as a side view shot of them all, but the artist actually went for a POV from behind the council which works pretty well, and is what you suggested.

    Page 2, Panel 3:
    The door opening was meant to signify a dismissal of Xebec. Perhaps breaking up Xebec's line a bit and adding a more clear dismissal before the "Thank you" portion of his dialogue. The "Forgive Me" is a nice touch up too.

    Page 2, Panel 4:
    It's meant to give a bit more information about the world, and a brief background introduction of some minor characters. I may have gone a bit overboard on detailing out the scene.

    Page 3, Panel 1:
    Another good point, and newbie mistake on my part. I did forget to specify the time of day with a new outdoor scene. This character is meant to be the protagonist, which is why he's given his own panel.

    Page 3, Panel 2:
    True, I probably should have just used a full page to display the busy scene I had in mind and then broken it down into sections in the proceeding pages.
    The switch of narrative voice is something I'm aware of, though it does bring up a good question of how do you display different narrators in a script? If it ever makes it to a letterer, I'll be sure to let him know.

    Page 4, Panel 1:
    Fair point, perhaps chuckles might have been a better word in the panel description. That or I'll add in a "Ha, ha!" or something to that effect.

    Page 4, Panel 2:
    The Elderly Servant is the groom, he calls Marcus by name because it was a convenient way for me to actually give the character's name to the reader.

    Page 4, Panel 4:
    Gah, another classic newbie mistake, the moving panel. It can be cleaned up a bit into: "Jonathan stands looking towards his father, with one hand raised to his brow to wipe away sweat."

    Page 4, Panel 5:
    Heh, well, the false & hollow lines are coming from false & hollow people. They're meant to come off as hollow, sychophantic agreement.

    Page 5, Panel 3:
    It's not that I like run-on sentences, I just hate commas! I do have a bad tendency to run on, and when I originally wrote this my comma use was pretty awful. I hope that I've gotten a tiny bit better in the time since I originally wrote this. More of an issue, is my seeming inability to accurately proof read my own work. I think it's a common problem, but I do have a hard time not skimming over my own work when I try to proof read it.

    Page 5, Panel 4:
    Yes, that panel description could use some clean up. He's meant to be excitedly celebrating.

    Final Notes:
    I disagree on the assertion that I didn't name characters for the readers to see. Page 4, panel 1, Marcus calls his son by his first name so the readers can see it. Page 4, panel 2, I actually added the Elderly Servant line to attach a name to Marcus. Maybe it's a bit too forced, but that's a different issue.

    I do agree that my dialogue needs work and not just grammatically. I do consider myself to be an aspiring writer or a wanna-be writer... hopefully my dialogue and panels will get better as I do more writing. Again, thank you for taking the time to do some editing on my script. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I do wish I had read Bolts & Nuts before I dove into starting first comic project.

    - Harry Durnan



  9. StevenForbes Guest

    I'll address the comments in a while, but I was wondering if the red was too hard on the eyes. I think it is, but I want others' reactions before I change it.



  10. harryd Guest

    I didn't think it was too bad, though you should try some different shades and see if there's something that you like better. Of course, you don't want to use something too light. - Dark Olive Green might work or the Dark Red, they're a little darker and still fairly legible.

    - Harry Durnan



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