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Thread: TPG: Week 17- Tommy Brownell

  1. StevenForbes Guest

    TPG: Week 17- Tommy Brownell

    Welcome to Friday, and another edition of The Proving Grounds!

    This week brings us Tommy Brownell. Let's see how his script holds up!

    THE SIDELINERS #1
    IN MEDIA RES, Part One: THE LEAST I CAN DO
    Written by Tommy Brownell.

    Page 1: Four panels

    Panel one:
    Wide panel: DISTANT SHOT of the city of ARKHOMA FALLS, in Southwestern America, our setting for this story. A good-sized city, definitely not a New York or Metropolis, though. It should like look a nice and happy place in a nice and happy time. Late Spring/Early Summer. (What's the time of day?)

    1 Caption: ARKHOMA FALLS, OKLAHOMA

    2 Caption: Today.

    Panel two:
    Wide panel: Closer shot of the city. Thick, black smoke is roiling up in the air. (This should be visible from the previous panel, as well, even if it's a tiny wisp. You've got to make sure you're setting things up properly, Tommy. This isn't the way to do it.)

    1 SFX: K-DOOM

    Panel three:
    Wide panel: Closer shot, flames are rising up in the city along with the smoke. A "NOW ENTERING" sign is visible, but not readable. (I don't know where we're at, and neither does the artist. You start with a wide shot, and keep coming in to the city, but this panel here doesn't say anything. It's not really a panel description. Be specific about what you see, and the artist will do their best to give that to you.)

    Panel four:
    Wide panel: Close-up of the sign, which reads NOW ENTERING: ARKHOMA FALLS, but the population sign underneath has been destroyed by an energy blast. Barely visible remainders of the sign are present. (Energy blast? It's a good thing to say, because it gives the artist a frame of reference for how the sign could look. But the thing I'm going to ding you on is again, not saying where the sign is. Is it lying on the side of the street? Is it in the middle of the street? Where is it? Other than that, this is a decent place to turn the page. It works. Everyone knows I'm not a fan of the silent opening page. However, this comes close to it, and really, it works. Nice job.)

    1 Caption: POPULATION: 385,212

    2 Caption: And dropping.

    Page 2: Six panels (page break.)

    Panel one:
    Large Panel: Chaotic battle scene on the streets of ARKHOMA FALLS. People are running to and fro, being chased by these flying, insectoid SCAVENGERS. These things are basically humanoid cockroaches, and they are tearing apart everyone and everything. In the background, amidst the shops, is an electronics store called, oh, ARKHOMA COMPUTER SUPPLY or the like. (I'm not the biggest fan of the description, but it works. This is a nice thing to turn the page to. Right between the eyes. I like the aesthetic, but the execution is a tad rough. This would work better if you said it was pulled out some to get a nice overview of the action, It would work even better if I knew the time of day. This way I could see it all properly.)

    1 Man HELP! GOD PLEASE, SOMEBODY HELP!

    2 Woman THEY HAVE MY BABY!

    Panel two:
    Small panel: A shot of one of the SCAVENGER victims who hasn't been completely ripped apart or eradicated. Business type, with a gaping wound in the stomach. (Where? Is it in the middle of the street? On the sidewalk? Where is it? I gather you don't care if it's male or female. Let the artist know that.)

    1 SFX KRIK

    Panel three:
    Small panel: The body jerks violently, mandibles jutting from its mouth. (This isn't film. Remember that. This could be a moving panel. It skirts that territory.)

    1 SFX KRIK-TATCH

    Panel four:
    Small panel: The body rises up, a sinister, insectoid appearance about it. (Is it still mostly human, mostly insectoid, or something in between? Tell the artist.)

    Panel five:
    Medium Panel: The front window of ARKHOMA COMPUTER SUPPLY, where two people are standing, watching the carnage as our new businessman cockroach pounces on a victim in the foreground. On our left is a fairly overweight black man, and on the right is a dark-haired, native American woman, both horrified at what they're seeing. (This is going to be a really fast read so far. There's barely anything to read. I'm not saying to force unnatural exposition where it's not necessary, I'm just letting you know that these two pages are going to go pretty fast as you read it. And the pouncing insectoid would be better as a reflection on the glass. That, of course, depends on the strength of your artist.)

    Panel six:
    Medium Panel: Inside the ARKHOMA COMPUTER SUPPLY storage room, we can see the two people at the window, just from behind. In the foreground, next to the doorway, is a slightly pudgy man with glasses and a combover, wearing a white button-up shirt, tie and slacks. This is one of our heroes, DONALD MARZ. He's holding onto a black bodysuit that has silver filaments running along it to each limb and to the chest and back. There's a face-mask/visor attached to it that he's looking at, and the arms of the suit end in claws, one for each finger. (I'm not seeing this panel as being workable, at first. Then when I saw what you were really saying, I deleted the word “just” from the description. This puts them in the background, where they should be and where you're saying you want them, instead of being “just behind” them. If the camera was “just behind” them, which is what I got the first five times I read this panel, then the rest of it doesn't work. I had to suss out the meaning, and it only snapped into place once I figured out your use of the word “just.” See what one word can do?)

    1 Woman Someone should really DO something.

    2 Man Yeah.

    Page 3: Six panels. (page break)

    Panel one:
    Exterior shot: BUY-N-GO, ARKHOMA's premiere convenience store. It's a large building with a MEAT MASTERS fast food joint sharing space with it. A few Scavengers are on top of the building, trying to tear their way in. A couple of vehicles are visible out front.

    1 Thom (inside the building) I'm not even supposed to BE here today!

    Panel two:
    Inside the store, two clerks in identical, uniform shirts and name tags are behind the counter. One of them, THOM BRIDGES, wears glasses, has a moussed up hairdo and a goatee. He looks quite exasperated. Next to him is MIKE STEPHENS, a frail looking gentleman with more of an annoyed expression. He's generally unremarkable, but in shots from the back, his hair is clearly thinning. Once in costume, he's our weather controlling telekinetic member CUEBALL. Customers are scattered around, in various states of distress.

    1 Mike Calm down. You're not helping anything. (Period or an exclamation point. Not a comma.)

    2 Woman Where's Paragon?! Or Paladin?! Or The Sentinel!? Someone save us!

    3 Thom Ya know, she's got a point. Shouldn't someone be fighting these things off by now?

    Panel three:
    Close shot of MIKE STEPHENS, a pensive expression on his face.

    1 Mike Yeah...someone should.

    Panel four:
    MIKE is walking around the counter while THOM is peering out a window over a cigarette display. (Again, you're skirting the moving panel thing.)

    1 Thom Do we get hazard pay for this?

    Panel five:
    THOM notices MIKE, who's made it to the door and looks like he's about to push it open.

    1 Thom Hey...where d'you think you're going?

    Panel six:
    Inset: Close-up of MIKE again, looking frustrated. (This may come across as anger. Frustration and anger are close cousins, and this may look out of place. Also, this isn't a strong place to turn the page.)

    1 Mike Nowhere.

    Page 4: Six panels. (page break)

    Panel one:
    Large panel: Ext. shot of a large building in the background and a guard shack in the foreground to the right, with metal siding. The guard shack's a huge building, large enough for lockers, a TV and about four guards at a time. A sign to the left says GENECORE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT. (What time of day is it? This is an establishing shot, right? So finish establishing the shot. I take it it's the same day. Spell that out.)

    1 Reporter (On TV) (where is the tv? You don't give a location in the panel description, so it's off panel. Say so.) ...homa Falls is under attack. Once again, a...group of humanoid creatures have attacked Arkhoma Falls. The police are trying to contain them, but have thus far been unsuccessful.

    2 Reporter (On TV) Attempts at reaching The Iconics or any of the nation's other heroes have been thus far unsuccessful. (change the “thus” here to “so”, and do a little rearranging.)

    Panel two:
    Inside the cramped guard shack, JIM FLANNIGAN is watching on a small television set, a look of concern on his face. FLANNIGAN is a tall, caucasian man of moderate build, wearing a security guard uniform. He is also the superhero known as THE REVENGER. On the table by the TV is a box of donuts and a cup of coffee. (Period. And these descriptions should have been worked out with the artist beforehand.)

    1 Reporter (On TV) No one is sure where these beings have come from, or whether they are mutated humans, aliens or what. Police response has thus far been inadequate, and no response has been made by the military. (You like the word “thus.” A little wordy, but that's okay. Just watch that.)

    Panel three:
    Over the shoulder shot of FLANNIGAN watching TV. On the screen, policemen are being torn apart by the SCAVENGERS.

    1 Reporter (On TV) My...God. They seem to be RESPAWNING with the corpses!

    2 Reporter (On TV) Where are the heroes ? Someone needs to DO something! (Okay, where is the reporter? Is this an anchor doing a voiceover, or are they on the scene, reporting live? That's the only thing I can see that would give a reason for the loss of composure. If they're on the scene, it needs to be said.)

    Panel four:
    FLANNIGAN is walking to his locker, talking to himself. He's definitely nervous here. The TV can still be seen in the background.

    1 Jim I KNEW military reliance on capes was going to bite us on the butt.

    2 Jim God...how am I going to do this?

    3 Reporter (On TV) WHAT in the WORLD is THAT?

    Panel five:
    Small panel: FLANNIGAN has stopped, and is looking at the TV, which is showing a large leg on the screen. The pavement has crushed down around it from the force of the step. (No. Small panels aren't going to show the scale you want. If you how both Flannigan and the tv, the tv needs to be necessarily smaller, which means the picture in it is going to be smaller still, if it can be seen at all. You've already said that the tv is small. This means your scale is going to be off.)

    1 Reporter (On TV) Some kind of giant?

    Panel six:
    Small panel: Close up of a very nervous JIM FLANNIGAN, staring at the monitor. (I like the sentiment, but this is a weak page turn.)

    1 Reporter (On TV) (off panel) SOMEONE needs to stop this thing!

    2 Jim Yeah...but I think that thing's too big for me.


    I'm going to stop there. The next few pages change scenes again, and that doesn't thrill me much. Three scene changes in the space of five pages isn't my idea of a good time, on general principle. The good part of it, though, is that it was all part of the general scene of what looks like an alien invasion. So kudos for that. The next scene, though, goes into generic superhero fighting supervillain fare. I'm sure there's a reason for it, but after 4 pages of invasion, a fight seems out of place.

    Okay, let's go over what we have here.

    Your panel descriptions need some work. Not a ton of it, just some minor tweakage. Remember to put in the time of day along with everything else when you do an establishing shot—especially when it's outside. The artist is going to ask or assume, or the colorist will. Not good, when you could have just put it in the script. Remember, the more info you have in here, the less they'll have to ask. Just remember not to o overboard with details. Put in what's necessary.

    I want you to watch out for showing difficult emotions. Like I said, frustration and anger are close cousins, and one may appear to be the other. Not a good scene. You can help it with body language somewhat, just watch what actions you have your characters do to depict that frustration. If it's not something easy like happiness, sadness, anger or pain, don't go in close to their face. Pull out to show their body, and have their body language help tell what they're going through.

    Your dialogue seems to be okay. I could go into the other pages, but since I'm not showing them here, it wouldn't help you that much. Generally, from these pages here, the dialogue is VERY serviceable. I'd make a few changes here and there, punch it up some, but not much. I could see people reacting the way you have them. I would probably add things to show incredulity or terror: screaming/yelling, some stammering, empty word bubbles. I think those would work. Like I said, it's very serviceable, from theses four pages. Good job.

    I can't speak too much on the overall story, but what I can speak about is something you don't see very often: superheroes in a seemingly horror setting. I don't know if you kept that vibe throughout the entire thing, but I was getting a Mansquito vibe during some of this. This can either be great, or it can be crap. THAT is going to be something your artist will take fully on their shoulders. If this is going to be horror, be prepared for that.

    That being said, I wasn't captured in these pages. The story didn't pull me in. You had the opportunity, but then you jumped around a bit. Lots of people not knowing what to do, instead of jumping in and helping. Not very heroic, even for older, out of shape heroes. Sure, Spidey was outclassed by Firelord, and tried to pawn him off on lots of other heroes, but he was the only one available, and managed to kick Firelord's ass until the Avengers came on the scene. Heroes jump in, unless they have a good reason not to. Sure, we're only a few pages in, but with the failure to capture the audience, and especially changing to a standard fight by P5, no one's going to care why no one's jumped in yet.

    So, you start out nicely with an invasion, and then you lose steam when you start talking about the heroes. You might want to re-think your starting place in order to capture interest. Possibly follow someone who's doing something about the invasion. That way, you get some action in there, and maybe some answers, even if the answers are nothing more than questions. At least it's a starting point.

    And that's all I've got.


    Next week brings us Jeff Beahn and then Dayv Gerberdling.

    Let's discuss this.



  2. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Panel three:
    Small panel: The body jerks violently, mandibles jutting from its mouth. (This isn't film. Remember that. This could be a moving panel. It skirts that territory.)

    Panel four:
    MIKE is walking around the counter while THOM is peering out a window over a cigarette display. (Again, you're skirting the moving panel thing.)
    I hate to bring this up yet again. But just when I thought I was figuring out how to write a description so it wouldn't read like a moving panel to you, you seem to have moved the bar on me. Can you clarify what makes these skirt the moving panel territory? I think I see why you're saying it, but some confirmation would help.

    On the first one - I'm guessing that, because the actual motion of the mandibles emerging would be pretty much impossible to show, the "mandibles jutting from its mouth part" should be seperated to be make it more clearly describe a current condition of the body, rather than coming right after a description of action. Would that fix it?

    On the second one - I'm pretty sure that the description of Mike walking around the counter is making it seem like too much movement, because he can only be shown at one point in relation to the counter. Is that right?

    ----

    Jumping slightly off-topic for a second:
    Did you receive the script excerpt I sent? I don't think I messed up any of the rules, but I didn't hear back from you like last time. Just wanted to check.



  3. TommyBrownell Guest

    Thank you, sir, for taking the time. I appreciate it...some of this, I think I've already improved with more recent works, other parts I won't try to argue, because I'm not looking at it through a reader's or editor's eyes, so I'm perfectly willing to chalk up to mistakes on my part.

    Thanks again for your advice, and for your time.

    Tommy



  4. StevenForbes Guest

    Calvin:

    The first example—it doesn’t skirt the moving panel with the mandibles, it skirts it with the “violent jerk.” If there was no setup with the panel before it, then it would be even closer. It’s a fine line. It didn’t go over it, but it went toward the territory.

    The second example—you’re perfectly correct. It can still be shown in a single panel, but it gets closer to being a moving panel than the first example. Good work.

    Tommy:

    First, please, don't call me 'sir.' I work for a living. But, more seriously, it's formal and really not necessary. I'm just here to help. So, while I appreciate the sentiment--cut it out! My name's Steven. You can call me Steven, Steve, or Forby. 'Sir' and 'Mr. Forbes' aren't me in this context. Yes, that goes for everyone reading this. Well, maybe not for Seb. He has to call me Your Most Eminent, Holy Worship.

    Secondly, I want you all to know something: just because you’ve sent in a script to me, doesn’t mean that you can’t attempt to change it before I post it up. If you want correct things you may see as “wrong” after I’ve gone over someone else’s script, you can get in contact with me through e-mail and see if I’ve already gotten to your script. If I have, I’m not going to let you change it. (I’m not doing the work twice.) If I haven’t, I’ll let you change it. Barri Lang has done this a couple of times already. I have no problem with it.

    There we are.



  5. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenForbes View Post
    Calvin:

    The first example—it doesn’t skirt the moving panel with the mandibles, it skirts it with the “violent jerk.” If there was no setup with the panel before it, then it would be even closer. It’s a fine line. It didn’t go over it, but it went toward the territory.
    Ah... gotcha. Same scope of motion problem as the other one.
    Thanks!



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